How do you get young kids to cooperate with orthotic fabrication and wear? How do you make sure the orthosis will stay put on their extremity? And, how do you make an orthosis on a child that can’t sit still?
Orthotic fabrication for kids can be quite challenging for all parties involved. Here are five tips to make the process easier for you and your young client:
Consider Age & Developmental Level
When fabricating orthoses for young patients, you must always consider the age and developmental level of your client. Younger children may be frightened by the clinical setting in general. To calm their nerves, prepare a quiet area for splint fabrication without distractions and noise. Let them play quietly or eat a snack while you prepare the pattern and heat up the thermoplastic material. Always explain to the parents and caregivers what you are doing so they are calm as well.
Keep Them Occupied
Give a small piece of the activated thermoplastic material to the child and parents to handle while you fabricate the orthosis. Let them feel it and play with it. Make an orthosis on their doll or toy so that they have a buddy going through the same process!
Enlist the young client’s cooperation with the orthotic wearing schedule by using your knowledge of what appeals to each age group. Everyone is attracted to the bright colors now available in thermoplastic materials and strapping materials. Younger children might like their orthoses to resemble animals, so try giving the splint an actual face! Older teenagers might be more encouraged by cool bright colors that match their favorite teams or school colors. Stickers or jewelry work across age groups to liven up and individualize the orthosis!
Monitor & Explain Wear
Children grow quickly, so you must monitor the fit of the orthosis frequently. Remember also that all children have unique hands that require custom designs and individualized intervention plans. Be sure to speak about the orthosis and proposed wearing schedule with the child and the parents/caregivers. Explain the purpose and the benefits of wearing the orthosis and make sure it feels comfortable.
Make Your Patient Feel Special!
Compliment the child’s finished product! Make him/her feel good about wearing it and let him/her show off their improved function, skills, or unique orthotic design to others in the clinic. Offer stickers if appropriate for the age group or take a photo and post it on the wall.
All of these tips together can increase your patient’s interest and cooperation when fabricating their orthosis! It’s all about going the extra step to make them feel comfortable and excited to wear their new device!