Paediatric physiotherapists work with babies, children, and young people to develop their gross motor skills (such as walking, jumping, etc.), aiming to promote independence and help children and young people participate and enjoy life.
A Physiotherapist has an understanding of:
- child development
- normal and abnormal movement patterns
- how movement skills develop
- childhood diseases and conditions that may impact on
- development and well being
- therapeutic interventions that enable and optimize development and well being
- the need to place the child or young person at the centre of planning
- how to keep children and young people safe
- how to ensure that children and young people make choices
physiotherapists work closely with each child or young person and their family, education, social care and other health care professionals. There is a shared responsibility for meeting children’s and young people’s needs.
Physiotherapists work in hospitals, clinics, nurseries, schools, family homes and any other locations depending on the needs of the child or young person.
Why Do Kids Need Physiotherapy?
Most people generally know what physios might do for adults – help people with movement difficulties. But not many people understand what a physio might do for a baby or child.
Children are not just mini-adults. Pediatric physiotherapists are experts in child development, particularly in movement development.
Movement is an essential aspect of development for babies and children. Movement allows babies and children to explore their bodies and how they work, their environment and everything in their world – being able to move quickly and successfully is essential for learning and growing.
Pediatric physiotherapists have expert skills in assessing, identifying, diagnosing, and treating child development and movement difficulties.
How Can Physiotherapy Help your Child?
A Paediatric Physiotherapist offers early intervention for children with neurological and developmental delays and sensory impairments related to hearing and vision.
Physiotherapy also helps children with biomechanical, positional and sports injuries. Some children may present with multiple issues that can be helped by seeing a Paediatric Physiotherapist.
Some examples of common concerns that parents may have to include:
- Premature babies (<36 weeks gestational age) or low birth weight babies (<1500g)
- Newborn babies have difficulty turning their heads
- Newborn babies not tolerating tummy time
- Babies having flat spots on the back or side of their heads, especially after seven weeks old
- Babies who have difficulty with rolling, sitting, crawling and walking
- Toddlers with pigeon toes, bow legs, in-rolling ankles, and knock knees.
- Children who have problems with coordination, balance, walking and running
- Frequent falls, poor balance and coordination
- Children and teenagers who have any sports-related injuries
- Children with poor post
Types of Paediatric Physiotherapy
There are several types of pediatric physiotherapy. These include:
- Neurological Paediatric Physiotherapy
- Respiratory Paediatric Physiotherapy
- Developmental Physiotherapy
- Learning Difficulties Physiotherapy
- Musculoskeletal Paediatric Physiotherapy
Benefits of Physiotherapy for Kids
Paediatric physiotherapists have expert skills in assessing, identifying, diagnosing, and treating child development and movement difficulties. Pediatric physiotherapists have highly developed hands-on skills.
The treatment programs aim to optimize each child’s health, well-being, and abilities to enable them to move and participate in everyday activities, like playing, learning, going to school, and being part of a family and community. Children with developmental problems may have difficulty reaching developmental milestones by the expected time or age.
Developmental milestones are tasks most children learn or develop that commonly appear in specific age ranges. For example, head control, rolling, crawling, walking and talking. Physiotherapy treatment for children with neurological or developmental
problems will help to maximize their potential and promote physical development to reach specific milestones (e.g. rolling, crawling and walking).
The types of movement disorders or movement difficulties Pediatric physiotherapists can help with vary greatly but can include:
- Babies and children who are slower to achieve their motor milestones, e.g., babies who are late to learn to sit, crawl or walk
- Babies and children who are using unusual patterns to move, e.g., w-sitting or bottom shuffling or toe walking
- Children who are having difficulty with motor skills, such as jumping/hopping or ball skills
- Toddlers and babies who are clumsy or uncoordinated
- Children following an injury or trauma who require rehabilitation to get back to their best
- Children with Ruminationure or children who complain of frequent muscular pain
What conditions can paediatric physiotherapy assist with?
Conditions that Paediatric Physiotherapists typically manage include:
- Plagiocephaly: development of a flat spot on a baby’s head
- Torticollis: when a baby only turns their head in one direction
- Developmental delay: slow development of normal milestones, which may include; not sitting independently by nine months, not crawling or standing by 12 months or not walking by 18 months of age
- Adolescent injuries and conditions: such as Sever’s (heel pain), Osgood Schlatter’s (knee pain), Scheuermann’s, developmental hip conditions such as dysplasia, back pain, “growing pains,” recovery after fracture, acute injuries such as ligament sprains or muscle strains.
- Adolescent motor development: difficulty keeping up with other children their age, reduced fitness or motor skills.