Physical therapy has to be hands-on and face-to-face, right?
In these challenging days of long-term school closures, teletherapy is, for PTs, a great way to help kids keep progressing toward their IEP goals even when in-person therapy can’t take place.
But teletherapy isn’t new to us at Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS). Our practitioners have found remote physical therapy service to be an effective way at helping students develop the strength, motor development, and range of motion they need.
Here are a few of our favorite teletherapy ideas we hope you’ll find as useful as we have!
Share Your Screen to Spark Your Students’ Exercise
When you use your video conferencing platform’s screen sharing feature to show students video clips, you can bring new levels of fun and excitement to your teletherapy sessions.
You’ll find videos appropriate for PT teletherapy on several sites. This list of ones we like should get you started:
YouTube is a great source for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, like this one or this one, that you and your students can do together remotely. You’ll also find shorter workouts—five minutes, 12 minutes, 16 minutes—to give kids needed cardio time. And don’t forget about action songs or yoga “brain breaks” students can do in or out of chairs.
- MovetoLearn (M2L)
MovetoLearn (M2L) specializes in brief videos (5 minutes or so) using catchy and upbeat music, simple choreography, and occasional splashes of humor to get kids out of their chairs and in motion so they regain focus. Though these clips were filmed in classrooms, there’s no reason your students can’t dance along from home!
- Cosmic Kids Yoga
Cosmic Kids Yoga brings yoga routines into some of kids’ current and classic favorite stories thanks to green screen technology and computer animation. Episodes range in both length (from less than 10 minutes to a half-hour) and energy level (calm, focused, or active), meaning you’re sure to find videos just right for your students.
Have Students Do Strengthening Exercises in Their Homes
Staying home from school doesn’t mean your students have to stop building up their strength.
Here are some strengthening exercises you can easily guide them through, and even demonstrate for them, in real time via live video:
- Weight carries
They don’t have to use dumbbells. Any weighted objects, such as grocery bags with cans inside (doubled up to prevent rips!), will work.
- Leg lifts
Ask someone at home to put big, floppy stuffed animals on the student’s legs.
Have students step up to and down from stools (with adult supervision if needed).
- Exercises using stable furniture
For example, kids can put their feet on the couch to do bridges and modified planking, or their hands on the couch for modified push-ups. They can also use couches and chairs for high kneeling activities.
- Hand-to-foot toss
Have the student lie on their back, feet extended straight up. Then they must pass a stuffed animal, beanbag, or small pillow back and forth between their hands and feet. If possible, ask them to pick the object off the floor with their feet and pass it to Mom, Dad, or a sibling standing by their head.
- Puzzle sit-ups
Have the child lie on their back and place puzzle pieces above their head and the puzzle board between their feet. They must grab one piece at a time, sit up, and put the piece into the puzzle board. Or have the student do building block sit-ups: put blocks above their head and have them build the highest tower they can at their feet.
Plus, remember old favorites like “the Superman” and “the Crab Walk,” which can also double as occupational therapy.
Need to incorporate academics into your sessions? Have kids crab walk to complete a number or letter sequence. Do a crab dance—lift a hand and hold it up for 5 seconds. Or have students practice following directions for left and right.
Look for the Benefits in Serving Students via Teletherapy
Just a few weeks ago, you may not have thought you’d be using teletherapy as a PT so soon. However, the sudden need to provide physical therapy services to kids home from school is also an opportunity, even if an unexpected and in many ways, unwelcome one, to:
- Discover new ways to engage and motivate your students, making your interventions even more efficient and effective.
- Promote more carryover of therapeutic activities in the home by increasing family members’ engagement, maximizing your work’s long-term impact.
- Grow in your competence and confidence as a physical therapist.
PTS can help you adapt your practice to teletherapy. Visit our website for more strategies.
We also have plenty of teletherapy ideas for parents and families—be sure to scroll to the bottom of that page to check out resources just for you!