Campus Commons PT - February 2020


In a 2008 survey conducted by the National Trust in Britain, children were more likely to correctly identify a Dalek from “Doctor Who” than a barn owl. Likewise, a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study of 8–18-year-olds in the U.S. found that the average youth spends more than 53 hours a week engaged with entertainment media. These statistics, coupled with growing concerns that children are spending less time outdoors, are leading to terms like “nature deficit disorder” and global initiatives to get kids outside.

Why is contact with the outdoors so important? Researchers are answering this question by studying the benefits of time spent in nature. One benefit is that outdoor time helps kids understand boundaries and learn how to assess risk. As naturalist, author, and broadcaster Stephen Moss puts it, “Falling out of a tree is a very good lesson in risk-reward.” Not to mention, time in nature may help improve focus for hyperactive kids. In one national study of youths by the University of Illinois, participants’ attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms were reduced after spending time in a green setting versus a more urban one. This may be due to the fact that natural environments call upon our “soft fascination,” a less exhausting type of focus than what is required by urban environments. Emotional benefits were discovered too, including reduced aggression, increased happiness, and improved self-esteem.

Beyond just getting outside, the type of contact we have with nature also matters. Visits to nature centers and watching “Planet Earth” are two ways to experience the outdoors. But research points specifically to the importance of free play in the natural world: unstructured outdoor time when children can explore and engage with their natural surroundings with no curriculum, lesson, or activity to complete. Ever notice how kids are fascinated by the simplest things? A child visits a rose garden, but before they even get to the flowers, they become captivated by a leaf on the ground or an ant crawling on their shoe. Children are born naturalists. These are the moments we need to recapture. Take a page out of that kid’s book, and as the saying goes, stop and smell the roses — or leaves or ants — with no checklist and no plan, just time spent playing outside.

ASKING YOUR PHYSICAL THERAPIST THE RIGHT QUESTIONS CLASS IS IN SESSION! It can be helpful to view your physical therapy sessions like attending a class for bettering your daily physical health. After all, you’ll often need to do “homework,” adjusting your habits or approaches to exercise in order to recover. And much like in a classroom, your physical therapist doesn’t have to be the only one asking all the questions; an open dialogue is best for retaining pertinent information about your condition. condition, giving you an idea of how well-backed their

predictions are for your recovery. This can only contribute to your understanding of how to get better effectively. If motivation is a struggle for you,

seeing the big picture of what you’re going through can help make your exercises feel more important and like a higher priority.



Future injury prevention is just as important as recovery, and knowing the details of why the injury occurred in the first place can help. It’s also essential to gain a clear understanding of your condition and why certain exercises will help alleviate the pain and aid your healing process. “What will you teach me that will keep this from being a problem again in the future?” can also be a good question to ask.

While it’s not always possible due to scheduling conflicts, a consistent PT will help improve your recovery process. Having different therapists or aides try to handle your condition can lead to mix-ups and confusion. Try to keep your appointments on the same days and at the same times each week, and make sure you’re seeing the same person each session. Stay curious! Asking the right questions can help make your recovery process smooth and keep you well-informed, ensuring the injury doesn’t occur again in the future.


Also, “What are some obstacles or mistakes people with my condition often make? How long will it take for me to get better?” Your physical therapist can offer their expertise and explain how it relates to your 2

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