Physical therapy helps St. Jude patients regain lives
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital doesn’t just focus on saving a child’s life. They also want to make sure each child leaves the hospital with the highest quality of life possible.
Sherry Lockett is an in-patient physical therapist who works with children to overcome physical hurdles after a cancer diagnosis or treatment.
“During all of their treatments, they tend to become kind of unable to perform activities that they would usually do as a child: playing on a playground, running, jumping, skipping, pretend activities. They’re stuck with this diagnosis,” said Lockett.
“They usually don’t feel good and the usually are in a very hard place, because not only are they dealing with what their diagnosis is, but other sickness on top of it.”
Lockett’s goal is to help the kids be kids.
“We get to come in and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to let you be a child for 30-45 minutes and we’re going to play games. And we’re going to forget about all this other stuff, and we’re just going to be a child,’” said Lockett.
But sometimes it may not seem that way at first. Lockett and other physical therapists work to build trust with the patients and their families, so they realize they’re all on the same team.
“Some people might think I’m the bad guy, because I’m the one that has to walk in and tell kids they have to get up,” said Lockett. “But in actuality, I think that after a while the children really come to know that we are the good guys and they come to enjoy our visits to the room.”
Lockett uses play and other children’s activities tailored to each patient’s individual needs to help them build strength and endurance. Her approach and the time she works with them varies from patient to patient.
“Some patients will stay in-patient from a week to six months. It really just depends on what is going on with them, how medically challenged they are, what they’re in-patient for, their diagnosis,” said Lockett.
A graduate of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Lockett worked with adults at Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation in Chattanooga before moving to Memphis. She said working at St. Jude has touched her life.
“The children are amazing. They teach you way more than you could ever teach them walking into a room about life and strength and perseverance through the things that they’re going through.”
Lockett is passionate about enabling the children under her care to resume their normal lives when they leave the hospital.
“The first priority here is to save their life, but if we save the children’s lives and then they go home completely disabled, what have we accomplished?”
Donations to St. Jude through fundraisers like the Dream Home help the hospital achieve those goals.
“I just thank everyone for their support to be able to provide these services for the children so they can have a good quality of life,” said Lockett.
In Tennessee, tickets are available online, by phone at 1-800-750-6962 or at Regions Bank locations in Tennessee. Georgia residents can purchase tickets by phone or at a Regions Bank location in Tennessee.
Each ticket costs $100. A limited number of tickets are available and more than half of them have been sold. The past two giveaways have sold out early.
The St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway is one of the largest single-event fundraisers for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. It generates more than $290 million for the research and treatment of childhood cancer.