MoorMums has spoken to Cathy Preston from Yorkshire Children’s Physiotherapy to find out more about physiotherapy for babies and toddlers.
Your child is very precious to you. In striving to provide them with the best of everything, it’s important that their developmental needs, both physically and mentally are met in order for them to have the best possible chance in life.
From birth to the age of 19, the human body undergoes periods of rapid growth and development, repsonding to this through changing postures, soft tissue tension and muscle and bone strength. Helping children with physiotherapy is quite different to helping adults, not just because of the significant changes their bodies go through, but also because their emotional and pyschological needs are vastly different. In order to treat them effectively, a physiotherapeutic approach must consider all of these factors, but more importantly it must be provided by a Chartered, State Registered Physiotherapist who specialises in ‘Paediatrics’.
Yorkshire Children’s Physiotherapy provides a specialist, evidence-based paediatric service for babies, children and young adults aged 0-19 years old and is one of a limited number of indepedent physiotherapy practices that offer such a unique service, across the Yorkshire region.
If you are concerned or unsure about your baby or child’s developement, here are a few signs that you should look for…though bear in mind these are simply a guide and do not automatically indicate that your child has a developmental problem;
- Floppy baby with poor head control
- Predominant use of one side more than the other
- Inability to turn the head to one direction
- Intolerance to tummy lying and difficulty in weightbearing onto hands and knees
- Diffuclty when nappy changing due to stiff hips, rigid or crossed legs
- Difficulty in holding a pen and slow improvement in handwriting
- Frequent falls or trips
- Co-ordination / balance difficulties
- Frequent reporting by your child of pains around the back, hips and knees
- Inability to interact with other children, join in play etc.
We find that often parents do not know who to go to to seek advice or assessment if they feel concerned about their child’s development or physical status. It’s natural to have concerns about whether your child is developing as they should, particulary if it is your first child, and sometimes pressure at mother-baby groups and can enhance these concerns, as development is compared with other children. It’s important to realise that children develop at different rates and stages to one another and every baby’s ‘milestones’ are unique to them – another baby of a similar age reaching a milestone before your baby is not necessarily a sign that there is something wrong.
However, sometimes physical and developmental issues are not picked up by anyone even when problems arise, and often a referral to the correct health professional is not triggered. Unfortunately we hear time and time again that babies and toddlers have been labelled ‘lazy’, when in actual fact they may not be developing their muscle strength or co-ordination in the normal ways. It may be that they are doing something that doesn’t seem just quite right to you, but you have been given the impression that you are being over-anxious or a fussy parent.
At this stage it is often helpful to discuss this with a Paediatric Physiotherapist, in order to either put your mind at rest, or indeed if there are problems, they can be addressed promptly with a progressive treatment programme targeting the appropriate areas.
At Yorkshire Children’s Physiotherapy we are experienced in ‘screening’ babies and toddlers for developmental delay or physical issues, that may otherwise not be picked up by other health professionals. Any concerns that you may have can be talked through and assessed if necessary, in order to establish whether or not there is a particular problem that needs to be addressed, or in order to simply put your mind at rest. Early assessment can help to identify any problems before they become habits that are more difficult to change.
Physiotherapy for children is aimed at stimulating normal movement, co-ordination and strength through use of play and functional activities. This makes it more fun for children, more meaningful in terms of everyday activity, and reproducible at home and school. We like to encourage as much involvement from parents and carers as possible in their child’s rehabilitation, in order for them to feel very much part of the process, and so that rehab can continue on a daily basis rather than just in the presence of a physiotherapist. We are able to give you specific activities that will help to develop your child’s skills and movement control, and taylor rehabilitation to the needs of individual children.
Some physiotherapy techniques also involve a very hands-on approach in order to change soft tissue length and tension, and facilitate normal movement patterns. Specific stretches, massage techiques and correct handling can be taught to parents in order that the treatment outcome is the most effective it can be.
Physiotherapy for children can also work along side other Paediatric Health Professionals such as Midwives, Occupational Therpaists and Speech Therapists. We have access to a Specialist Paediatric Podiatrist who can help with any problems relating to the feet or any difficulties your child may have with walking.
Our Paediatric Physiotherapist, Kay, specialises in developmental delay, joint and muscular conditions (including fractures), sports injury rehabilitation, neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy and acquired brain injuries, co-ordination difficulties and sensory problems. Kay also works part-time at Sheffield Children’s Hospital as a Specialist Practitioner dealing with complex orthopaedic conditions and limb reconstruction.
In order to make it an accessible service to everyone who needs it, we can provide an assessment at home, at school or at one of our designated physiotherapy clinics across the Yorkshire region. If you are not sure as to whether or not you need to see a Paediatric Physiotherapist, or simply wish to ask some advice about your child, you can call Kay for a free telephone screen on 07532 308183.
Should your child need a formal physiotherapy assessment or intervention, we are delighted to offer a £5 discount on all initial appointments for Moormums members. Simply mention this feature when making your first appointment.
We are here to advise and help you through every step your child takes, with specialist knowledge, experience and practice.
Thank you to Cathy for taking the time to speak to us.