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Meet Physiotherapist Aoife Hyland

Q. How long have you been working at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and what is it that you do?

A. I have been working at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick for almost two years. I am the Children’s Intensive Care Physiotherapist and the Respiratory Physiotherapy Team Leader. I also co-ordinate our after-hours physiotherapy service who provide 24/7 cover to the Hospital. I treat children of all ages at a critical stage in their medical journey.

Families play a pivotal role in patient outcomes in the Intensive Care Unit. I really enjoy collaborating with parents and families to enable them to be a part of their child’s recovery.

Q. Why did you want to be a Physiotherapist?

A. I am happiest when I am helping people. On top of this, I love working with children and their families. Physiotherapy intervention in early childhood can positively affect a child’s respiratory function, quality of life or development for the rest of their lives. An opportunity to work in an amazing children’s hospital where I can help very sick children and their families every day is my dream come true!

Q. How does your work make a difference to children and families at the Hospital?

A. The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) cares for the most critically ill children, from kids with serious infections right through to those who have suffered a traumatic accident. An admission there can be a very difficult and anxious time for both the patients and their families. As part of a multi-disciplinary team, I work to get children on the road to recovery. Particularly during the winter months, I treat patients who have respiratory issues or chest infections. I carry out chest physiotherapy to clear their lungs and help them wean from ventilators and oxygen support. For patients who have been in accidents, had a bleed on their brain or had a spinal cord injury, I commence early rehabilitation as soon as they’re stable enough, giving them a head start on their recovery journey.

I also work a lot with babies to prevent any long-term or negative impact to their development, which could occur as a result of their condition. This ties in to neurodevelopmental care, which is another area that I am very passionate about. I am currently working on a project to encourage usual baby-friendly practices to occur in between medical procedures. Although babies in the ICU are very sick, the opportunity to have something like a skin-to-skin cuddle with a parent positively influences their long-term outcomes.

Q. What’s your favourite part of your role?

A. I love many aspects of my role, however my favourite part is following the patient journey from admission to discharge. It’s incredible to see their progress and recovery after initially meeting them at a very difficult time. It’s especially rewarding celebrating a big milestone. For example, the first time we get a brain injury patient out of bed and standing up using a frame. It’s so emotional for the family, the patient and the staff as we become so invested in caring for these children. I feel so lucky to be a part of such significant moments, as I understand how much it means for them.

Q. How do donations help children and families who are supported by the Physiotherapy Team?

A. Donations to the physiotherapy team have huge impact on the patient journey. One example of this was the donation of an amazing supine bike, which has opened up a whole new level of possibility in the ICU. We can now allow the sickest children, who are too unstable to get out of bed or in a coma, to exercise their arms and legs. This gives them the chance to start rehabilitation early enough to prevent secondary complications of an ICU admission such as muscle weakness. It even has the ability to reduce days on a ventilator!

Amazing achievements like this would not be possible without generous donations.

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Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation raises funds for Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick , The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Bear Cottage, the Newborn and Paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS NSW) and Kids Research