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Patient programs

Patient programs

Patient programs

The BFit program – the power to move

  • BFit Power Based Exercise program: Two sessions per year, 12 weeks, two times per week
  • BFit Power Based Cycling Club:  Eight weeks each summer

These power based exercise programs are designed to aid our patients with neuromuscular diseases such as cerebral palsy. Working with physical therapy and exercise science students from area colleges, participants are actively involved in exercises designed to help them walk faster, have better quality movements and learn to be more active at home.

With the assistance of doctoral students from the University of Hartford, we developed our program based on a review of the literature on the effectiveness of strengthening programs for children and adolescents. Recent studies show that traditional strengthening programs build strength but do not translate into improved function, such as walking faster or further. In order to do this, we need to incorporate a component of power into the program. Power training involves moving at faster speeds and lower loads than traditional strengthening. BFit integrates socialization with college students as personal coaches, expert supervision by physical and occupational therapy staff from our hospital, music for motivation and energy, and a wide variety of group and individual exercises.

Patients have seen improvement in physical functioning by being able to walk better and faster. They feel they are participating in an activity where they belong, which empowers them to work harder to become stronger. BFit has also created positive changes that were unexpected. Parents have noticed that their children are more focused in school and interested in trying new things.

Pet therapy

For over 15 years, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Springfield has enjoyed a relationship with the K-9s for Kids program. Trained handlers bring their dogs to the hospital twice a month to interact with patients and families in an effort to help normalize the hospital setting.

The benefits of pet therapy include:

  • Decreased anxiety and reduced stress due to hospitalization
  • Enhanced self-esteem
  • Help verbalization and communication skills
  • Provide a calming effect and diversion from normal hospital routines
  • Relieve depression
  • Have a sense of control and mastery
  • An opportunity for humor, child-like play and fun!

The Reach Out and Read model

Doctors, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals incorporate Reach Out and Read's evidence-based, three-part model into regular pediatric checkups in the hospital’s outpatient department:

  • Trained doctors and nurses speak with parents about the importance of reading aloud to their child starting in infancy.
  • At each regular checkup from 6 months through 5 years of age, the child receives a new book to take home.
  • Many Reach Out and Read program sites create literacy-rich environments that include gently-used books for waiting room use and/or volunteer readers to model for parents the techniques of reading aloud to young children. Our evidence base of 16 peer-reviewed research studies shows that during the preschool years, children served by Reach Out and Read score three to six months ahead of their non-Reach Out and Read peers on vocabulary tests. These early foundational language skills help propel children on a path of success when they enter school.
   
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