Joanne Weltman: Reach Your Potential
1. Talk a little bit about your clinical practice/business.
I graduated from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1991 with a Bachelors of Science in Physiotherapy. I spent 2 years working in the general hospital in Johannesburg, rotating through all the pediatric wards. I then completed her California Physical Therapy Licensing exam and was fortunate enough to work in a hospital in San Diego, learning about Sensory Integration Therapy. I then spent 2 years working in a school for children with Cerebral palsy in Aukland New Zealand, before coming to live in Toronto Canada in January 1997.
I completed her Physiotherapy National Exam and started working for Early Intervention Services of York Region, working with a variety of children with Special Needs. During my 4 years at EIS, I was able to develop a strong foundation in understanding and networking with the various government-funded services available for children in Toronto. I also worked in part-time positions for COTA, that supplied home therapy for children, Zareinu School for children with Special Needs and York pediatric Therapy Services, a private practice, which allowed me to further my networking and knowledge. During this time I took many courses in pediatrics including some that are normally recommended for occupational therapists and speech therapists, as I wanted to gain a holistic knowledge base in my approach to working with children. In 1998 I completed her Level I course in Cuevas MEDEK therapy, a very specialized technique in Physiotherapy for children. Following that, I completed my Level II course and in 2003 was one of the first 3 physiotherapists in the World to be accepted to complete the Level III course.
My objective has always been to provide the best services to the children that I work with, so in January 1999, I started working privately in a part-time capacity and by 2002 I was working full time. I continue to research and find the best treatments for all the children that are under my care and connect with specialists all over the world to achieve this. I recently arranged for a world-renowned cortical vision specialist Dr. Christine Roman Lanzy to come to Toronto, to present and help families. I also take the time and interest to attend sessions with therapists and clinics with doctors to fully understand treatments and new ideas and recently flew down to St Louis to meet with Dr. Park, who is performing Selective Dorsal Root Rhizotomy on many of the children that I see. Many parents come to see me from all over the GTA as well as from the US and other countries. Parents have often complained that they had difficulty finding services, so I took it upon herself 2 years ago, to start a web page that lists all the private therapies and various resources in Toronto and around the GTA, for children with special needs, www.privatepediatrictherapy.com, which I continues to update and share in my spare time. My other side interests include being involved with various pediatric charities and organizations supporting children with special needs. I have an open-door policy and have had many therapists, nurses, doctors, high school and university students come in and view my therapy sessions. I am currently working with the University of Toronto Physiotherapy department. I continue to take a course to further my education and remain a well-educated therapist in all of the pediatric rehabilitation and recently completed the Prechtl's General Movement Assessment Course in Chicago. I am looking to begin a research project in pediatrics as there is a great need to look into many areas to further help children get the best and correct treatment. I am an advocate for children with special needs and their families and works hard at trying to make changes in many areas to help these children. I am looking forward to continue to train and mentor new therapists to become better in this field and will continue to travel and teach as many people in as many places as I can reach.
2. What's the best continuing education course/conference you've ever taken (this can be clinical, business, webinar, live)?
The best continuing education course/s that I have taken have to be the Level I, II and III Cuevas MEDEK Exercise courses as they have helped my really understand Motor development and be able to break it down to the finest increments to help the child build upon.
3. What is the book that you’ve gifted most frequently?
My favorite books are those written by Norman Doidge - The Brain that Heals itself and The Brain's Way of Healing, as these books are about the brain's amazing ability to repair neuroplasticity. I have witnessed neuroplasticity in my years as a therapist especially in the young brain.
The Brain That Changes Itself. Using personal stories from the heart of this neuroplasticity revolution, Dr. Doidge explores the profound implications of the changing brain for understanding the mysteries of love, sexual attraction, taste, culture, and education in an immensely moving, inspiring book that will permanently alter the way we look at the human possibility and human nature.
The Brain's Way of Healing. For centuries it was believed that the price we paid for our brain’s complexity was that, compared with other organs, it was fixed and unregenerative—unable to recover mental abilities lost because of damage or disease. This book turns that belief on its head, as Doidge lucidly explains how the brain’s capacities are highly dynamic, and how its very sophistication makes possible a unique and gentle kind of healing. He describes natural, noninvasive avenues into the brain provided by the forms of energy around us—light, sound, vibration, movement—that can pass through our senses and our bodies to awaken the plastic brain’s own transformative capacities without surgery or medication and their unpleasant side effects or risks.
4. What's your favourite blog, podcast or online resource?
My favourite online resource right now is wiredondevelopment.com. It is a site to try and promote and gather international clinical expertise in paediatric therapy. I was interviewed for a podcast that is up on the site.
5. What advice would you give to your 25 year-old self?
I would tell my 25-year-old self to do it all again, but to be more involved in teaching at the universities earlier on. It is very hard as a clinical expert to break through the well-entrenched politics at the university to be able to teach young students a more forward way of thinking at this point.
6. What' something you've recently learned that you're really excited to implement?
I am curious to look into new taping techniques that I have learned.
7. Why did you decide to join the Embodia Instructor community?
I decided to join Embodia to try and reach more therapists by using an online version of teaching.
8. What is one 'aha' moment? What did you learn from this?
I have had many many 'aha' moments and the children that I work with continue to give me new aha moments when I try new ideas and realize from their responses how and why they work. My biggest belief and concept that I would like to share is that there is a hierarchy of techniques that will best help a child reach their potential. This is the same theory that applies to all human beings. For example, if you want to become a gymnast, you can get a massage, do weight lifting with a trainer, or practice gymnastic tricks for hours. All 3 will help, but for the brain to develop the muscle memory and fine balance skills, you actually need to intensely practice the skill. Going for massage for 3 hours a day will not do this, nor will strengthening your muscles in an isolated way, but they will both support the gymnast and will not hinder their ability. You can also choose recreational gymnastics or competitive gymnastics. If a parent chooses recreational gymnastics you cant’ expect a child to reach a certain potential, they will always just have a few skills and not be strong in this area. This is the same in school and learning any skill. So in therapy, there are certain therapies that will help a child develop their motor skill to their best potential because it is targeting that actual area, giving the child strong and intense sensory and motor information for the actual skill that
they are learning. Cuevas MEDEK Exercise is that technique.
9. You are a Certified Cuevas MEDEK therapist. How has this affected your practice?
Cuevas MEDEK Exercise has shaped me as a therapist in my handling and in my detailed understanding of development. When I am working with a child who has no motor control I know how to help them develop piece by piece their motor system and gross motor abilities. I can feel in my hands their developing ability to find alignment and stability as well as the ability to gradually dissociate their movements once they have that strong central core control.
10. What is one thing that has led to your success?
The one thing that has led me to my success is believing in the child’s ability to achieve potentials that no one else believes would be possible. Intensive therapy is the only way to allow this to occur. Intensive means frequency of treatment, the repetition of exercise within a treatment session and the strength of each exercise. Cuevas MEDEK Exercise provides all 3 elements.
Physiotherapist, Level III Cuevas MEDEK Practitioner
Jo-Anne Weltman graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1991 with a Bachelors of Science in Physiotherapy. She spent 2 years working in the general hospital in Johannesburg, rotating through all the paediatric wards. She then completed her California Physical Therapy Licensing exam and was fortunate enough to work in a hospital in San Diego, learning about Sensory Integration Therapy. Jo-Anne then spent 2 years working in a school for children with Cerebral palsy in Aukland New Zealand, before coming to live in Toronto Canada in January 1997. She completed her Physiotherapy National Exam and started working for Early Intervention Services of York Region, working with a variety of children with Special Needs.
Jo-Anne is looking forwards to continue to mentor and train/teach new therapists to become stronger in this field and will carry on traveling and teaching as many people in as many places to help children all over the world.