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7 Conditions Treated by a Paediatric Physiotherapist

7 Conditions Treated by a Paediatric Physiotherapist

Have you ever wondered exactly what a paediatric physiotherapist treats?  Maybe you’ve thought to yourself why would a child even need physiotherapy?  And why not just see a regular physiotherapist?

Well, there are many conditions that require children to seek the help of a qualified physiotherapist.  Your child may have been born with a neurological condition such as CP, or born with torticollis.  Or maybe your rising superstar athlete injured themself showing off their talent! Maybe it is your future writer’s poor postural habits.  Have you noticed that your little one is just a bit “floppy” or uncoordinated? Has the toe walking you were told your child would outgrow stuck around? These are all examples of some of the conditions that paediatric physiotherapists treat! Your paediatric physiotherapist has the added benefit of important knowledge relating to your child’s development.  With their unique skills and knowledge, they are able to treat many conditions. In this post, we will be talking about these conditions and why it is important to see a paediatric physiotherapist.

Cerebral Palsy or Other Movement Disorders

You may not have heard this, but early physiotherapy intervention for children diagnosed with a neurological condition movement disorder has been shown to improve function in young children.

Early intervention by a qualified paediatric physiotherapist can help your child learn the movement skills needed early on to help their development.  I have treated children as young as 2 weeks old.  Paediatric physiotherapists can pick up on movement impairments early on. Identifying gross motor delays early on allows for early diagnosis of many conditions such as cerebral palsy. I often have parents tell me they wish they knew that their child could have been seen early on.  Paediatric physiotherapists are great at monitoring gross motor skill development to ensure that your child is meeting all their developmental milestones. For children with neurological conditions, including cerebral palsy, early intervention has a big impact. It is never too early for intervention!

Physiotherapy Can Help

  • Reduce or help to manage spasticity
  • Improve strength and endurance
  • Assist in development of gross motor skills
  • Assist with equipment needs and recommendations
  • Improve motor control
  • Assess and help refine gait
  • Improve functional independence
Utilizing muscle strengthening to provide functional indolence to child with Cerebral Palsy
Early intervention to strengthen main muscle groups to encourage and promote independence
Paediatric Physiotherapists providing early intervention through specialized muscle strengthening.
Specific muscle targeting for increasing strength and functional independence

 

Torticollis is a condition when your child presents with shortened neck muscles, causing your child to favour looking and preferring neck movement in one direction.  This can have profound effects on skull development and if left untreated can cause facial asymmetries, skull deformities, and delays in gross motor development.  Early intervention by a paediatric physiotherapist can greatly help to prevent all of the above.  Just recently, I have seen 3 newborns with torticollis all referred to me within 2 weeks of birth.  They are doing great and their range of movement has improved significantly.  In addition to teaching the parents how to manage at home, I have also been monitoring their children’s development to ensure that they are all reaching their gross motor milestones and making sure their facial features and skull are developing symmetrically.  Again, early intervention is extremely important here.

Physiotherapy Can Help:

  • Restore flexibility and strength of the neck
  • Prevent skull and facial deformity
  • Optimize positioning for play
  • Ensuring gross motor skills are developing appropriately
The three main aspects of congenital torticollis paediatric physiotherapists correct - Head tilted toward the affected side, chin pointing away from the contracted muscle, and contracted SCM muscle.
The 3 main aspects of the appearance of Torticollis
Infant with head tilted to the left side
Torticollis presentation

Sport Injuries & Orthopedic Conditions

Maybe it was a fall off a bike, or diving into first base, or maybe it was a bad check into the boards- don’t worry, we have your child covered.  Paediatric physiotherapists are well trained in how to treat your developing child’s musculoskeletal injuries. We are able to assess your child’s physical injuries and use age-appropriate interventions to ensure a safe return to sports or other activities.  I recently had a parent tell me that their child was seen by their physiotherapist but never had the same success.  The mom then sought me out and her child improved significantly.  This was because I was able to address their limitations while ensuring their developmental needs were met.

Physiotherapy Can Help:

  • Clinically diagnose any orthopaedic or sports injury
  • Improve sport-specific skills
  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Improve flexibility and strength

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Posture

Does your child look like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders?  Or maybe they have taken a liking to imitating the Hunchback of Notre Dame! These past few months of COVID quarantine have taken a toll on all our bodies including our children.  Well no worries, paediatric physiotherapists are here to help. With a keen eye, we can address key areas to help improve your child’s posture and alignment!

Physiotherapy Can Help:

  • Optimize breathing, alignment, and core (They are all related!)
  • Educate on positioning of computers/ devices to optimize posture
  • Provide information on available products to help improve posture
Child sitting on bench with rounded back, hunched shoulders, and poor posture holding a small tablet
Poor Posture in children
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The impact a Theratog has on posture

Floppy or Low Tone

So you have noticed that your child has a hard time keeping their head in midline, or they seem to have difficulty moving or maybe they just seem “floppy”!  Your child could have low tone or hypotonia.  Paediatric physiotherapists are great at evaluating tone and have proven techniques to help improve your child’s tone!

Physiotherapy Can Help:

  • Improve strength and endurance
  • Increase motor control and balance
  • Educate on devices to help improve alignment and tone
  • Improve age-appropriate gross motor skills and coordination
The 3 most obvious signs of low muscle tone in infants
Evidence of low muscle tone in newborns
The impacts of hypotonia in paediatric physiotherapy patients
Impacts of Hypotonia in Paediatric Patients
Typical infants when held flex legs and arms, while hypotonia infants let them hang
Assessment of Low muscle tone in newborns

Coordination

So maybe your child can’t catch a ball or skip or maybe their run just looks a bit awkward. It could be their coordination.  Again, this is an area that paediatric physiotherapists address all the time. Our extensive knowledge of development helps us address coordination disorders.  We can help your child get closer to catching that ball and doing those jumping jacks!

Physiotherapy Can Help:

  • Identify key sources of coordination issues
  • Develop comprehensive strength training to improve coordination
  • Improve balance

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Toe Walking

So your child has been toe walking since they took their first steps, and your doctor said they would outgrow it!  Years later and they still haven’t outgrown it!  I hate to be the bearer of bad news but children don’t just outgrow toe walking.  As they develop their toe walking develops with them.  You need a solid approach to address the toe walking and oftentimes you don’t just address the feet.  Us paediatric physiotherapists can help with this too! We have unique skills to address all the causes of toe walking and how to address it!

Physiotherapy Can Help:

  • Assess underlying causes of toe walking
  • Develop an appropriate stretching and strengthening program
  • Advise and educate on appropriate interventions and orthotic devices
A child walking on tiptoes on cement, heels do not touch the ground which will be assessed by a paediatric physiotherapist
The outward appearance of toe walking in children

These are all just a snapshot of what paediatric physiotherapists can treat. In reality, our skills are endless. We can treat just about any condition that impairs movement, balance, or coordination.  Our skills are unique to children.  We are creative not only in our treatment approaches but also in our ability to keep your child engaged during a treatment session! Paediatric physiotherapists are just as unique as the children we treat!  I hope this blog gives you a better understanding of how a pediatric therapist can help your child! Don’t trust your child’s care to anyone but a qualified paediatric physiotherapist.  Give us a call and let’s see what we can do for your child!

If you have any questions or concerns regarding any areas of your childs development and would like a free virtual consultation please click the link below! We would love to help you and your child out.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Paediatric Physiotherapist?

They are licensed healthcare professionals who specialize in the treatment of children.

What does a Paediatric Physiotherapist do?

We asses and treat various conditions including musculoskeletal conditions, injuries, and those conditions that may impair development or movement.

How do I know my child needs physiotherapy?

If your child is not meeting their developmental milestones, is floppy or uncoordinated, has a musculoskeletal injury, or if your baby is preferring to look to one side, you may want to look into scheduling an assessment with a paediatric physiotherapist in your area.

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