Dave Progl: ‘The Big Idea’

So my names Dave Progl and I’m a second year Physiotherapy student at the University of Southampton and also a student representative for the CSP. This means that I get to go to regional meetings representing my cohort and then to national meetings where as a region we represent our universities but also work collectively. This year our region won a national competition and I wanted to tell you my experience with ‘The Big Idea’.

Each region was asked to pick an area of Physiotherapy to improve and come up with an idea to present at the National Student Physiotherapy conference. Our region decided on Paediatrics so myself and Luke Rockett, a student form Bournemouth University did some research to find out exactly what was lacking in children’s Physiotherapy.  I interviewed a band 7 Physiotherapist from Paediatrics at North Hampshire Hospital who said along with parents not understanding their child’s sometimes physical treatment, the other noticeable problem was the child’s understanding of their own care. I then interviewed a parent of a child who had had physiotherapy who confirmed that her son not fully understanding his treatment had meant that she struggled with getting him to adhere to his treatment.

Talking to Luke we decided that our idea would be based around coinciding literature for parents and children, and to use a character based approach for the children. The idea behind this was that the child would bond to the characters and learn about their conditions and therefore become more self-sufficient.  Luke then decided to test this theory and went in to a Paediatric ward dressed as a super hero to teach children with respiratory problems about their illnesses and learning to care for themselves. The response was amazing and not only did the children respond well to Luke while he was there, they were asking to do their ACBTs to the MDT later that evening.

Using cystic fibrosis as an example to present at the conference we decided to split our efforts in to age groups. This was so that an infant wouldn’t just outgrow their characters and then be left without the additional help. I worked on ‘teddies for toddlers’ bringing in the help of Gary Whiting, a Bournemouth student where I developed a comic strip that introduced the child to a Teddy with cystic fibrosis and not only taught the child about their condition but gave them choice in their treatment. I also designed a teddy that the child could practice exercises with as well as using for comfort.

Luke worked on Superheroes for older children and brought in the help of Aly Rickard, a student from UWE (University of West England) working on ‘Captian Possitive’ and ‘Gail Force’ fighting the evil of ‘Mr Cystic Fibrosis’ and his sputum gun. They designed role play and motivational speaking to teach the children and brought in Alix Walker, a student from Cardiff to design the comic strips.

Gary and I presented the idea of ‘Teddies for toddlers’ to 150 student CSP representatives and a judging panel consisting of senior CSP officials, using comic strips and a teddy to show our product. When finishing our pitch we said that we had not quite finished and had not forgotten about the children getting older. It was then that Luke and Aly came charging in fully dressed a superheroes and re-enacted one of their skits calling all physiotherapy students ‘the heroes of the future’. We gladly took questions, feeling satisfied we had done all we could.

When the winners were presented we weren’t called out in second or third place, it was then we started to look at each other thinking about the possibility that we might win. ‘And the winner is the South West Region’ we jumped out of our seats in cheer. We thought we had a good idea but now we knew that other people agreed with us. The win was amazing for us but what was even better was that we genuinely had a good idea to improve physiotherapy and the CSP agreed with us. It hasn’t stopped there and I am now looking in to developing my teddy bear so that it could someday be used to help improve lives of the children that inspired us in the first place.

This just goes to show that a good idea is just that and it doesn’t matter if you are just a student or have been working in the industry for decades. I hope this can inspire some of you to believe that your good ideas are worth developing no matter what stage of your career you are in.

Thank you for reading,

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