Physiotherapy helps: highlighting the expertise of our physiotherapists

The month of May marks Physiotherapy Month in Canada: a chance to highlight the work of our dedicated physiotherapists, working with diverse patient populations throughout the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Join us in thanking all of our physiotherapists for the outstanding work they do to support our patients, families and fellow health professionals day in and day out.

From the moment she decided to pursue a career in physiotherapy, Rachel Gauvin says she always saw herself working in pediatrics. Since August 2014, the MCH physiotherapist has been part of the Chronic Pain team, evaluating patients who experience constant or intermittent pain, sometimes due to chronic illness and at times for a reason that isn’t yet known. “Chronic pain can be intimidating,” Rachel explains, “the challenge is to look at the patient on the whole rather than only look at the pain.”

While most of her patients are teens with chronic illnesses, chronic pain can also present itself in younger children in many different ways. Rachel’s work begins with a physical examination to assess a patient’s flexibiliy, range of motion and strength, but also includes a subjective evaluation to understand when they are experiencing pain and how long it lasts so that she gets a better picture of where they are starting from with the goal of increasing their overall functioning through activity.

 “It’s sometimes difficicult for teens to understand why activity is important when dealing with chronic pain,” she says. “They associate doing activity with feeling pain, and yet they need to move to feel better. It’s all about movement in small doses and breaking that cycle.”

Reflecting on the most rewarding part of her job, Rachel says she delights in her patients’ small victories of being able to accomplish something that they weren’t able to before. “The best feeling is when together we can pinpoint progress and see how far a patient has come. Sometimes we can forget where we first started, and it’s a great feeling to be able to recognize that success and celebrate when they get better.”