Aspen hospital adds full-time pediatric physical therapist

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Once a seasonal employee, Kimber Kurr recently joined Aspen Valley Hospital as its first full-time pediatric physical therapist.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times |

Going to the doctor or physical therapist, especially when you’re a kid, isn’t exactly a prescription for fun.

But Kimber Kurr tries to make her physical therapy sessions with children more enjoyable than a needle in the arm.

“With kids, you make it into a game,” she said. “So we’ll do this exercise and we’ll play this game. It’s a balancing act, but I think the big key is making it fun where they want to participate.”

Adults in physical therapy aren’t likely to hear of exercises called “bunny hops” or “bear crawls.” But for the young and the injured, these regiments are one way Kurr engages her patients.

“You have to make it more fun for them,” she said.

Kurr recently became a full-time pediatric physical therapist at Aspen Valley Hospital after working three winters on a part-time basis. Her patients range from newborns to 18-year-olds.

Recognizing the demand for a pediatric physical therapist, the hospital made Kurr full time in September. Kurr, who has a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions in Boston, previously worked at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Boston Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Kurr said her patients’ injuries tend to be different from adults’.

“It’s because they’re still growing,” she said. “Their injuries can be a little different, so it’s good to have a pediatric specialist.”

Kurr said she sees a number of to-be-expected wintertime injuries with hockey players and skiers. Spring brings in the soccer and lacrosse patients. She also deals with concussion patients who have such symptoms as deficits in vision or an unstable balance system.

“The testing takes more than one visit to go through and identify what’s wrong,” she said of concussions.

Newborns also can receive treatment in instances of having a neck stretched, a broken clavicle, a flat spot on their head or nerve damage suffered during birth.

“A lot of working with infants involves working with the parents,” she said. “It’s a lot of education for the families.”

Early physical therapy also can benefit patients when they get older, Kurr said. Some of her patients might receive school-based physical therapy.

“School-based services are restricted to academic-based goals,” she said. “Outpatient services can focus on nonacademic goals like balance, walking and age-appropriate mobility.”

Kurr said treating children comes naturally to her.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with children,” she said. “When I went to PT school, I was always drawn back to working with them.”