Jenny Roy has always loved working with kids and while she was at Acadia for kinesiology she worked with the S.M.I.L.E program where she found a way to mix her two interests together. Now she is a pediatric physiotherapist and works out of the Pelvic Health Clinic in Cole Harbour, NS. Scroll through below to find out her number one tip for parents!
Jenny: “My name is Jenny Roy, and I’m a pediatric physiotherapist. I loved working with kids from a young age – in high school, I was a babysitter, dance teacher and worked at day camps in the summer. I went to Acadia for undergrad and was in the kinesiology program because I had a strong interest in the human body. There, I participated in the S.M.I.L.E. program and developed a huge passion for working with people with special needs. That’s what fueled my decision to go into physiotherapy – I saw it as a way to work with kids and people with physical disabilities, in combination with my interest in science and the body!”
Jenny: “I work at the Pelvic Health Clinic by Erika Burger Physiotherapy in Cole Harbour. I currently work with people aged 0-18 with any ability level. I see typically developing kiddos and teens with injuries, alignment concerns, pain, etc. I also see babies with things like torticollis/plagiocephaly, concerns about gross motor development, difficulty with tummy time, etc. And I love seeing kids and teens with neurodiversity such as cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism, muscular dystrophy, etc.
This month, I am training to also become a pelvic floor physiotherapist – so I’ll be able to help women with incontinence issues, pre-and post-natal concerns, etc. Then in September, I’ll be training to be a pediatric pelvic floor physiotherapist – and then will be able to help kids and teens with concerns like bedwetting, daytime incontinence, constipation, etc.! Our clinic’s specialty is pelvic floor physio, so I am so excited to be able to learn from my amazing colleagues and offer a new service for the pediatric population. “
Jenny: “After my kinesiology degree at Acadia, I completed my Master’s degree in Physiotherapy at Dalhousie. From there, I worked for a year in a hospital setting with adults but really wanted to work in pediatrics. So I moved to Ottawa where I worked both in a school setting and a private practice setting for pediatrics. I took extra post-graduate courses in pediatrics, and also had amazing mentorship from other pediatric physios there. Now that I’m back, I’m very excited to be diving into the pelvic floor world of pediatrics! “
Jenny: “I have experience with all ages – my youngest client was 3 weeks old. I see a wide variety of conditions, such as orthopedic concerns (alignment, torticollis, injuries, scoliosis, toe walking…) and neurological concerns (cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, coordination difficulties, etc.). I also see a lot of kids who are having trouble meeting their gross motor milestones, or are perhaps clumsy or lacking coordination. There also doesn’t have to be anything “wrong” – sometimes parents just want to make sure their little one is on the right track! I’m always happy to assess a baby or child to make sure their development is on track, and give the parent some peace of mind!”
Jenny: “My core values are to make sure my clients feel cared for, and to make physio fun! I try to understand what my clients’ interests are and incorporate them into my sessions – I like to take the physio treatments that I have for them based on the functional goals we have set and turn them into fun activities and games. So if a child comes in and loves Frozen, we might do a Frozen-themed obstacle course incorporating physio exercises. Basically, I want my sessions to look and feel like we are playing – but in actuality, we’re working really hard! For babies – I try to really get the parents involved so that they can incorporate treatment strategies into their daily lives at home, which will make the outcome that much more successful.”
Jenny: “As hard as it may be, try not to compare to others. Reaching a milestone early isn’t always better… Each milestone has a huge benefit to your little one’s overall development, and we don’t want to rush that! For example, crawling is so amazing for brain development – it teaches “bilateral coordination” that will later be useful for handwriting and fine motor skills. So I would actually prefer to see a baby crawl longer and reap those benefits rather than walk early. And this is the case for a lot of other skills too!
However, if you are concerned that your baby is “behind” or doing a skill in a “wonky” way… that’s totally valid! It’s your biological duty to protect your little human, so worrying is natural. I’ve had lots of parents bring their babies in for a gross-motor check even if there’s no real concern, and I love doing that! Why wait until a problem develops? Might as well be proactive. It is so worth it for the peace of mind to know your little one is on the right track or to get some suggestions and advice to help them along.”
Jenny: “The earlier the better. But if you’re not sure – you’re always welcome to reach out and ask if it’s something I can help with before booking an appointment!”
Jenny: “Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a physical disability – so you don’t often think of physiotherapy… However, some individuals with ASD may have difficulties with learning or social participation, and this can impact their gross motor development. Certain people with ASD have delays in their motor milestones, difficulty with coordination, etc. This can inherently make it even more challenging to participate in social games or activities with peers, as no one wants to feel like they can’t keep up.
Physiotherapy can help individuals to learn gross motor skills, such as jumping, throwing and catching, riding a bike, etc. The individual skills (balance, strength, coordination) don’t really matter themselves… but when a child or teen feels confident and successful in these skills, they are more likely to engage in activities that they feel competent in! And that is what actually matters, not the skill itself.
So by working on gross motor skills and physical literacy, confidence grows and so does participation in physical activity. Then, a child or teen may feel more successful and competent to participate with their peers. Here’s an example of one of my past clients: A 10-year-old with ASD hated going on family camping trips, because he had difficulty climbing the ladder to the bunkbed in the RV, and could not ride a bike (which was his siblings’ favourite activity). We worked on his balance, coordination and core strength to help him achieve these skills. One day, he came back to see me and told me he couldn’t wait to go camping again because he had such success with these skills and felt so confident. He also initiated bike rides at home with a neighbour, which was something he had never done before.”
Jenny: “You’re doing great!!! For gross motor development, variety is key – so try to expose your kids to lots of different types of physical activity. But remember that “unstructured” physical activity is just as important as “structured” activity. It doesn’t always have to be a formal sport, swimming lesson or dance class. Playing in the woods, building snowmen, play wrestling with dad, etc. are just as important!! And if your child does have a physical challenge that makes play or physical activity more difficult – remember that anything can be adapted! “
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