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PT students video child development

Shooting For Impact

Physical therapy students and faculty have enlisted the help of Widener’s Communication Studies Department for a service-learning project that will impact children in Chinese orphanages. The project involves the creation of a video series for use by physical therapists working in Chinese orphanages that demonstrate how to facilitate normal child development.

“This video project came about after our School of Human Service Professions trip to Chongqing, China,” explained Dr. Kerstin Palombaro, assistant professor and community engagement coordinator in Widener’s Institute for Physical Therapy Education. “Physical therapy students were led by Dr. Sam Pierce to provide training for the physical therapists at the orphanage as well as to assess the children in the orphanage; at that point, the orphanage staff asked for further in-servicing either through video conferencing or video resources.”

Natashja Udzella, a physical therapy student from Wilkes Barre, Pa., explains that the initial videos suggest ways to have children explore their environment to facilitate motor development. She says that the Chinese nannies adhere to cultural norms, such as coddling and carrying children, even those capable of walking. Therefore, the children may experience delays in terms of their development.

Palombaro agrees that there is progress to be made in China in terms of education around what typical child development looks like and how to screen for and then provide therapy for children with physical impairments and delays. These needs dictated the content of the initial training videos.

Palombaro and Pierce hope subsequent videos may tackle topics such as how to stretch a child with cerebral palsy and how to use a therapy ball effectively. They hope to continue to partner with communication studies students to shoot and edit these videos to take advantage of the talent of Widener’s budding filmmakers and the state-of-the-art editing equipment in Freedom Hall.

“Our goal is that these videos can be used by anyone to help the growing population of children in China with developmental needs,” said Palombaro, who notes that the expense of caring for a child with special needs in China contributes to the increased population of children with disabilities in orphanages.

Widener physical therapy students and faculty have return trips planned to China in May 2015 and 2016 to begin introducing the videos and to deliver additional in-person trainings.