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  • Writer's pictureShayna Gavin, Splash Principal Physiotherapist

Aquatics & disability professional development

I presented professional development for the Australian Physiotherapy Association's Aquatics and Disability groups, alongside skilled colleagues, Samuel Curtis and Kelly Gibson.

Samuel presented a case study highlighting use of informed decision making and the dignity of risk. He referred to the Supervision and Delegation Model in Allied Health, published by the Department of Human Services last year, which looks at how and when responsibility can be transferred over from a physiotherapist to another person, such as a support worker or allied health assistant. We at Splash use this document to assist in this decision making with our families and in planning our interventions.

Kelly presented a case study explaining her assessment, goal setting, risk management and clinical reasoning processes where there are complex interlocking needs, and the treatment approaches used.

And I was asked to speak on the APA's Aquatic Physiotherapy Guidelines. The APA leads the world on these, and they are used internationally. While we work with these daily at Splash, and I teach on these in the APA aquatic level 1 and 3 courses, they are very technical and full of information!

Shayna Gavin speaking at the APA

Image description: Shayna is speaking to colleagues at the Australian Physiotherapy Association

I turned quiz master to find an active way to engage the crowd. We know from neuroplasticity research that learning activities must be both active and meaningful to make a difference. I hoped the content was meaningful as the physios had chosen to come to the lecture! Making a new friend to form a team, and trying to beat the presenters' score, made it active. It was fun to use a new learning tool in my teaching too!

APA guidelines for aquatic physiotherapists

Image description: title page of the Australian guidelines for aquatic physiotherapists working in and / or managing hydrotherapy pools, 2nd edition.

The night was convened by Jess Kuek, chair of the Victorian Disability Group for the APA. We finished off with a panel discussion doing our best to answer curly questions from the crowd! Physiotherapy in aquatics and disability is rarely simple. We are generally working with people with complex interlocking needs, with many considerations to be made. Often that means there is no quick answer to questions asked by families or by physio colleagues! We did our best on the night, referring our colleagues on to resources they can look in to. And with Splash families, we like to set aside time to go through information accurately. Sometimes that means conversations over a period of time to develop an understanding of how an issue is relevant for an individual. But that is part of capacity building for families and the children we worth with, in learning more about their individual learning needs and how we can optimise them in every day life!

Thanks to my colleagues for making a great team with some meaty discussions. These sorts of learning opportunities are invaluable for us as physios working in such complex areas.

Image description: from left to right Shayna Gavin, Samuel Curtis, Kelly Gibson, and Jessica Kuek, physiotherapists providing professional development at the Australian Physiotherapy Association. The event's title, 'Aquatic Physiotherapy for People with Disability' is in the background.

Useful tools referenced here:

Shayna Gavin is a physiotherapist who is passionate about helping babies, children and young people learn functional skills so they can participate in life at home, school and in their community. Recognising that children do best in their own environments, she visits homes, schools, and leisure activities from football fields to ballet classes. She also has daily aquatic physiotherapy sessions available at two private swimming schools in Moonee Ponds and Greensborough, Melbourne. She combines principles of paediatric physiotherapy, Contemporary Neuro Developmental Treatment, motor learning, and swimming teaching to address the individual needs of each child and their family. She loves providing professional development to physiotherapists, allied health and education professionals, allied health assistants and swimming teachers.

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