In Conversation with Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist Chandra

World Physiotherapy Day falls on 8 September every year. It is a day when physiotherapists the world over are celebrated for their commitment towards helping people make positive changes to [...]

World Physiotherapy Day falls on 8 September every year. It is a day when physiotherapists the world over are celebrated for their commitment towards helping people make positive changes to their health and lifestyles. Sivanandam Chandrasekaran, or Chandra as he is affectionately known within SPD, is a senior physiotherapist helping children under SPD’s Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC). We catch up with him to find out more about what his typical day is like.

Q: What is a typical day like for you at SPD?

As a paediatric physiotherapist in SPD, I provide therapy intervention for children with physical disabilities up to six years old, to improve their postural control, facilitate their movement, correct their body alignment and develop their gross motor skills. I also work on each child’s ability to participate in school and family functional activities so that he will be able to take his full place within the community.

Working with and actively engaging the child’s caregivers and early intervention teachers to help them better manage the child is also part of my job as a paediatric physiotherapist. I recommend home strategies to caregivers to reinforce therapy goals in home settings. The monthly aqua-therapy programme is something I helped introduced in the past one year to our EIPIC children at SPD@Jurong.

Q: What does a physiotherapist do?
Physiotherapists are allied health professionals who support individuals of all ages, from newborns to the elderly who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.

We examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function and hopefully to slow down the disabling conditions. In addition, we work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility by developing fitness and wellness oriented programmes for a healthier and more active lifestyle.

Q: We’re sure you get asked this very often. How is a physiotherapist different from an occupational therapist?
A physiotherapist tries to improve the recovery on the impairment itself by increasing mobility, improving posture, muscle strength, balance, co-ordination and joints flexibility. An occupational therapist works with the clients on daily living tasks.

Q: What motivated you to become a physiotherapist?
Everyone wants the best for their families. I aspired to be a physiotherapist so that I could help my parents as they grow older. I also wanted to do my part in helping people with physical disabilities.

Q: What is the greatest reward of your job?
When caregivers of my young clients give positive feedback on their progress after every session, those are my greatest rewards and the motivation for me to do more for every child.

Q: Share with us a memorable experience.

The most memorable for me would be when I developed the aqua-therapy programme for the children enrolled in the early intervention programme at SPD@Jurong last year. Three young clients, accompanied by their caregivers, kick-started their first 30-minute aqua therapy session I conducted with an EIPIC teacher on 25 May. We received positive feedback from the parents and that encouraged me to continue this programme until now.

Q: In your opinion, what traits must one possess to be a good physiotherapist?
I believe a good physiotherapist should possess traits such as

– patience when working with kids or clients,
– ability to work as a team,
– good problem solving skills,
– a creative mind to come up with ideas when planning therapy sessions or changing treatment session goals,
– ability to encourage a child’s participation,
– ability to establish good rapport with families and members of other disciplines, as well as
– ability to work under pressure.

Q: Any words of wisdom for aspiring physiotherapists?
It would be good to first gain some general experience by volunteering in a community day rehabilitation setting. Before that, we would first need to have ‘P.A.S.S’, which stands for

Passion to treat people with disabilities
– being Attentive when listening to our clients
– ensure Safety of the clients we serve
– providing Support to clients and family members unconditionally

I also take this opportunity to wish all my ‘physio’ colleagues a happy World Physio Therapy Day!