Empowering families one session at a time

As a physiotherapist and key member of the Complex Care team, Olivia Lemery offers families of infants with complex health conditions much more than just exercises: she’s a source of encouragement and reassurance. Often, Olivia is the first health professionals to meet with a family to evaluate their child’s development, who may not be able to accomplish some of the milestones typical for their age group. “My role is to try and understand what might be interfering with a baby’s developmental abilities,” she explains. “Sometimes, my recommendation will be to pursue medical, genetic or behavioral investigations, and other times, I can create an individualized exercise plan with parents so that we can try to meet the next milestones together.”

Because her patients’ ages and developmental stages are so varied, Olivia relies on a wide range of skills to help her assess the source of a patient’s problem so that she can advocate for them in whichever way needed. The key, she says, is listening intently to a family’s feedback and concerns. “The family is the most important part of the team,” she insists, “because ultimately, they are the experts on their child and how they’re doing. Most of my patients aren’t verbal yet, so I rely on parents enormously. My role is really to guide them and educate them about how they can best promote their child’s development to achieve the best quality of movement possible.”

The best part of her job, she says, is during follow-up visits when families share their excitement about improvements. “It’s absolutely amazing and the best feeling ever when they tell me about even the smallest improvement,” she smiles. “It means I really did offer them the right individualized tools for their child, and we found something that really worked by partnering together. They walk away feeling that much more confident, and it’s so rewarding.”