“It was really tough.”
That one sentence can sum up the past few months for any business owner.
It was especially true for physical and occupational therapists at Collaborative OT Solutions.
“It was a very uncertain time because we didn’t know if funding was going to be available,” said owner and therapist Jennifer Canaris. “We’re very hands on people and….it’s definitely created a learning curve.”
Canaris has operated her clinic in Chula Vista’s Eastlake community for six years. Her therapists focus solely on helping children. Since the pandemic changed the rules for all businesses, she said Collaborative OT Solutions clients have dropped to roughly 40%.
“Occupational therapy and physical therapy for children is a very hands-on therapy,” Canaris said.
She said they immediately instituted telehealth and teletherapy sessions to maintain contact with their clients, but it was tough.
“It’s almost like your hands are tied in front of you and now you’re relying just on coaching,” she said about therapy sessions through video conferences. “For all of us as therapists, it’s been a huge adjustment.”
“I was really worried because we were seeing so much progress with him,” said Heather Madaffari whose son Emerson has been receiving therapy for more than a year.
“He broke his arm twice within one year,” she said. “So, he started physical therapy with that, and we’ve been working on overall strength with him.”
Canaris quickly realized the therapists would have to train parents to help with more of the physical one-on-one drills because asking a child to sit in front of a screen was a tall order.
“Really, it’s our job to help coach and train the parents," Canaris said. “Letting the parents know that we are there as a support system for them.”
“They’ve taught me all kinds of different skills and I’ve learned so much more through teletherapy,” Madaffari said. "Just because now I am the one that’s one-on-one and doing those things with him.”