This past summer, a group of MU Physical Therapy students became children’s book authors.
Dr. Jamie Hall led her students in what she expected to be a small project for their ‘Case Management’ course. Since the course looked at neurological impairments over a lifespan, Hall wanted to present her students with the opportunity to effectively explain the diagnosis of Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) to three different age groups: boys aged four, eight, and twelve who had been diagnosed. Student teams were tasked with creating books that could provide a full range of expectations that came with DMD.
“I was kind of hoping that they’d tap into skills that they don’t get to use very often, like their creativity, but to do it in a useful way,” said Hall.
Her students were surprisingly engaged in the project. In teams of six, they wrote and designed books that featured superheroes, pirates, ‘Harry Potter’ characters, and even a pack of chicken nuggets. They would go on to present these books to faculty as well as interact with the work done by other groups.
Abbey Verslues, a DPT student who completed Dr. Hall’s project, has always been interested in practicing pediatric physical therapy, and says that this experience provided her with a new skillset to share with patients.
“I think students should be encouraged to complete this type of assignment because it serves as a great reminder to invite the child to be an active participant in their own health and therapy,” said Verslues.
Hall hopes her students took away the idea that communicating with kids on a level they understand is something to be intentional about, and that physicians should be making them part of the healthcare team. She emphasizes the need for them to be educated at a level they understand, and argues it’s worth taking that time.
“It was a learning opportunity for me as an instructor that maybe getting outside the box with how we do our learning is a valuable tool. The students’ creativity reinforced those ideas for me,” said Hall.
This project is expected to be utilized again, according to Hall. While the project itself went smoothly, she would like it to be more comprehensive next time. She aims to get more people involved at the start and have a wider access to be able to actually see the finished work.
“The products that came out of this just surpassed my expectations in all realms.”
Check out four of the student-created books:
The Three Pirates and the Missing D-Diamond
Henry Porter: The Journey of a Young Wizard with DMD
Staying Super with Muscular Dystrophy
DMD and Me: Living with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy