Survive hip dysplasia without becoming a patient yourself – look after your back!
Most commonly talked about in the work place, you rarely hear one parent talking to another about manual handling. Yet, during treatment for hip dysplasia, and in particular for older children, manual handling hazards are a daily occurrence. It’s often overlooked, as what needs to be done needs to be done. However, not looking after yourself when moving your child around can be, ‘the straw that broke the camels back’...literally.
Carrying, lifting, holding, pushing and pulling, pretty much describe what any parent does on a daily basis when looking after their child. Add awkward postures to the list, as you maneuver to get them into the car with the door only able to be half-opened, and you tick all the ‘high-risk manual tasks’ that workplaces seek to eliminate.
The way you hold a child in a harness, brace or cast is often awkward. Many find they hold their child longer than normal during treatment for a variety of reason. Whilst you can’t avoid all the risks, being proactive in looking after yourself and setting up your environment can help. Not all injuries are due to a direct event causing sudden damage; often it is the gradual wear and tear that has the biggest impact on our body.
So what can you do to prepare your body for hip dysplasia treatment?
- Stabilise your spine – engage your pelvic floor and brace your abdominal muscles. That’s right, those little muscle groups have a big role in protecting your back so get them fired up.
- Improve your general fitness – flexibility, stability, strength, coordination and cardio respiratory exercises all help to improve your body’s readiness for handling your child in their harness, brace or cast. If your child is older, consider going to a physiotherapist to get a set of exercises to properly prepare for the heavy and awkwardly positioned precious cargo you will be handling.
- Minimise stress levels – this is the hardest one and there is no easy solution to this unless you have mastered finding your Zen state. Try not to rush, take a few deep breathes when you feel overwhelmed and reduce distractions are a few simple suggestions. Stressful situations can bring out our fight or flight adrenaline response so just being mindful of this can help.
No time to prepare before treatment starts? Here are some tips to save your back
- Face square-on to your child when moving them
- Keep your feet at least hip distance apart to help you balance
- If you have a free arm lean against a table etc to support your weight
- Use your leg muscles, they are the most powerful
- Use momentum, such as gentle rocking back and forth, to get the movement happening
- Keep movement rhythmical
- Push rather than pull
- Change the environment, not yourself. It might take a few minutes longer but moving things around so you don’t have to lift and carry as far or creating more space to move freely will save you in the long run.
Just as your child’s treatment may be 24/7 you need to be mindful 24/7 that you too don’t end up the patient; otherwise what good are you to your child during their treatment.