Physiotherapy for Infants, Children and Adolescents

What is Physiotherapy? Physiotherapy from infancy to adulthood (0-18 years of age) optimises a child’s physical development and functional performance. Physiotherapy is relevant throughout the various stages of development. Physiotherapy for infants, children and adolescents is a complex area of therapy based on medical and scientific evidence. Education is shared with the child, family, school & other health professionals involved in care. Physiotherapy interventions aim to promote musculo-skeletal and neuro-developmental outcomes, improve function and minimise impairments.

How Can Physiotherapy Help? The physiotherapist assesses the child to determine musculo-skeletal status, neurological development, functional capabilities and/or limitations and treatment goals. Physiotherapy interventions can address:

  • Developmental delay in achieving motor milestones in the first year of life (rolling, sitting, crawling, standing, walking)
  • Retained primitive reflexes which can affect gross and fine motor skill development, balance co-ordination and integration of sensory input.
  • Retained primitive reflexes prevent development of succeeding postural reflexes.
  • Developmental Co-ordination Deficit where children have achieved most age-appropriate skills but have poor balance and co-ordination.
  • Increased or decreased muscle tone affecting movement that causes stiffness or floppiness in neurological disorders (Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, other metabolic/chromosomal syndromes).
  • Reduced core stability causing poor posture and balance
  • Sensory Processing Disorder caused by poor management of information from the senses in the brain. This includes smell, sight, touch, taste and sound information as well as vestibular and proprioceptive information. The vestibular system provides information about the movement of the body through space and the proprioceptive systems relays information about the position of the body in space.
  • Torticollis (head rotated to one side) and positional plagiocephaly (flattened area on the head)
  • Postural or structural foot problems (feet turned in/out, flat feet, Club Foot)
  • Gait deviations (legs internally or externally rotated, toe-walking)
  • Joint hypermobility
  • Orthopaedic conditions such as tight muscles or stiff joints or pain related to Severs Disease or Osgood-Schlatter Disease due to rapid growth spurts.
  • Rehabilitation following surgery, injuries or fracture.

                                                                                                    – by Author

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