Physiotherapy in adolescent mental health and the Mildred Creak Unit

Mildred Creak Unit (MCU) is a 10-bed inpatient unit admitting children from 7-14 years of age with a range of mental health problems, such as eating disorders and other emotional and behavioural disorders. 

A specialist physiotherapist works within a multidisciplinary team of child and adolescent psychiatrists, nurses, therapeutic care workers, teachers, family therapists, child and adolescent psychotherapists, a clinical psychologist, a social worker and a dietitian.

What conditions do physiotherapists see on the unit?

Not all children or young people admitted to the MCU will be seen by a physiotherapist. The conditions commonly requiring physiotherapy are:

What does the physiotherapist do and how will it help?

Our specialist physiotherapist provides musculoskeletal and mobility assessments for the children and young people on the MCU who present with physical symptoms and difficulties. Difficulties may include the inability to walk independently, painful immobile joints, poor balance or muscle weakness.

Physiotherapy in this group of patients helps to regain independence, reduce pain, improve strength and facilitate the return to normal activity levels.

Once assessed, a specific exercise and rehabilitation plan will be devised for each individual. The physiotherapist will use a graded and goal-setting treatment approach, where physical goals are jointly decided with the young people involved. Goals are shared with other MCU staff members to promote a holistic approach, and children/young people are often provided with exercise programmes to work on outside of therapy sessions.

Physiotherapy sessions are scheduled according to the MCU timetable and intensity varies depending on the individual’s needs.

What sort of things might physiotherapy involve?

Physiotherapy on the MCU may involve:

  • gym sessions – both individual or in a group setting

  • hydrotherapy (exercises in water)

  • stretching and strengthening exercise programmes

  • cardiovascular fitness programmes

  • provision of walking aids – walking frame or crutches

  • gait re-education (improving your walking pattern)

  • pain management

In addition the physiotherapist will liaise with existing local physiotherapy services, provide specialist advice, and make onward referrals when appropriate.