Like all Better Rehab Exercise Physiologists, Senior Exercise Physiologist and Team Leader, Brooke Eather, from our Maroubra office, knows how to incorporate the activities her participants enjoy most into their therapy programs to keep them engaged and motivated.
So when Brooke learnt that participant Elise, who has Down syndrome, enjoys kicking the soccer ball around with her family, she decided to build soccer into her sessions. “Elise’s personal goal was to improve her balance, strength and cardiovascular fitness. Soccer is a fun warm-up game, and it most definitely helps to improve cardiovascular endurance, coordination and balance skills,” says Brooke.
Brooke also incorporated other balance and coordination exercises and general gross motor skills into Elise’s program. “I always make it fun and engaging to try and increase Elise’s strength and cardiovascular fitness,” explains Brooke.
Kicking goals to achieve personal goals
With Elise’s love of soccer – and her competitive streak! – she was kicking personal goals in no time.
“Since we started her sessions, she has become so much better with kicking the ball alongside working on her balance. We progressed from just some kicking drills in the clinic to having mini games on the Maroubra office balcony where there is more space to set up goals and verse each other,” says Brooke.
Elise didn’t only progress to a bigger ‘field’, the improvements she achieved with her balance has enabled her to combine all the skills she practices in the clinic, including balance and coordination, to work more extensively on cardiovascular fitness on the larger scale games in her sessions.
“Elise’s balance and coordination have improved a lot. She is also now able to navigate stairs much easier, safer and more independently,” says Brooke.
Boosting confidence and social engagement
According to Brooke, incorporating soccer into Elise’s sessions has helped boost her confidence and social engagement. “Elise really enjoys our soccer sessions as it’s a bit of fun competition and is a great confidence booster. She also gets to play with all her siblings in between our sessions as well, which is great for engagement as it’s a fun activity not your typical workout,” explains Brooke.
“I like soccer because it’s fun and I like to kick goals. Working with Brooke is fun. She keeps me fit and healthy and always makes me work hard! She has nice nails and likes to dance!” says Elise.
Making the most of the ‘home ground advantage’
Brooke also found their sessions fun: “I love our sessions together. We always have lots of fun and have music on and dance. She is very cheeky, always makes me work hard with her as well, and tries to win at all costs! I think the total tally for scores is Elise 30 goals to my three goals! Her mum is always cheering her on in our sessions too as her Number 1 fan!” says Brooke.