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Working with childhood disability changed my worldview.

Updated: Oct 25, 2019

Working in a field that is not well understood, even within healthcare, one of the questions I am frequently asked is ..Why are you here? What makes you do it? I can certainly say that disability is not an easy field - for anyone that is led into it, there is a long journey of growth and learning required to reach a place where you are able to intervene in an impactful way.


I never imagined that I would end up working with childhood disability. Cerebral Palsy is something that is touched on briefly at university, and the experiences we have are seldom meaningful enough for therapists to chose it after graduation. Most physiotherapists go into sports or musculoskeletal physiotherapy, which are more well established and better understood areas of practice. I did this too, gaining exposure in various fields , before arriving quite by chance at paediatric rehabilitation, and in particular, with a Bobath/NDT approach. It has been something that I have been deeply drawn to ever since, and one of the main reasons for it, has been the particular set of qualities that I have found in the people who work in this field and others I have met since.


Bobath/Neurodevelopmental Therapy is a problem-solving approach to cerebral palsy and other motor disorders, that is used by physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists. It's a forward-thinking way of approaching an intervention, where we try our best to understand each child individually- their movement, their being and their environments, and take a goal-orientated and holistic approach to intervention. The ultimate goal of this process is to prevent future problems, and to improve their ability to be independent, recognised and integrated into their families and communities.


Working in this field, and having had the privilege to know and learn from inspirational people, I can say that while disability may seem complex, it also creates meaning that is simple and beautiful. As we go, we learn that doing this work requires us to transition ourselves to a new way of being as health professionals, where we come to accept that we are all interdependent on each other, and that the best results come when we learn to embrace it. In order for this occur, we must continuously strive to engage, to better ourselves and be ready at any time to learn, to adapt and to try. And most often, this will be when space is created for hidden abilities to be seen and new potential can be unlocked.*


For more information on Bobath/Neurodevelopmental Therapy, visit www.sandta.org.za


*This article first appeared in the Annual Report (2017) of Little Eden Society.

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