Physical therapy students play with a purpose
|PT2 physical therapy students Callie King, Ashley Korth and Allison Rowden meet their new favorite teacher at UNMC's Child Development Center as part of their pediatric physical therapy course.|
The guy in his 20s got down on the carpet to play dollies. The big dude in the weightlifting T-shirt grinned as the babies crawled and cooed. The young lady listened intently to a serious lecture about colors and shapes. Physical therapy students in the School of Allied Health Professions recently spent two mornings at the UNMC Child Development Center, observing kids there as part of a pediatric physical therapy course. The PT2s broke up into small groups, facilitated by clinical supervisors, to study kids of various ages simply doing their thing. "They listen to how kids communicate. They watch how they play," said Sandy Willett, assistant professor of physical therapy at the Munroe-Meyer Institute. "What we're most interested in is their motor skills. But they're looking for all areas of development." By understanding how typical children access their play environments, the PT students gain knowledge critical for planning treatment with children who have special needs, Willett said. "We go on to talk about atypical development in children," Willett said. But many of the PT students haven't had that much exposure to young kids. "This," she said, gesturing to the students, surrounded by kids doing what kids do, "is our reference point."