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Interview With Fairytale Physical Therapy Founders

May 3, 2017

We at FitBUX are constantly amazed by the creativeness and “outside-the-box” thinking that we see on a daily basis from SPTs and Fresh PTs.  Today we interviewed two of those students, Jenna Kantor and Katie Schmitt from Columbia University.  They are the founders of Fairytale Physical Therapy.  The goal of Fairytale Physical Therapy is to bring the joy of movement and song to children who are currently in the kingdom of the ill and it is one of the most creative ideas we have seen….

FitPT: This is such a great concept! Can you go dive into more detail on how the two of you came up with the idea of incorporating therapeutic exercise into the dance portion for the pediatric patients?

Jenna and Katie: First off, thank you so much for helping us get the word out about Fairytale PT! Both of us were actors before going to DPT school and we wanted to combine our passion for theatre with physical therapy. The choreography ends up being the solution. Making the choreography out of therapeutic exercises made it healthy for the children and easier for PT students to demonstrate and perform. After all, we are being taught how to properly demonstrate and teach therapeutic exercises while we are in school.

FitPT: Why did you choose to do Frozen?  Will you add other productions to your repertoire? If so, which ones and why?

Jenna and Katie: We started with The Frozen Show because it is currently the most popular show for children. They know the songs, relate with the characters, and are familiar with the story. We have already added more shows to our repertoire, choreographing and performing: The Lion King Show and The Little Mermaid Show. In the fall, we will be bringing in The Aladdin Show and Beauty & The Beast Show.

FitPT: How do you envision other PT schools adapting your program to share with their local hospital?  What if no one in their PT class has an acting or dance or singing background – How would they start?

Jenna and Katie: The Columbia University DPT Program will remain the hub for any changes and new show additions. Currently, we have everything each school needs on a shared google drive (i.e. “how to” manual, scripts, music, etc). Each school would need to get costumes and connect with a nearby hospital to put on regular shows for the kids. If people are not confident singing on their own, the shows can be tailored so that the entire cast sings and, the kids are always invited to sing along.

FitPT: Where do you envision FTPT growing into when you graduate PT school?

Jenna and Katie: We would like FTPT to continue being spread to other schools and hospitals throughout the world. At CUMC we have second years and first years interested in and heading their class for FTPT. Also, we want to foster research to eventually learn the best way to get the children to do the choreography (therapeutic exercise) at home enhancing overall quality of life through physical therapy, dance and music. We have submitted our first study and are pending approval at the moment. The study is a retrospective cross-sectional qualitative study on how the show affects both the caregivers’ and childrens’ moods while in the hospital. We think that this is such an easy way to bring joy and movement to kids and their families, giving them a break from hospital life.

FitPT: Where can students from other school go to learn more about what you do and how you do it?

Jenna and Katie: We have a website (http://fairytalephysicalt. wixsite.com/fairytale) and a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ fairytalephysicaltherapy/).

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