This post is dedicated to all aspiring physiotherapists as well as current physiotherapists who are blessed with petite frames.
I may not be all that small-sized, but I am certainly not endowed with great strength and the ability to lift heavy weights (or, if you prefer, compressing a mannequin’s rigid chest). I’ve had my fair share of disappointments when it comes to transferring patients. Here’s a short description of what usually happens on such occasions:
He is twice my size, and possibly twice my weight. Great. Now what?
Okay, I can do this!
*Forms a firm and large base of support and prepares for transfer*
And then I say to the patient: “I will be helping you to move towards the edge of the bed. So, on the count of three. 1, 2, 3.”
This would usually then be followed by essentially no movement at all and then an awkward silence before we try again.
The above scenario definitely fits the common misconception that transferring patients requires a great deal of strength and that being smaller-sized than your patient is the worst thing that could ever happen! Well, that’s not entirely true. While strength is important, the key to an effective transfer is technique and choosing one that suits you: A clinical educator once shared that doing a “bobath transfer” could possibly be more difficult when your patient has a much smaller frame than you since there would be a large gap through which your patient could slip out of your arms. So, you really don’t have to be Hercules to be a physiotherapist!
Anyway, while Atiqah has been watching old sitcoms (as mentioned in the previous post), I’ve been reliving my childhood in a very different way — watching Playhouse Disney. One kiddy programme, “The Save-Ums”, inspired me to reflect on, well, being small. (Yes, I actually watched a full programme on Playhouse Disney.) The Save-Ums are preschool’s pint-sized super heroes who race to the rescue and solve preschool-sized emergencies through collaborative problem solving, critical thinking and the creative use of technology. “Small but powerful, believe it” was the rallying cry of these tiny super heroes. I felt that it was an inspiring motto to share since most of us are often faced with difficulties, albeit being far larger than “preschool-sized”, thanks to our weight, height and strength deficits.
So, to my petite friends, don’t beat yourselves up just ’cause you’re not muscular enough! Instead, learn from these Save-Ums and tackle your problems with some creative thinking! And don’t forget, SMALL IS POWERFUL, BELIEVE IT.