VOICES OF ALEH’S PROFESSIONALS
An Interview with Hindy Weinger, MSPT
Hindy Weinger is a physical therapist at ALEH’s rehabilitative and residential center in Jerusalem. In a fascinating interview, Hindy, who hails from Monsey, NY, describes her day and what it’s like to be part of the ALEH family.
The main purpose of physical therapy is to improve the quality of life for each ALEH resident. Physical therapy is absolutely vital to children with disabilities. The ultimate goal of this type of treatment is to enhance mobility and function, so that the individual can become more independent and participate more in his/her communities. Typically, sessions are individually tailored to the needs of the person and combine exercise, balance, and coordination activities to enable a more enriched, satisfying life for the resident.
Therapeutic exercise and therapy help decrease pain, promote muscle elasticity, reduce swelling in the joints, and increase mobility. For those with developmental disabilities, balance challenges and reaction and coordination games can help improve gross and fine motor function, proprioception, and visuomotor skills. Aside from the physical benefits of this type of therapy, these sharpened skills help increase self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.
“I work with many different populations at ALEH. I’m part of a team of six physical therapists, and we work with the full gamut of children,” says Hindy. “There are children I work with who are lower functioning, and they need intensive weekly therapy to help them progress. Then there are the children who are at a higher level of functioning, and just need weekly follow-up sessions to keep track of their progress.”
Hindy explains that all of the staff members at ALEH work together as a team to improve the quality of life for the children. “The ALEH staff is interdisciplinary. We plan out programs together with the doctors, the nurses, the caregivers. We’re in sync with all aspects of the children’s care.”
“We work with the children based on their individual level. Some exercises are geared toward helping the child learn to walk. Some exercises help implement better system devices, so the children can learn to be more independent. For some children, our goal is to improve their head control so they can participate in activities. Every child is different. Every child is a world of his or her own.”
ALEH’s facilities are state-of-the-art, with a host of therapeutic equipment and aids. ALEH offers a wide range of therapies to ensure that each child receives the care they need. Besides for physical, occupational, and speech therapy, ALEH also provides respiratory therapy, hydrotherapy, and even animal therapy, if the staff believes it will benefit the child.
“We do yoga with the kids, and have many engaging, interactive group activities. ALEH has an amazing exercise room full of passive gym equipment, modified so that ALEH’s children can use it. I work with every child one-on-one, whether in their classroom, or in the therapy rooms. Every child receives individualized, personal treatment. We create a customized therapy plan for each resident, based on their past progress and future goals.”
Hindy clarifies that when it comes to therapy, consistency is vital. In order to ensure progress is made, therapy has to be given with a plan in mind, and on a very steady basis. “ALEH is run like a school. Every classroom is assigned a physical therapist, and every day at ALEH is extremely organized, planned to the max to ensure each child gets the most out of every activity. Our goal is to ensure that they are constantly progressing and moving forward.”
ALEH’s success can be seen in the growth of its residents. With excitement in her voice, Hindy recounts one of her favorite stories.
“There was a child who came to ALEH at eight months old with a rare genetic disease. Her cognitive function was extremely limited, she had a feeding tube and very little control over her body. I never thought she would walk or even sit up on her own. But two years later, at the age of three, SHE IS WALKING! She sits up, and she can even eat on her own. She’s a real success story.”
ALEH is a place that proves that love and genuine care have no boundaries: “What’s truly amazing about ALEH is that it’s truly inclusive. We treat every human being, no matter where they come from. It’s something that is unique to ALEH, unique to Israel as a country as well.”
ALEH is a place for children and adults of all ages: “There are babies that are few months old at ALEH, young children, teenagers, and even one resident in his thirties. ALEH becomes their home, the place they grow up. It’s like a family. Without ALEH, these children would be stuck in hospitals and would not have access to proper care.”
There is no place in the world quite like ALEH: “ALEH gives them a chance for a satisfying life. I see the children every day. They are happy at ALEH. Happy and fulfilled. There’s never a limit to what they can accomplish. There is always something more we can do to improve their lives.
There’s a constant opportunity for me to make a difference. And that’s what makes ALEH so special.”
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