How do I Know if My Child Needs Pediatric Therapy?
We are all unique, with our own individual collection of quirks and traits that make us who we are. Sometimes, however, an issue that arises in early childhood can seriously impede our future development, socialization or physical function. Let us look at some ways to determine whether your child might benefit from physical therapy. Contact Partners in Physical Therapy today to schedule a consultation.
Conditions Treated by a Pediatric Physical Therapist
Children can experience a wide range of physical and behavioral problems from a very early age, that may be due to neurological, neurocognitive, orthopedic or generalized musculoskeletal problems. Pediatric physical therapy can treat a surprisingly broad range of conditions and diagnoses such as:
- Neurological injuries, including nerve damage and brain injuries
- Musculoskeletal injuries (fractures, strains, sprains, etc.)
- Neurological disorders such as hydrocephalus, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy
- Musculoskeletal disorders such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, hypotonia (lax muscle tone) and hypertonia (excessive muscle tone)
Signs and Symptoms of Potential Problems
If your child has never received a formal diagnosis of a health problem or demonstrated any obvious symptoms of such a problem, you may be wondering how you can tell whether your child is a potential candidate for pediatric physical therapy. Such signs need not be dramatic demonstrations. Keep a watch for such subtle indicators as:
- “W Sitting” – Does your child sit with his or her lower legs tucked outward, essentially forming a W shape on the ground? This “W sitting” appears harmless enough, and it does not cause your child discomfort. But it is a sign that your child’s core muscles may not be as strong as they should be. Poor core muscle strength (in either children or adults) can affect balance and coordination while also raising the risk of injuries.
- Slouching or stooping – If your child tends to slouch or stoop over, the muscles that support the trunk and/or neck may be weak. Chronic postural problems can lead to spinal misalignment and muscle strain.
- Walking or stair-climbing abnormalities – If your child is not walking or climbing stairs normally, he may need a physical therapist. Children who tend to walk on their toes all the time, for instance, may be contending with balance or muscle problems. Children who are unable to go up or down stairs one foot at a time by age 4 may have coordination or developmental issues that need to be treated.
How Pediatric Physical Therapy Can Help
Pediatric physical therapy offers a safe, supervised, drug-free complement to other forms of pediatric care. Our physical therapists perform a comprehensive initial evaluation to identify any abnormalities in gait, stance, balance, physical coordination,muscle tone, range of motion, and/or strength. We can then prescribe exercises aimed at improving those particular impairments. We may recommend:
- Exercises to rebuild muscle strength
- Flexibility exercises to help restore full range of motion
- Gentle stretches and other methods to lengthen and loosen tight tissues
- Core training exercises to help your child assume a straight, healthy posture