Getting therapy during the coronavirus

Getting therapy during the coronavirus
Posted on Mon 11 May 2020

Written by Jo Ford

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on children and adults living with cerebral palsy and other disabilities and their families. 

Prior to the pandemic, all our therapy – physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy - was provided face-to-face. But social distancing meant we immediately had to suspend face-to-face services back in March.  

Now, families are very worried the progress their child made in face-to-face therapy will slow down and vital equipment won’t be made available during the pandemic. 

We are finding parents are sleep deprived. They have no break during the day where their child would normally be at childcare or school. They have to keep their children occupied, support their child’s schoolwork and juggle their own work commitments. Plus, they can no longer rely on support from grandparents and other family members.  

On top of everything, parents have taken on the full responsibility of ensuring their child’s therapy continues. 

Why is therapy so important?  

2 in 3 people with cerebral palsy live with chronic pain. Frequent physical therapy is the most effective way to manage it. 

For children with cerebral palsy, it is even more important we intervene early. Therapy makes a difference in whether a child will walk, or speak, or utilise a device to speak. 

Where does Telepractice fit in? 

Telepractice enables people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities to access therapy online from the safety of their own home. So, despite the disruption to face-to-face services, crucial therapy can continue to help manage pain and build new skills. 

The response to telepractice has been very positive. We are pleased with how many of our families have wanted to give it a go.  They really appreciate keeping the routine of regular therapy and no longer having to worry their child will miss out.  

We have families tell us with all the things that are out of control, knowing their child’s therapy will continue is a great source of comfort. 

But some families just don’t have the technology to use telepractice. 

Some families don’t have a computer, or it might be shared with other family members who need it for schoolwork.  

For other families, internet connectivity is a real challenge and they don’t have a data plan.  

And some families simply do not have the technical skills to use online telepractice. 

The biggest reason these families cannot simply go out and buy the things they need is because they cannot afford it.  

Not having the right technology should not be the reason they cannot continue vital, pain-relieving therapy during the coronavirus. 

The solution lies in Telepractice Support Kits. They  include:  

  • A 4G-enabled Samsung tablet 
  • Protective case 
  • Google Play card to get apps (particularly for children in therapy)  
  • A card to give them access to data.  

The family will also get support from staff member to help them set up their device and training to use the Health Direct platform. 

When I heard about the donations from our corporate partners, I was completely overwhelmed. The speed of response to our families in need was so quick and so generous and something I’ve never experienced before. So, I want to say a massive thank you to our partners.  

Your support can make a big impact  

All of us have had to rethink how we use technology to carry on with our daily lives. To think someone cannot access therapy because they don’t have technology is a situation everyone can relate to on some level. 

For people living with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, your support means the difference between suffering needless pain or having the essential therapy they need to minimise their pain. 

For children especially, your support to continue their essential therapy will set them up for life.  

You can donate to our Emergency Telepractice Appeal here. 

  Jo Ford is the General Manager of Therapy Services at Cerebral Palsy Alliance

You are invited to participate in an online survey about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your child with a neurodevelopmental disability or rare genetic disorder.