October is National Physical Therapy Month: Meet Two of our Experts

Published on 
October 10, 2012

Physical therapy is an important part of recovery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Many kids, adolescents and teens are treated in our Physical Therapy Program for a variety of conditions and diagnoses, ranging from infants’ recovery from surgery to traumatic brain injuries.

In recognition of National Physical Therapy month, we sat down with two of our experts, Amber Richards (top photo), Physical Therapist and Manager for Outpatient Rehabilitation Services and Karen Livingston (bottom photo), Physical Therapist and Manager for Rehabilitation Services at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, to learn more about the program’s holistic and family-centered care approach.

Q & A with Amber Richards

Question: What advice do you have for parents of children about to begin physical therapy?

AR: When your child is about to enter physical therapy, be prepared to make some lifestyle changes because therapy is a time investment. Be open in your communication with the therapist. Think about the expectations and goals you have for your child, and work with your therapist to make a plan to meet those goals.

Question: What are the goals of the physical therapy team in terms of patient care?

AR: The goal of our physical therapy in all areas of care is to return the patient to their highest level of function. We work to reintegrate them into their age-appropriate roles with family, friends, community and peers.

Question: What about Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ physical therapy care stands out against other physical therapy care in Southern California?

AR: We dedicate ourselves to evidenced-based practice, looking at research with cutting edge interventions, for example with our bodyweight-supported treadmill training, electrical stimulation and biofeedback for patients. We do all this while using a multidisciplinary approach and a commitment to family-centered care. For example, we work as a team with the speech therapy and occupational therapy staff, in an effort to provide the best care for patients.

Question: What are some ways physical therapists promote holistic and family-centered care at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles?

AR: We partner with disciplines outside of the physical therapy department. For example, we may consult with the pain management team or the social work team. We make sure all aspects of the patients’ care receive attention.

Question: What advice do you have for parents who have children currently receiving physical therapy?

AR: Be a big part of your child’s physical therapy plan and be involved in their therapy sessions. Therapy doesn’t just happen at the hospital, it happens at home. Make it a priority to integrate your therapy activities into your everyday life. That is what really makes the difference in your child’s progress.

Karen Livingston talks about the three types of physical therapy settings and the dedication of the physical therapy staff.

 Acute Care – Our acute inpatient therapists provide services to all of our units inside the Anderson Pavilion, including the neonatal and infant critical care unit, cardio thoracic intensive care unit and pediatric intensive care unit.

Rehabilitation – Our rehabilitation therapists provide services to kids recovering from serious illnesses or injuries, such as brain or spinal cord injury.

Outpatient Care – Our outpatient therapists provide services in many of our physician clinics, such as our Hemostasis and Thrombosis Center or Spina Bifida Program. Our outpatient care is also available to kids in need of physical therapy.