A day in the life of a Brainwave physiotherapist

Posted on November 27, 2015 by Lisa Hammerton

AU MIkeWorking with charitable causes that help people to manage health conditions on a daily basis is an important part of Simplyhealth.  We want to make a difference to the lives of those our partner charities support and to understand how our donation is making an impact. 

This year, we supported Brainwave, a charity that aims to improve children's mobility, communication skills and learning potential, through a range of educational and physical therapies.

Working with charitable causes that help people to manage health conditions on a daily basis is an important part of Simplyhealth.  We want to make a difference to the lives of those our partner charities support and to understand how our donation is making an impact. 

This year, we supported Brainwave, a charity that aims to improve children's mobility, communication skills and learning potential, through a range of educational and physical therapies.

Simplyhealth's donation of £79,245 is helping fund the maintenance and running costs of the hydrotherapy pool at the Charity's centre in Bridgwater, Somerset, and is also helping sponsor ten families to follow the programme of assessments and therapy that the Charity offers. In addition the money will also sponsor one of Brainwave's physiotherapists, Mike, who delivers therapy for the children. We recently caught up with him and asked a few questions:

Tell us about your job at Brainwave
As a physiotherapist at Brainwave I work with children who have a variety of conditions including those with cerebral palsy, Downs syndrome, chromosomal abnormalities and developmental delay. These children face challenges in a range of areas and many struggle to accomplish skills that others take for granted. These can include physical abilities such as rolling, sitting and walking but can also encompass other areas such as communication, socialisation and play.

Many of the children I see have abnormal muscle tone. This reduces their physical abilities, limits their independence and often effects their development. Additional health issues are also a concern including epilepsy, frequent chest infections and the need for corrective surgical intervention in the future.

My role is to assess the children's physical abilities, muscle tone and range of movement before designing and teaching an exercise programme for parents or carers to complete at home on a regular basis. The programme is tailored to the needs of the child and is reviewed at each assessment.

What happens at an assessment?
Our initial assessment takes place over two days at one of our three centres. During this time we have an in depth discussion with the family asking them about their child's medical history, their current abilities and their goals. Two therapists then assess the child's abilities, muscle tone and range of movement before designing an individual exercise programme relevant to the child's needs and the goals of the family. Each programme takes roughly thirty minutes to complete and families are asked to repeat it around five times a week. We discuss our rationale for each technique and teach each exercise in detail allowing parents an opportunity to practice with our guidance. We film ourselves performing and explaining our handling and techniques so that the parents can refer back to a DVD when they return home. At the end of each day families are offered a hydrotherapy session and hydrotherapy exercise ideas can also be provided. Families then return roughly every six months for their child to be reassessed, their progress recorded and alterations to be made to their child's programme to challenge them further and encourage further development.

What has been your most memorable moment?
That's a really tough question as I have had so many amazing experiences at Brainwave.  The most memorable ones for me are when a child does something for the first time. It might be their first word or reaching for a toy for the first time but sharing in that achievement no matter how big or small is great. Probably my most memorable moment was when I was working with a little girl with Downs Syndrome. It was her first reassessment and after completing her programme regularly for six months we could immediately see the progress that she had made when she came through the door. Her crawling had improved and she could now stand up from the floor in space and maintain her balance in standing for at least six seconds. She was keen to be on her feet and was now able to walk short distances with her hands held. The memorable moment happened during her afternoon session when she treated us to her first independent steps. Within ten minutes she was standing up from the floor and took around six steps.  She was so pleased with herself she didn't want to stop; it was great to share in this moment with her family.

If you'd like to find out more about Brainwave, you can visit their website.

Back