Perspective: Attending Pediatric Physical Therapy

Our son is finishing up a round of pediatric physical therapy.  He has been a ‘toe walker’ ever since he took his first steps.  While this doesn’t stop him from getting around, his pediatrician advised we take him to therapy after his last check up.  The reason for this is because toe walkers often don’t stretch out muscles and tendons in their foot.  This appeared to be the case for my son.  By having him go through therapy, we would all learn methods to stretch these out.  The hope is that it would lead to better walking habits.

The Results

So far, we’re one for two on the  goals noted above.  He has improved the mobility in his foot, meaning that it stretches out better.  This is a good thing.  Unfortunately, he still often walks on his toes.  We always tell him when we catch him, and he’ll drop down while he walks, but it’s just a habit that he’s not ready to break yet.  This isn’t ideal, but it means we’ll have to keep him engaged in the stretching exercises.  The good news is that he doesn’t have to go to therapy indefinitely. His movement will be measured by the pediatrician, and if needed, he might need to go back to therapy occasionally.

I know first hand that habits like this are hard to break.  I never got over my fingernail biting as a child, and I still do it to this day.  Who knows why some habits stick and others form?

Perspective After Attending Pediatric Physical Therapy

Since my son started attending therapy, my wife typically takes him.  She picks him up from school and drives him, and I get our daughter off the bus.  This worked best for us so that it didn’t interrupt my work day.

Still, my wife thought it would be a good idea for me to attend.  I had asked her a number of questions, and rather than be the go-between, she thought I should go.

So I did.

Attending was quite eye opening, but not for the reasons I thought.

Getting some of my questions answered and seeing how things worked was the easy part.  That just involved sticking my head through a door and spending a few minutes chatting with the therapist.  She clarified a few things and confirmed a couple of things I’d been thinking about post-therapy planning.  That was the easy part.

Where it really opened my eyes was seeing some of the other children in for therapy.  We were lucky to find a kids only therapy center, which has worked really well.  But, just as is the case with any medical office, you see the other patients as they enter and leave.

Some Amazing Kids

And I have to tell you, there were some pretty amazing kids there.  I saw a kid that didn’t seem to talk.  They were trying to work with her, and also have her communicate with a special tablet to make sure she had interaction.  I saw a kid who had been in some kind of accident who was really struggling, but working hard to get back to doing what had once been normal.  In the hour that I was there, I saw these and others.

And Some Incredible Parents

I also saw some pretty amazing parents.  It really put things in perspective for me in a number of ways.  We often get pretty wrapped in our own kids lives and their struggles, and we can sometime get overwhelmed in the process.  If one of the kids comes home with a note from school, it’s easy to get frustrated.  When we tell our son for what seems like the 50th time that day to walk on his feet, we become that nagging parent we promised we’d never be.  When we hear toilet talk, it pushes us closer to seeing red.

But, you know what?  Seeing what these other parents go through gives some much needed perspective.  For each other kid I saw there, I saw a parent that was fully supportive.  They were immersed in making sure that their child had every opportunity to work through their particular challenge.  The love was amazing.

It was really cool to see and it made me walk out with appreciation for what they do.  I’m sure it’s not always easy for them.  It can’t be.

Regardless, I had nothing but admiration for these parents.  It was an honor to be able to see this little bit of their lives.  And, it really put things in perspective.

Readers, have you had an eye opening moment like this?   Has there ever been a time when you got a look at someone else’s life, and it made you see yours differently?  Let me know your story in the comments below.  And, thanks so much for reading.

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9 thoughts on “Perspective: Attending Pediatric Physical Therapy

  1. Honestly, this is my life. I’m not sure you’d consider me strong if you visited our waiting room haha. There are good days and bad, for everyone involved. But I know we definitely try, and we unequivocally love and are willing to fight all the challenges because of that love.

    Also, I didn’t know that toe walking was a problem. I just thought it would result in really strong calves. We’ll have to have a chat with the therapist. 😀
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  2. Does your son ONLY walk on his toes or does he do a mix. Just curious because my oldest daughter walked on her toes almost right from the time she took her first steps and our pediatrician always told us not to worry about it. She’s 12 now and still walks on her toes sometimes but she has incredibly strong legs for a little girl and she’s an All Star cross-country runner in her middle school. She doesn’t run on her toes but I do see her popping up on her toes on the soccer field at times.

    • He prefers to walk on his toes but will walk ‘regular’ when we point it out to him, until he gets up and starts walking again. The thing is even when he walks ‘regular’, it’s not a proper walk. Most people will complete a step by touching their heel to the ground first, with the toes touching the ground as the completion of the step. He does it in reverse, so even when he walks ‘regular’, he’s still doing the same movement. As noted in the response to the earlier comment, the tendons and such eventually end up not allowing him to stand or walk flat footed, which can cause pain later in life. So the therapy is to keep things stretched the right way and to allow the flexibility that will be important as he continues to grow.

  3. My daughter is speech delayed and is being tested for speech apraxia now. After almost 2 years of speech therapy she has advanced maybe 6 months which means she is speaking at a 18 month level and she will be 3 in June. Therapy is hard work and it takes a commitment. When I split from her father last year I kept her in the same daycare center so her services wouldn’t get interrupted because of our move. I am grateful that even though she was a preemie her only issue is her speech. I have a little over 2 years to get her on the right track but I am bracing myself for the fact she might have difficulties in school and setting her up for success is something I want for her.

    Maybe what you can do is do a reward system for your son…when he doesn’t walk on his toes for x amount of time he gets some sort of treat. I know the speech therapist my daughter works with does this when she wants her to repeat what she is saying. She will have my daughter repeat the sounds back to her and then give her another piece of Mr. Potatohead. I know it sounds silly but it helps her say them.

    • I hope things move along with your daughter. It’s amazing how, at that age, they can progress so rapidly. You might very well see her make up most or all of her 18 month development setback within just a few months. I’ll be hoping for that for you!

      As far as the rewards, we’ve tried just about everything there. I think he’s just inclined at this point and we can’t change that. I hate to sound like a mean parent, but I think that the only thing that’s probably going to really work is when he gets old enough and other kids point it out to him. Peer pressure might be the only hope!

  4. Being able to get therapy for this issue is great. When I was a little kid — and even when my son was small, a mere 37 years ago — pediatricians usually just shrugged off this kind of issue. My son has a hereditary deformity of one of his thigh bones — his dad has it in both legs. When I asked the quack about it, he just said “well…look at his dad.” I didn’t even KNOW the kid could have had therapy for the condition until it was way, way too late.
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