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How to Improve Wellness for Children? Start With This Program

Children's Health
Author name: Lee Health


Local kids have fun with exercise, sleep, stress relief, and nutrition

Consider the success of the Compass Pediatric Rehabilitation Wellness Program like a midfield soccer kick lofted into the back of the net. As World Cup announcer Andres Cantor would exclaim (for at least 15 seconds, probably longer): “GGGGOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!”

After all, Christine Martin got the idea for the wellness program on a soccer field. She volunteers as a trainer with the Cape Coral Soccer Association (CSSA) and U.S. Youth Soccer TOPSoccer, two nonprofit, educational organizations that give local kids the chance to play soccer.

Christine’s also a licensed physical therapist (PT) with Pediatric Orthopedic Rehabilitation (at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida). Her PT expertise came in handy at Cape Coral’s Pelican Soccer complex one Saturday morning when Zackory Campagnolo came limping off the soccer field. Christine immediately assessed the 13-year-old and diagnosed him with a hip flexor strain.

Zackory’s injury prevented him from running or engaging in other sports-related activities and required physical rehabilitation therapy. Christine and Zackory worked together twice a week in 45-minute sessions to reduce his hip pain, increase flexibility, strengthen muscles, and improve his balance to prevent future injury.

Six months later, Zackory returned full-strength to the soccer field.

How did the program start?

Christine thought that patients like Zackory, after completing their rehabilitation, could benefit from a program that continued to emphasize health and wellness beyond their physical therapy sessions, with the idea of avoiding injury again.

“Many middle-school kids don’t have access to wellness programs in our area because gyms tend to have age limits while others require that adults accompany the kids,” Christine explains. “As a result, some of these children don’t get the chance to learn about different exercises and how to safely perform them. Also, some kids are uncomfortable joining organized sports teams to get physically fit, so they miss that learning about health and wellness.”

Christine also noted that some families were frustrated by insurance caps that limited rehabilitation sessions for their children. “Parents were feeling this barrier led to early treatment discharge before their child was restored to full independence,” she says. That’s why Christine initially developed the Compass Pediatric Rehabilitation Wellness Program for graduates of Pediatric Orthopedic Rehabilitation.

How does the program work?

Christine’s program teaches kids ages 10-13 how to continue a healthy lifestyle and grow their wellness knowledge.

“They explore healthy habits such as exercise, sleep, stress management, and nutrition in fun ways that include games, yoga, resistance equipment, and physical activities,” she says.

Christine recruited five second-year students from the physical therapy program at Florida Gulf Coast University to help teach the program. Classes, which started in February of 2019 at Pediatric Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Fort Myers, met for eight weeks.

Before beginning the program, each child picked three physical activities such as lying flat, squatting, running, hopping, pulling, lifting, and carrying that he or she wanted to improve and were asked to rate their ability to perform the activities. Two months later, they’d measure their progress.

Exercise. Progress. Confidence.

Jason and Amanda Campagnolo, Zackory’s parents, were so impressed by Christine’s rehab work with their son they asked if their 15-year-old daughter Matheson, could join the Compass Pediatric Rehabilitation Wellness Program. Like her brother, Matheson plays soccer on the weekends.

She participates in TOPSoccer, a modified version of the game of soccer that provides opportunities for special needs children ages 4-29.

“We’re on both sides of it,” Jason says. “Because Zackory plays competitive sports, we thought the program could teach him more about nutrition, stretching and preventive wellness for what he does. Our daughter Matheson, who was diagnosed with autism, could learn stretching practices and improve her balance.”

Sure enough, the Campagnolo kids joined the program, and two months later, even Christine was surprised at the results, not only with the brother and sister’s progress but with all the participants’ progress.

“To a child, everyone said they were sleeping better,” Christine says. “That surprised me. All the kids improved their balance and became more competent with activities and exercises. It was neat to see the changes. They were faster, stronger, more confident, and their social interaction skills got so much better. Everyone’s parents loved it!”

“The program has been fantastic,” Jason says. “Our children learned so much. Zackory knows more about nutrition and how it affects him. Matheson’s posture has improved. Christine and the instructor were really engaged. The program is just great.”


Sign your children up today

The program offers a pay-as-you-go payment plan for each session that also covers the cost of all equipment. A bundled payment plan offered also covers the entire 8-week program. Payment is required before sessions start.

To register or for more information, call 239-343-7464.

Lee Health has multiple outpatient rehabilitation facilities that are conveniently located across Southwest Florida, including Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, Naples, and more.

Outpatient Rehabilitation is available for both children and adults. For adults to schedule an appointment at one of our Outpatient Rehab facilities, call 239-343-1999. To schedule an appointment for Pediatric Outpatient Rehab facilities, please call 239-343-7464.

If you would to contribute to Healthy News, please contact us at [email protected]

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