Pediatric Therapy Reimagined
Over the past few months, I cannot help but smile as I observe the therapists at MOCO Movement Center treat through the screen, not to the screen.
I’ve been amazed with the level of creativity, agility, and intelligence our therapists have displayed in adapting therapy techniques and modalities as they transition from clinic based sessions to virtual teletherapy sessions. Before my own eyes, I have witnessed the MOCO team rise to the challenge of adapting to a new and challenging environment, but never wavering from their core commitment to provide the best treatment to our patients. Our therapists are imaginative, evidenced based, critical thinkers who develop knowledgeable, engaging, and fun activity programs that truly make a difference. The team has come together to reimagine what pediatric therapy should look like, to create and share amazing tips, create home exercise program plans, and ideas for virtual sessions. As the weeks have gone by, the ideas only get better. At each of our weekly staff meetings I learn about new skills and activities that I can add to my own toolbox! There are no words to express how proud I am of my MOCO team during this challenging transition. They are working around the clock to find innovative ways in order to create dynamic and meaningful online therapy sessions.
But How? How can they take the Magic of MOCO into your home?
Applied Functional Therapy
MOCO was built on the foundation of Applied Functional Therapy – that is, taking pediatric therapy out of the clinic and into the real world of a child. This approach has allowed us to naturally adapt to virtual healthcare, where therapy is literally taking place in the child’s real world. It may be difficult to envision what MOCO teletherapy looks like, with the treatment plans we have developed in some ways it has the look and feel of a session at MOCO (without the traffic on Rockville Pike☺). At MOCO, we may climb obstacle courses, jump on trampolines and play with balls, so you may be wondering what can the MOCO staff do to give my child the same experience/treatment at home?
Because Applied Functional Therapy (AFT), is aimed at helping your child achieve better functional outcomes by taking evidence-based, world class pediatric therapy research and integrating it into real life activities, with the need to be home as a result of the pandemic, there is no better time to help your child gain the skills they need to function independently in your home and adjust a carefully thought out plan of care. Our therapists will work with you to put a child's developmental concerns and health at the center of the conversation and develop a personalized plan of care provided virtually. With the Applied Functional Therapy method and coaching model approach, therapy is an individualized and intrinsically motivating experience resulting in amazing functional outcomes. Children and their families are guided by therapists who are dedicated to their success and mentors who will support them as you grow into the best version of themselves.
But how can personalized AFT based teletherapy work through an “impersonal screen”?
“Social distancing” has been a phrase thrown around a lot, but in this day and age, a shelter-in-place order doesn’t mean we can’t maintain communication. Many people rightfully worry that telehealth means they will be receiving more impersonal services. However, whether over a screen or in-person, MOCO staff continue to have the same relationship, communication, and knowledge of your child’s interests that they did before! MOCO Therapists are providing regular, effective, and compassionate communication with families and children. The therapists have spent the past several weeks, creating, training and adapting treatment for teletherapy and as a result have made the sessions as simple and accessible as possible.
Our therapists will guide you and show you how to access online resources and virtual therapy. By using detailed screenshot instructions, brief tutorial videos, and interactive MOCO on the Move Therapy Activities provided by therapists, they have improvised and adjusted on the fly to help meet their patient’s needs. Plus, teletherapy does not have to increase screen time, the activities continue to be active and dynamic!
Each day, MOCO Staff continue to come up with new, creative activities that are intrinsically motivating, so the child is working towards their goals while having fun! Some of the things we’ve seen:
Harry Potter Jeopardy
Interactive farm animal games etc.
Spot the difference games
Stump the Therapist
You may be worried that therapy over a screen may not work as well for your child. You may be wondering what if your child can’t talk/won’t interact with a therapist over the screen? The coaching model is a way that MOCO therapists are working to make sure your child is still engaged! In coaching sessions, we will teach parents the skills they need to carry over the therapeutic program into their home and daily routine.
A coaching session may include:
The trick to drawing out your inner therapist while staying at home is to improvise and innovate, and above all, keep it simple. Infuse therapy into your daily routine and include the whole family.
Therapists have adopted a coaching model when necessary.
Parents can do their part by being advocates and guides at home. With the uncertainty of the coronavirus situation, we want to continue your child's progress! As therapists we have seen loss of gains, and although people may be tempted to wait for therapy until things “get back to normal” that may be too long for your child to wait. Since we do not know when MOCO will restart seeing patients face to face, MOCO Team members are using all their shelter-in-place creative energy and putting it into your children’s success. During teletherapy, gains are continuing and real strides are being made.
How are therapists and parents working together to make this successful?
At MOCO we are constantly asking ourselves: how ensure that our telehealth sessions are worthwhile for the children and families? How do we ensure that our patients are receiving the therapeutic benefit of the coaching model that MOCO is providing them? We do this by, observing and reacting to our patients in real time during a session, constantly innovating so that each session is fresh and exciting, and continually asking ourselves how to be even better.
Bottom line: Good therapy is good therapy. MOCO therapists are awesome whether they are face to face in person or virtually.
Our New Reality
President Obama once said
“In a lot of ways crises like this sharpen our focus and I hope for all of you have underscored why the work you do is so important.”
As the shelter-in-place continues, we grieve life as we used to know it and attempt to come to terms with the new reality. The pandemic has forced us to adapt and the MOCO team has risen to the challenge. Their motivation stems from a simple truth - therapeutic input makes a difference. These amazing therapists are motivated to continue to make a difference and help your child continue to progress to their goals. Therapy is considered an “essential” service for a reason. We don’t want your children to miss out on all the MOCO therapeutic activities that encourage your child to continue to make the therapeutic gains and prevent a regression in your child’s skills.
If now is not the time - know that it is ok- you are not failing your child. There is no handbook/right answer for what you “should be doing right now.” Let go of all of the feelings of what you should be doing right now. We will be here when you are ready to make a coordinated therapy plan. In the meantime, we will keep checking in and are always here and ready to provide suggestions or answer questions when you reach out.
There’s no playbook or blueprint for "moving online" and conducting significant portions of our lives virtually at such a scale, with breakneck speed. At MOCO, our response is to remain true to our core values and prepare for changes that may very well stay with us after the pandemic has ended. MOCO has simply been growing and expanding, while staying flexible to meet the needs of the ever changing circumstances.
There is no way to know how long this crisis will last, or how it will impact each of us in the future, but we are all in this together. We ask families to be flexible and patient as they work to transition to this virtual world.
Thoughts to keep in mind are that we are here for you always. We will help you navigate insurance companies using online tools to maintain progress notes to ensure there is no loss of authorization. We want to encourage the continuity of care so that your child receives the treatment they require.
Now more than ever, we need to support each other. We are just at the beginning of our journey. This is by no means what any of us could have foreseen, but what matters is how we get through it - together.
We ask you to join us to help reimagine pediatric therapy, reimagine how we can continue to ensure that your child reaches his or her potential -reimagine ourselves in this new reality.