Fairytale Physical Therapy: A Magical Activity for Students and Patients
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes
The Beginnings of FTPT
A hospital is a stressful place for children and their caregivers. Adding to the emotional stress are all of the anxiety producing factors of the hospital such as the rushing around of physicians and nurses, harsh lighting, mechanical noise and the overall alien feel of the environment. As health care providers, we know that when in the hospital, it is important to try to maintain quality of life in order to prevent depression, anxiety and other disorders that will negatively impact care (Drahota et al, 2012). Research has shown that patients will either become compliant or resistant to the hospital atmosphere, with both types being a state of depression, anxiety and anger (Devlin et al, 2003).
We, Jenna Kantor and Katie Schmitt, 3rd year students at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in the Department of Physical Therapy, have found a way to bring a fun, emotional escape for children in hospitals by co-founding Fairytale Physical Therapy (FTPT) during the our first semester in our first year of school. FTPT brings Disney-based musical theatre shows to children in hospitals, teaching dances composed of therapeutic exercises. At the end of each show, either PT or OT students lead a tactile craft activity. This is an entirely student-run organization that brings leadership, volunteer, and outreach opportunities to PT and PTA students.
Leading a Magical Performance
After finishing our 2nd year at CUMC, we have done 15 performances for over 150 children at Weill Cornell Medical Center/ New York Presbyterian Hospital, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Blythedale Children’s Hospital. Participation has included all three years of students in the PT program, second year students in the OT program and students from Mercy College. We have submitted an IRB and are in the midst of publishing our first research study (qualitative retrospective cross-sectional) based off of optional anonymous surveys that have been filled out at the end of each performance. We have performed "The Frozen Show," "The Little Mermaid Show," and "The Lion King Show." In the fall of 2017, we will be bringing to life "The Aladdin Show" and "The Beauty and the Beast Show." Now, we are moving onto our next goal - spreading FTPT to other schools.
With CUMC as the home base for any necessary guidance, we are aiming to bring FTPT as a service learning project to every PT and PTA school in the United States. It may seem like a lofty goal, but this is very possible. We have the karaoke music, soundtracks, videotaped therapeutic exercise choreography, rehearsal contracts, different versions of the scripts (depending on how many people are able to volunteer), show pamphlets, anonymous surveys, and a "how to" manual ready to share. For those worried about singing, do not fret. You do not have to be the best, you just have to have fun. If you can lead a patient in therapeutic exercises, you can teach the FTPT choreography.
The aim is for each school to have a representative from each class to connect with a nearby hospital. We have email templates to help you make the initial contact and we know that your school likely has amazing faculty that can help you network with pediatric hospital locations. Set-up is minimal with just a computer and speakers needed. The costumes may be as simple as a shirt with the name of the character written on it or it can be purchased online.
Opportunities to Get Moving and Make a Difference
Bringing FTPT to your school is a fantastic opportunity to bring happiness to children and their families, learn more about the pediatric setting in hospitals, get a therapeutic workout, build your resume, and take a break from memorizing anatomy and biomechanics of the human body.
To learn more about FTPT by visit our website, Facebook page, or send us an email.
Jenna Kantor, SPT, and Katie Schmitt, SPT, are co-founders of FairyTale Physical Therapy. You can find Jenna on Twitter at @JennaKantor.
Devlin, AS., Arneill, AB., (2003), Health Care Environments and Patient Outcomes: A Review of the Literature. Environment and Behavior. 35: 665. doi:10.1177/0013916503255102
Drahota, et. al. (2012), Sensory Environment on Health-Related Outcomes of Hospital Patients. Cochrane Library, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 3, DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005315.pub.2