Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Building Relationships: A Pediatric Physical Therapist's Use of Play During Intervention Sessions


Physical Therapy


College of Health Professions

Date Range



Purpose: During intervention with children, physical therapists must consider the social roles and emotional needs of individual children and be able to engage children in activities through the use of play. The purpose of this study was to examine one pediatric physical therapist's use of play during intervention. Participant: The participant was a Pediatric Clinical Specialist with over 30 years of pediatric experience who practiced in a pediatric rehabilitation program. Methods and Materials: Qualitative, descriptive case study methodology was used. Data were gathered through (1) one-on-one semistructured interviews with the participant,(2) direct observation of the participant during intervention sessions with children, and (3) one-on-one interviews with parents of children receiving intervention from the participant. Analyses: Audio-recordings of the interviews were transcribed and analyzed using thematic content analysis. Trustworthiness was established through the use of member checking procedures, peer review, triangulation of data sources, and a reflexive journal. Results: Findings revealed that the participant used play to create social connections and interpersonal relationships with children and their families. A theoretical model was developed to depict the participant s decision-making processes in using therapeutic play. Conclusions: The participant s use of play appeared to provide a foundation for improved compliance during intervention sessions and thus may have facilitated progress toward physical therapy goals and outcomes. The model created from this data can be used to teach students and novice pediatric physical therapists ways to use play therapeutically during intervention sessions and will assist experienced pediatric physical therapists to reflect upon their own therapeutic use of play.

Conference Name

The American Physical Therapy Association's Annual Conference

Conference Location

Tampa, FL

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