World Physiotherapy Day

Sunday 8th September is World Physiotherapy Day, the time to celebrate the wonderful achievements of all our physiotherapists across The Network.

The team at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick treat hundreds of children from all over the country every year.

Our teams do their jobs with one sole purpose – to get children moving.

Some of these patients have shared their physiotherapy journeys with us.

Watch or read their stories below.


Maya's Story

This World Physio Day we’re talking about the benefits of exercise for chronic pain.

Returning to activity despite the body being in pain is a very difficult task - especially for children and their families.

12 year old Maya was able to get back to her favourite hobby, dancing, thanks to SCH’s Chronic Pain Physio Andrew Gorrie and the Complex Pain team.

Maya sustained a very painful foot injury after slipping down some stairs. Although not a significant musculoskeletal injury, signals from her foot were being interpreted in her brain as pain.

“Pain syndromes such as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) occur when the central nervous system gets confused.” Andrew says.

“We know from functional MRIs of patients with pain syndromes that "danger", "memory" and "emotional" parts of the brain are more triggered than they are for acute pain.”

For Maya this meant things that wouldn't normally hurt at all were triggering pain, and things that would normally hurt triggered a huge amount of pain.

Her foot turned purple, she had trouble moving her toes, she needed crutches to walk, and most importantly she wasn’t able to take part in her weekly dance classes.

“As a physiotherapist in the Complex Pain Team my role is to help kids retrain their bodies and central nervous system with exercise.”

The first part of this is education - educating kids and parents that the bones and tissue are ok and still intact.

While exercise and movement might increase pain in the short term, increasing activity in a graded way helps to retrain the central nervous system that it is safe to do these things.

Once Maya realised that movement wouldn't damage her body she was able to engage really well in her physiotherapy program.

Her hard work and determination, as well as family support, made it easy for Andrew to give her guidance around safe ways to return to activity.

Many of our chronic pain patients will go on medicine for the rehabilitation program.

This typically improves sleep – kids can't heal without sleep; it also increases the "pain inhibition" from the brain that goes down to the different parts of body - this makes the pain experience better.

Maya’s physiotherapy sessions were a joint effort with one of our wonderful child life therapists who taught her distraction strategies to help her manage her pain while she was doing exercises; especially the use of "flow rings".

After a week of hard work Maya was able to return to some of her dance classes. After a month of treatment Maya made a great recovery and has just about returned to all her activity, including beginning her first ever pointe ballet class.

Mia’s story

Only 19 weeks into her pregnancy Leila found out their were complications with her daughter Mia.

At a routine scan doctors found that Mia’s hip and femur had not developed properly.

A few months later Mia came into the world and was officially diagnosed with Proximal femoral focal deficiency or PFFD.

PFFD is a rare non-hereditary birth defect that affects the pelvis, the hip bone and the femur.

In Mia’s case the affect was severe with doctors labelling her “one in a million”. After undergoing a number of surgeries Mia has recently been fitted with a prosthetic which she is now learning to walk on.

She visits The Children’s Hospital at Westmead weekly to learn to use her new “little leg” and with the help our her physiotherapy team she is improving in leaps and bounds.

Leila said she couldn’t thank the team enough for what they have done for Mia.

“The support that they give our family not only Mia but the support they give us all is incredible.

“They have reached out across the world to ensure the best physio treatment for Mia and I will forever be indebted to them.”