How Physical Therapy Can Help Your Child Thrive
When people think of physical therapy, it’s often associated with adult injuries, post-surgery, or trauma-related rehabilitation. This is all accurate, of course, physical therapy helps people regain mobility after they have been injured. The profession of physical therapy has made incredible strides in recent decades in regard to developmental deficiencies in babies and children. Early intervention is a great way to prevent a child from having consequences from poor motor skills or mobility. Treatment with physical therapy can start as when a baby is a few months old to children of about 14 years old.
Physical Therapy for Your New Baby
New parents tend to be quite anxious to see their baby meet all the necessary milestones. This might also lead to parents eagerly awaiting their baby’s first roll over, crawl, and steps. And while children vary greatly in how and when they reach these milestones, there are times where it might be an indication of an underlying problem or slight developmental deficiency. Catching these things early can make a big difference in your child’s development. Here are a couple of things to look for in your new baby:
- If your baby only turns to one side
- Baby doesn’t bear weight on legs at six months
- Baby not sitting by 8 months
- Not crawling by 12 months
- Not walking by 18 months
Even something as simple as ensuring your baby has enough tummy time can be crucial for your child’s development. Some brand new babies don’t like being on their tummy and this can lead to a slow development of core and back muscles they need to start crawling. Neck muscles to hold the head up also develop around this time and a child that does not spend time on their belly might be slow to develop this. Sitting is also necessary for trunk strength and back muscles. Crawling is a necessary milestone in order to develop important motor skills and muscles in the arms and legs that prepares children for walking.
What is Physical Therapy for My Kid Like?
Children and young kids learn by playing. So physical therapy for your child will involve a lot of focused play that activates certain muscles or promotes certain movements depending on the reason they are getting therapy. This type of play can be very beneficial for your child, as it promotes motor skills, an active lifestyle, and even brain development. Many medical conditions and injuries might cause pain for your child and prevent them from moving effectively. Because children might not be able to express or articulate their problems, it may go unnoticed for too long and cause more problems down the road.
How a physical therapist might begin working with your child:
- Strength evaluations
- Analyze gait and posture
- Assess flexibility
- Check the range of motion
With this information, the physical therapist can devise what physical limitations or impairments your child might be suffering from and find the appropriate plan to remedy them. The treatment programming is usually customized because every child’s condition is different but on any given session you might see:
- Playing with bouncing balls or weighted balls
- Climbing play ladders
- Going down slides
- Using swings for core strength and balance
- Doing small obstacle courses that require climbing, jumping, and running
- Balance and coordination activities using marked lines on the floor
- Aquatic water therapies
- Crawling and walking exercises
- Strength training and coordinating using toys, games, and more
How Does Physical Therapy Help My Child With Autism?
For many children that are diagnosed with autism, fine-tuning, and reinforcing motor skills is key to their continued development. Every child on the spectrum is unique and has specific needs that apply to them. So just like any physical therapy regimen, it is customized and focused directly on your child’s specific needs. Children with autism might exhibit low muscle tone, poor balance, a lack of coordination, or a combination of all three. Physical therapy is a great way to enhance your child’s development and ensure that their movement is supervised so they don’t fall behind.
When working with children with autism, a physical therapist addresses similar issues than with any child patient. They might have a slightly more focused approach that tackles:
- Gross motor skills
- balance/coordination skills
- Strength training
- Functional movement
Physical Therapy Makes Your Child Stronger, Confident, and Independent
Strong motor skills and the ability to move can have significant consequences for your child as they grow older and reach adulthood. By improving strength and motor skills, your child gains the confidence to play with other children, join extracurricular activities, maybe even join a sports team. This in turn further reinforces your child’s skills, strength, and even brain development. At the same time, it contributes to helping with socialization and their ability to participate in school activities. As they grow into adults, this inculcates a love for a healthy and active lifestyle and can benefit your child for decades to come.
If you suspect your child might need physical therapy, call us here at Pasitos Clinic. We specialize in assessing children and finding the right therapy plan for them.