Nursing in Pediatric Rehabilitation

I currently work as a Nursing Supervisor at a magical place where FUN is a core value. The series of events that led me here involved a change in my career path due to the loss of my father, and the need to be closer to home to help my mother, who continues to fight her own lengthy battle with cancer. I firmly believe that we are often led to the place where we were meant to be. I am grateful to work for an organization that practices and leads with kindness and compassion.

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As a pediatric nurse who has primarily practiced in the acute care clinical setting, it has been an enlightening experience to enter the unique world of pediatric rehabilitation. This area of specialty focuses on infants and children (aged 0-21 years) to help improve the physically-limiting disabilities and illnesses, and support/elevate the child’s level of growth and development (ARN, 2016). The pediatric rehab nurse provides a high level of skilled nursing care that fosters recovery and/or adaptation techniques to maximize the child’s potential as they recover from an injury, surgery, congenital anomaly, or chronic illness (ARN, 2016). They are strong patient advocates that ensure each patient’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs are met. Rehab nurses are also teachers; they teach patients, families, and caregivers everything that they need to know (GT feeding, ventilator/tracheostomy care, suctioning, wound care, CPR, etc.) so that their child can (one day) return home.

Rehab nurses get to know their patients and families well because patients can remain in an inpatient rehab facility for a long period of time; often for several months. Rehab doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time and patience. We celebrate the small victories, like tolerating weaning from the ventilator for extended periods of time, or slow decreases in morphine doses for infants who were born from a drug addicted mother.

The process for a patient who must re-learn how to walk, or how to manage/live with the reality of never walking again…or re-learn how to swallow, eat, and eventually speak, can be overwhelming and extremely challenging. It takes patience, dedication, and a lot of hope and faith. In the short time that I have been at my organization, I have seen remarkable success stories firsthand. Most recently, I witnessed a fifteen year old girl re-learn how to walk after sustaining a spinal cord injury from being hit by a car. I held my breath the first time I saw her walking toward me in the hallway with a huge smile on her face. She had worked so hard to free herself from the confines of her electronic wheelchair. Her success is celebrated and shared by all who participated in her recovery.  I am so proud to work at such a special place!

 

 

References

Association of Rehabilitation Nurses. (2016). Pediatric rehabilitation nurse. Retrieved from https://rehabnurse.org

Children’s Specialized Hospital. (2015). [Fight Face Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ugxns0hYZqo

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