IPTA Allied Health & Nursing Spotlight:
Paediatric Physiotherapy

Catherine Patterson
Paediatric Physiotherapist

The Hospital for Sick Children
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

1. What does your routine day look like?

To be honest, “routine’ is not a word that describes my day very well. My role as a paediatric physiotherapist is quite dynamic and varied. Each day I can be involved in a variety of activities in an acute inpatient or out-patient setting. I provide evidence-based interventions that range from exercises to promote children's mobility, strength, and motor skills to educating parents on the importance of physical activity for overall health and functioning.

Working within the SickKids Transplant and Regenerative Medicine Centre adds an extra layer of complexity to my job, as I provide rehabilitation for children who may be awaiting transplants or recovering from transplant surgery. My focus is on helping these children develop motor skills, strength, and activity tolerance to support them in a successful transition back to home and school life.

2. What are you most proud of?

In my profession I am most proud of my opportunity to help children physically rehabilitate.

It is incredibly rewarding to witness their recovery and watch them achieve their activity goals such as skiing, participating in swim meets, and even triathlons! These accomplishments not only reflect their physical progress but also their resilience and determination.

I also feel privileged to have been part of a group of researchers that recently published a position statement on exercise for solid organ transplant candidates and recipients. This research helps our colleagues in the field of pediatric transplantation provide an evidence-informed approach to supporting physical activity and fitness in children with a solid organ transplant.

3. Are there any challenges in your role?

I feel lucky to work in the field of transplantation. The leadership and teams at my hospital are supportive and inclusive. However, a challenge within the publicly funded framework where I practice is the ongoing need to build the capacity of allied health professionals to engage in research.  Protected time to allow physiotherapists and other allied health professionals to pursue their research interests is still lacking. On a positive note, my colleagues at IPTA have shared their expertise and mentored my research interests and are a great resource for clinicians who want to expand their non-clinical activity involvement in the field of transplantation.

4. What would you tell others who are interested in pursuing this career?

According to several career surveys, physiotherapists are considered to have one of the happiest jobs in the world. It is amazing to have the opportunity to build relationships with families throughout their transplant journey. As a physiotherapist, supporting children as they navigate the recovery process after transplant and helping them reach their full physical potential is incredibly rewarding.  Additionally, my role also provides me with the opportunity to collaborate with a wonderful team of allied health, nursing and medical professionals with very specialized expertise and a common goal.  

5. How does an IPTA membership enrich your career?

Being part of a professional community like IPTA has numerous benefits and has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to learn from and collaborate with other transplant professionals. Attending the scientific meeting allows me to present my research and provides a platform for networking and knowledge exchange with other professionals who share my interests in functional outcomes in pediatric transplantation. These interactions have led to collaborations, new insights, and a broader understanding of the field.

Another valuable experience has been volunteering on the Allied Health and Nursing Committee. This committee's work contributes to the development of educational and research opportunities for professionals involved in pediatric transplantation while providing mentorship and support from a range of very engaged and experienced transplant professionals.



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