Young occupational therapist does not fear challenges: ”A child’s sincere smile is the greatest reward”

Beloved by her little patients and warmly accepted by their parents Gina Šegždaitė knew that she wanted to study occupational therapy because she had a clear purpose – to help children. Having completed her Health and Rehabilitation studies at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences – the specialist is the best friend to the children and a sincere adviser to their parents.

14074.jpg (376x240, 359x240)Fateful summer

        Occupational therapist Gina Šegždaitė chose to study Children’s Rehabilitation at LSMU with certainty. Young woman had a strong feeling that occupational therapy – is the field where she would be able to help others the most as well as discover her own potential. “After graduating school, I sought studies closely related to humans, their bodies, biology and psychology. From the first study years, I knew that occupational therapy would be an interesting subject. LSMU helped me evolve as an individual. The University has given me the feeling of openness”- the interviewee reveals that the feeling of openness is her frequent companion in practice and at work with children. Gina Šegždaitė smiles that during her studies she had her doubts just like any other student. But Gina chased those doubts away. “I remember that I was in my 3rd study year. After a few traineeships, I chose an additional one at LSMU Kaunas Clinics Children's Rehabilitation Hospital - Lopšelis. It was here during that fateful summer, that I became certain that I had chosen the right path and that so many children need my help. From that moment on there wasn’t a single doubt about an alternative to studying Children’s rehabilitation. Now here at the Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital Lopšelis, I am a member of a wonderful team which I’ve joined as soon as I completed my studies,” – the young occupational therapist recalled the fateful summer.

“At LSMU I’ve learned to not be afraid to ask questions and be curious. Valuable studies at LSMU allowed me to achieve great results in my crucial work with children. For example, LSMU Occupational Therapy study programme is the only such programme in Lithuania. It is accredited by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT)”

pristatymas_apie_specialybes_moksleiviams.jpeg (376x240, 330x240)Teamwork

         Gina Šegždaitė is certain that the occupational therapist’s work with children is particularly crucial and demands great attention to detail. Specialists have to adapt to the individual needs of each little patient, employ curiosity and creativity, not forget empathy, be able to work in a team, and ground their work on science-based practices. “At the Children's Rehabilitation Hospital Lopšelis – everyone of us – doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, logotherapists, psychologists, or art therapists – we all see the child in a different context. Such different viewpoints help achieve the most effective results. If we want to help the child and their family – teamwork is essential,”. In Gina’s opinion, an occupational therapist is an important part of the team – who evaluates motor, sensory skills and the entirety of the child’s independence.

Young woman refers to – the path to her patients’ hearts – as the greatest challenge. And she manages to get there. She also feels great trust from the children’s parents. Through various developmental and therapeutical games, the child partakes in activities, becomes more independent.

“In children’s occupational therapists work it is particularly important to highlight the relationship between the children and their parents and show the parents how they can help their child independently and draw them into various activities. Responsibly and with great effort we seek the most suitable ways to help the child,” – the occupational therapist consults all parents and helps them answer the most varied questions related to child development.

The occupational therapist refers to contemporary parents as particularly modern, responsible, and interested in everything, seeking ways to help their children best. “Parents trust me. They constantly ask me about the most up-to-date treatments, about practice grounded in science. It is very important for me, as an occupational therapist, to create a sincere bond with the little patient”. Sometimes at first, some parents are quite contrary, however, upon encountering the dedicated therapist the distrust and suspicion vanish.

 It’s very important during occupational therapy to rejoice with each dropped building block or a ball that has been pushed. That is how feedback is built. “It is very important for the children themselves to feel that they are being taken care of, as well as what they are playing, what they are doing. Only by allowing myself to be drawn into the child’s play and by being open – I can create a strong mutual bond. Thus, I end up being on the same level as the little patient.” Gina is certain that successful occupational therapy can only be created through play.

The university that helps the individual evolve

Gina Šegždaitė received great support from the academic staff at the LSMU Faculty of Nursing. She felt like home at the university and experienced no stress or tension. “At LSMU I’ve learned to not be afraid to ask questions and be curious. The experienced staff at the Faculty of Nursing allowed me to grow. I was one of the most active students, I communicated with the lecturers, wasn’t afraid to ask questions and would confidently participate in the discussions. The valuable studies at LSMU allowed me to achieve great results in my crucial work with children. For example, LSMU Occupational Therapy study programme is the only such programme in Lithuania. It is accredited by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT),” The alumna had plenty of praise for her meaningful time at her Alma Mater – LSMU.

Gina, with the help of the University, was able to discover herself and to seek greater achievements. LSMU implements practices grounded in science, innovation, a youthful attitude which has helped develop many future specialists who have achieved great results.

Knowledge acquired at LSMU along with the lecturers’ support allows the occupational therapist to fulfill her ideas and to never abandon them. This is how Gina came up with the idea to manufacture educational toys from recycled materials. Such easily made toys immediately made their way into her patient’s hearts: “You can’t always find the educational toys you need. Therefore, I began making them myself. Children find the mass-produced, plastic, colorful, or vibrant toys far less appealing than the handmade ones. In the future I would love to run group toy workshops, draw children into the fun process and show the parents how simply and without great effort it is possible to create an educational toy for their child.” The occupational therapist uses her handmade toys in her therapy work. A toy or a game develops fine motor skills, a child is able to get involved in daily tasks; these toys encourage independence.

All of the attention – for the children

joga.jpg (zoomed, 518x518)Gina Šegždaitė’s thoughts most of the time revolve around the children and their parents. “When children smile I can feel their live emotions; when children allow me to enter their world - it’s a small victory for me. Step by step together with parents, this is exactly how I can help the child improve their life.” Every moment at work is crucial for her to create a sincere and open relationship based on trust with the children and their families.

Gina has no doubt: the occupational therapist’s work is teamwork. Shared victories are achieved at work which in turn bring results. Parents upon seeing the obvious benefits of physiotherapy upon carefully listening to the recommendations, often return to find out how they can help their child more.

She has noticed that during the quarantine she can achieve so much more. “Parents can reach out to the occupational therapist any time, not only when they notice some developmental issues. Even if they have doubts on how to spend their time with their child in a more interesting and meaningful way, to develop their skills, they are all welcome at the occupational therapist’s office”.

Full of ideas

The young occupational therapist keeps close relationship with the children- her young patients- in her practice. She follows the development of their treatment and what they have achieved. “Each and every child is very important and dear to me. I feel a strong bond with each of them and it allows us to grow and improve further together. I am always curious how these children are doing and what they have achieved later on. I want to be happy with their parents, to share emotions and achievements”. The occupational therapist remembers every single patient and recognizes them in the streets.

Today, Gina Šegždaitė works not only with parents and their children but also is involved in educational activities as well. “For a long time, I had this idea on how to present occupational therapy to parents in an appealing way and show how the specialist can help their child. I’ve decided to get involved in educational activities and to introduce the occupational therapist’s work to all.” She feels great joy when she is able to teach and advise. Her webinars, posts on social media – Instagram and Facebook – receive a lot of attention.

New activities and pursuits await the occupational therapist. “Most ideas “live” inside my head, just sometimes I’m a little short of time to accomplish them all. Step by step the children and me are improving ourselves because all the crucial work is rewarded by the child’s smile. That is the greatest evaluation for me,” – the young occupational therapist, Gina Šegždaitė, spoke with her heart wide open.
Source: (in Lithuanian)