Meet Hannah Shem-Tov — mother of two, lover of house plants and outdoor family adventures, and a caregiver to kids through outpatient physical therapy at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital.
In her 12 years of experience, she has served as lead PT in the hospital’s outpatient Brain Injury Clinic since its start almost 10 years ago and is now lead coordinator for the “Return to You” rehabilitation outpatient program.
Among her career goals is extending the use of dry needling as a modality in the pediatric population for diagnoses that include abnormal posture, traumatic injury, chronic pain and scar tissue. This also aligns with her participation in Mt. Washington’s pain management initiative, where the hospital’s facility dog, Gaston, and Jennifer Langezaal accompany her in treatment sessions.
At home, Shem-Tov’s focus is on her almost 100 house plants and, of course, her family. “One of my life goals is to travel with my family as much as possible!” she says.
The Ellicott City native now lives in Towson with her partner, Becky; sons Sam (8) and Gabe (6) — who attend Beth Tfiloh Dahan day school — and their dogs, Bluey and Tucker.
Family dog Bella lives with the boys’ father nearby.
What drew you to physical therapy and working with children?
I have always wanted to work with children, and my interest in physical therapy was solidified when I had a senior high school internship in a pediatric physical-therapy setting. A child’s ability to make progress, heal and overcome obstacles is amazing and inspiring to watch. I’m so lucky to be a part of that.
Has your expertise influenced how you handle common injuries for your own boys?
It can definitely be useful to have background information to inform how I can help the boys. On the other hand, I also know the potential complications, which can make me more nervous! In the end, if either of my children needs physical therapy, I have a lot of excellent choices in my colleagues, and I’m going to just stay Mom.
How do you balance career and family life, and what makes it easier?
I think that’s an ongoing struggle for all mothers. I want to be present for all of the boys’ important moments — to be able to stay with them when they are sick, take them traveling and make sure they know I am always there for them. On the other hand, I am passionate about my career and the difference that I can make in children’s lives, and think that is also a great thing for my boys to see. I am very lucky that our rehab director prioritizes our family life and allows us to be flexible with our schedule. That makes a world of difference.
What are some of the things your family enjoys doing together?
We love going camping, and often go with my sister and her family, bring kayaks and SUPs (stand-up paddle boarding and backpacking) and let all the boys (my sister has two boys just about the same ages) run wild. At home, we like playing games as a family and have a pretty decent-sized collection going. As the boys get older, the games are definitely getting more entertaining to play with them.
What do you hope your children learn from your life or career?
I hope that they learn to find what they are passionate about doing and the importance of helping other people.