Children of Israel's ALYN Hospital are rehabilitation champions - opinion

Swimming, basketball, bocce: Children with disabilities experience rehabilitation at ALYN Hospital.

 A YOUTH goes to the hoop at a previous ALYN Therapeutic Sports Day.  (photo credit: ALYN HOSPITAL)
A YOUTH goes to the hoop at a previous ALYN Therapeutic Sports Day.
(photo credit: ALYN HOSPITAL)

My colleagues and I decided to create a special day for our special patients.

How do we convince a child to go through difficult physiotherapy that requires great effort and to persist with the rehabilitative treatment after injury, a serious accident or illness? ALYN Hospital, the only hospital in the country that specializes in the rehabilitation of children and adolescents with physical challenges, has the answers.

Today, medical experts worldwide understand that sports activities have a tremendous positive impact on the physical and mental state of healthy adults, and that such activities are no less important for children who are recovering from serious injuries or have chronic medical conditions. Sports activities develop the skills of children with motor disabilities, broaden their range of movement, improve their quality of life, contribute to their social abilities and influence the child’s self-image.

Using sports as rehab

ALYN Hospital is at the forefront of leveraging sports activities as one of many therapeutic and rehabilitative tools for children who have various orthopedic injuries, disabilities or special needs. A Therapeutic Sports Day will be held at the hospital that combines physiotherapy and varied sporting activities, include swimming, wheelchair basketball, the paralympic sport bocce, wheelchair relay races, cycling, air hockey, bowling and more. It will take place tomorrow.

As a result of their conditions, children with disabilities face social difficulties and problems integrating with their peer group. For example, children who can’t run well on both feet will often face social exclusion, since they can’t take part in ball games with their friends during break or in physical education class. Utilizing therapeutic sports as part of an intensive therapeutic program offers another tool toward maximizing the abilities of the children and providing them with the skills for living an independent life by reducing their dependence on others. In this way, the sports activities help to integrate these children into society, while improving their quality of life.

 THE WRITER poses with a child who is a patient at ALYN Hospital. (credit: OREN BEN HAKOON) THE WRITER poses with a child who is a patient at ALYN Hospital. (credit: OREN BEN HAKOON)

Through sports, ALYN Hospital therapists aid the physical rehabilitation of children who face long-term consequences of serious injury or sickness. They learn how to use their bodies in their current states and how to maximize their abilities despite their limitations. In addition to improving their motor skills, the children learn how to cope with their disabilities and to live with them in peace.

At ALYN Hospital, the aim is to maximize the rehabilitative process of children with disabilities and to succeed in integrating them into society in the best way possible, including giving them the tools to enjoy participating in fun sports activities, just like any other child.

ALYN Hospital is an officially registered non-profit facility and only a portion of each child’s care is reimbursed by the Israeli health funds. Consequently, ALYN Hospital relies on donations to bridge the gap between reimbursements and the actual cost of care.

The writer is a physical therapist at ALYN Hospital.