The Children's Institute Blog

National PT Month: Learning From Yoga

Posted: Oct 26, 2017 by The Children's Institute

Physical therapist Katherine “Kit” Concilus sits on the blue mat, her legs folded symmetrically in front of her, and – with two teenage Children’s Institute patients in tow – she begins the yoga class.

“Eyes closed, lips together, teeth apart. Now, use your mind’s eye to explore the inside of you. Begin by looking at your own brain, imagining that you can actually see it. Now move your attention to your skull, and the muscles of your face, your forehead, softening any areas of tension.” Kit intoned, her voice gentle, even-keeled and, yes, somewhat soothing in this dimly lit room. “You are listening to your body and it will tell you what it needs.”

Kit has been practicing yoga for some 20 years and leading yoga sessions at The Children’s Institute for nine of those years. For patients with chronic pain, in particular, the sessions – held once each week, on Monday afternoons in the Multi-Purpose Room – have proven valuable as a part of physical therapy.

“We practice breath work throughout each session. We have educational handouts to reinforce our instruction.” Kit said. “And we catch patients at all different levels of their pain journey. Our hope is that our patients will learn these important skills and use them for the rest of their lives.”

Yoga instruction includes supervised practice of postural training, breathing techniques, stretching, strengthening, coordination, balance training and guided relaxation, Kit says in a letter she send to participants. Emphasis is placed on coordinating the breathing pattern with movement and paying attention to the details of body alignment. Activities can be modified as for individuals, while keeping a positive, quiet atmosphere.

Who benefits from the classes? People with diagnoses ranging from RND and chronic pain to those with brain injuries, developmental delays, and cerebral palsy are targeted. And the results are looking good.

Dozens of patients took part in the classes between 2014 and 2016, and metrics showed Functional Disability Inventory scores – a 15-item instrument originally developed to assess disability in children and adolescents with chronic abdominal pain – improved by 56 percent, after taking the class, in one year alone.

That’s reason enough for Kit to keep up the classes.

Like she says, anyone can tune in to the messages their bodies are sending them.

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