From the editor: Seeing Yourself
Children with lower extremity conditions and injuries rarely flip open a book or watch a movie or TV show in which they read about or see other children like them, who might wear a brace, use an assistive device, or need treatment from practitioners like orthotists, podiatrists, and physical therapists.
Children use toys and media characters to spark their imaginations and cast themselves as the star of their own stories. Through play, they connect with other kids and dream about their future. Yet kids with lower extremity conditions rarely find themselves or their challenges reflected in dolls, books, or other types of entertainment.
Earlier this year writer Jill Dorson covered the scarcity of media characters and toys with which kids who have a lower extremity condition can identify (See “Media, toys, and games for kids with disabilities,” February 2018, page 15).
That article also highlighted a rarity: a storybook called Beau and His New AFO written by three Canadian orthotic technicians. They wrote it, they said, “to normalize what it means to have an AFO or device.”
Now, another lower extremity practitioner has stepped up to contribute to the small collection of books in which her patients can see themselves and learn about the treatment she provides.
Benji Bounces Back: A Story About What It’s Like to Need Physical Therapy, introduces children to the concept of physical therapy, covering a young boy’s course of care from accident to recovery, and providing a lot of education along the way. It’s now available on Amazon.com.
Author Smita Charate, PT, wrote the book after she noticed that “children who come for physical therapy are often frightened because they don’t know anything about it.” She noted, “Concerned parents asked me about the availability of books that might introduce a child to the experience, so I searched and searched only to discover there was nothing.”
So, she wrote one. If you’ve ever felt inspired to write a book or develop a toy or game that demystifies what you do for your young patients—or gives them an opportunity to see someone like themselves in media—2019 could be a great year to create it.
By Emily Delzell, Senior Editor
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