I am Missy Dafler, a Physical Therapist (PT) in Easter Seals Greater Houstons’ Children’s Therapy Program. We treat children ages 3 through adult in our clinic. Our child friendly clinic is designed to address the whole child, and all of our Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapists are trained in a variety of techniques to assist the child in reaching their full potential.
I was a physical therapist for 5 years before I took my NDT (Neuro-Developmental Treatment) certificate course. This intensive course is 268 hours of instruction over an eight month period, including classroom instruction and clinicals working with children that have neuromotor issues like spastic, athetiod, ataxic, and hypotonic cerebral palsy from mild to severe, traumatic brain injuries, rett syndrome, and a host of other diagnoses. I have never been so tired and educated in my life. It was like a whole new world had opened up for me and now I could really make changes in the children I saw daily.
I remember wishing I had this knowledge earlier in my career and how much more my prior clients would have benefitted. You see, NDT is not part of our physical therapy education. We are taught the basics of exercise, physiology of the body, anatomy, healing, and other things, but we have to learn techniques and treatment styles on our own. We are required to take 30 hours of continuing education every 2 years, but this NDT course exceeded this requirement greatly and couldn’t have been done without a generous grant we received to underwrite the expense.
As a result of this course, I feel like a more confident and competent physical therapist. I now know how to analyze the whole child, and I can see how all of the parts work together to make a whole. I can look at a task and dissect it to find the critical parts, and then work on those tasks to improve the whole child. Physical therapy isn’t just about getting a child to walk. It is about improving the lives of children and families. It is teaching kids to be able to get their own toys, their own shoes, or their own snack. It is about helping them play on the playground, kick a ball, or climb the steps in the stadium to watch the Cougars or Texans game. It is about making lives better through movement! and that’s what our Easter Seals Children’s Therapy Program is all about!