Do you think your child needs to see a child physiotherapist?
Because it can be difficult to know where to start, we’ve put together the following physiotherapy for children guide. (Please keep reading for more on the most common reasons to see a child physiotherapist.)
Firstly, why not visit a generalist physiotherapist? What’s different about a specialist paediatric physiotherapist?
While they are still developing, babies and children obviously have different needs to adults. They also suffer from different conditions or syndromes such as simple growing pains, common child injuries, issues related to particular illnesses, movement disorders or delayed development.
A child physiotherapist will have extensive experience in dealing with these problems and in working together with families. They are best placed to assess the child using appropriate techniques, such as using play to observe their movements in a relaxed environment that involves parents and guardians.
Paediatric physiotherapists have a specialist understanding of:
- child development
- childhood diseases and conditions that may impact on development and well being
- therapeutic interventions that enable and optimise development and well being
- the need to place the child at the centre of planning
- the impact that having a sick or disabled child has on family life
- how to keep children safe
- how to ensure that children and young people make choices
- how to develop their own skills and practice
- how to develop services in line with Government guidance committed to improving quality and life chances for children
When choosing a paediatric physiotherapist, there are a number of things you should consider:
- Are they specilaised in working with children and paediatric conditions?
- They should be prepared to liaise with an NHS physio when appropriate
- Paediatric physiotherapists are subject to enhanced disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), you are entitled to see evidence of their DBS clearance.
Please visit our physiotherapy for children web page for more.
Physiotherapy for children
The most common reasons to seek the help of a child physiotherapist fall into two main categories - developmental problems in babies and other common issues for children.
Developmental problems in babies including:
Unusual foot or leg positions
Conditions such as positional talipes, in which one or both feet point down and inwards, are caused by soft tissue tightness created by the position of the baby in the womb and can be easily corrected. Similarly, metatarsus adductus causes the front of the baby’s forefoot to turn inward while calcaneal valgus causes the foot to point upwards towards the shin.
Difficulty in turning the neck
Some babies have tightness in their neck muscles, which makes them favour turning their head one way over the other. This is usually as a result of the baby’s position in the womb or damage caused during childbirth. Physiotherapy can help loosen the muscles. In rarer cases, it can be a symptom of other conditions or defects.
Flat head syndrome
Around one in five babies will be affected by a part of their head becoming flattened due to pressure caused by sleeping on their backs or turning their head to one side in particular. It can also be caused by premature birth or problems in the womb. Physiotherapy can often help.
Assessment of baby/childhood milestones
This is the process of mapping a child’s performance compared with children of a similar age from similar population. In otherwords we are looking to identify any concerns, underlying conditions and genetic disorders that could get in the way of your childs development.
Other common issues for children including:
Many children suffer from growing pains, usually experienced as muscle pain in the thighs, calves and behind the knees. While not serious, they can be upsetting for your child. Massage and stretching can help to alleviate the problem. This can also include neck and back pain that often occurs in teenagers.
When joints can move beyond the normal range, this is called hypermobility. It can affect just a few joints in the body but it can also be more widespread. It’s usually mild and can even be a plus for practising sports such as gymnastics. In rare cases, hypermobility can be linked to a more serious underlying condition.
Severs and Osgood Schlatter disease
If your child suffers from knee pain, especially while running or jumping, it’s possible they have Osgood-Schlatter disease. A bony lump beneath the kneecap can cause inflammation and pain that’s often exacerbated by sport. The condition, which is not serious and usually goes away with time, is most common in children aged 10-15 who are going through a growth spurt.
Children with this developmental disorder often appear to move around “clumsily” because it affects their co-ordination. Reaching the expected level in everyday activities such as crawling, walking and feeding themselves might be delayed, but specialist therapies can help families to manage the condition.
Choosing a child physiotherapist
When choosing a paediatric physiotherapist, remember that children are not simply smaller versions of adults!
Your family needs someone who specialises in childhood conditions. At Synergy we have vast experience in the field and can offer expert advice and information regardless of the problem your child is experiencing.
We offer a wide range of treatment options from helping you to encourage development through play or exercises in your own home through to rehabilitation therapies offered on our premises in Woking, Surrey.
Free online consultation with a child physiotherapist
Now we’re offering you a free online consultation with one of our specialists.
To book your free online consultation, please click below.