New sporting rehab programme benefits children with disabilities
Children in Norfolk are benefitting from a new rehabilitation programme to improve their fitness after surgery or illness, based on boxercise and sports such as wheelchair tennis and basketball.
The new programme is a partnership between the Jenny Lind Children’s Department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), Active Norfolk and the UEA Sportspark.
Rachael Hutchinson, Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon at NNUH who helped to set up the programme, said: Strength and aerobic fitness is so important in keeping this group of children functioning as young adults and traditionally it is very difficult to deliver this type of programme within the standard hospital set-up.
“Children with disabilities can often grow up not thinking they are able to participate fully in sport and lack confidence and they may not be doing regular physical education at school. This year’s paralympics has helped to change perceptions and we want these children to become more physically active.”
Sue Coombe, Senior Neuromuscular Paediatric Physiotherapist at NNUH, said: We are able to offer the children block sessions of ‘treatment’ to improve their strength and fitness using sport as the driver.
“Children will be referred by their physiotherapist if they feel they have lost some strength or would benefit from being stronger. This may be post-surgery, after a growth spurt or at a time when we want them to be more active.
“There is an added benefit that they meet other youngsters who have disabilities when this may not happen if they are attending a mainstream school.”
Children are signed up to a six week block where once a week they attend the Sportspark for a 45 minute session of conditioning training delivered by Jon Thaxton a personal trainer and former boxer. This is followed by 45 mins of different sports which can be adapted for patients with disabilities such as wheelchair versions of tennis or basketball. The sessions are being supported by Sportivate funding which is a £56 million London 2012 Lottery legacy project that is administered locally by Active Norfolk.
The children are supported in the sessions by hospital physiotherapy staff plus the local coaches.
Mrs Hutchinson adds: “The hope is the children will not only get stronger and more confident in a fun way, but may find an activity they choose to continue outside the hospital setting once the course finishes.”