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Why Your Newborn May Need Physical Therapy and Early Intervention Therapies

The process of development that happens inside the womb is a remarkable testament to nature’s complexity. From the outside, we see that baby bump go from the size of a small melon to a large beach ball and once that adorable beach ball emerges into the world, it is privy to all the extraordinary experiences of life. All new parents, of course, will do everything to ensure their child’s safety and a safe passage throughout its first stages of development.  

In recent years, physical therapy has become a well-prescribed early intervention remedy to many developmental problems or deficiencies that are clear at birth. In our previous blog post, we wrote about how physical therapy can help children in different stages of development thrive. We thought we’d focus on how physical therapy can be beneficial for newborns. 

Premature Babies and How They Can Benefit from Physical Therapy 

A baby born at full-term will be born at just about 40 weeks. A baby born before 37 weeks is considered premature. According to some statistics, 1 out of 9 babies is born prematurely in the United States. This adds up to about 500,000 U.S babies that are born too soon every year. 

Thanks to advancements in medical science and technology, babies born too early have a much better chance of survival than they did even just 30 years ago. Babies born as soon as 22 weeks are surviving and growing up healthy. If not dealt with early, however, these children can develop some health and developmental disabilities. 

The more premature the baby, the more possible complications it can have as it is developing. This is where physical therapists come into play. A good physical therapist will work with a primary care doctor to identify potential issues and problems that may arise with the child. The PT will design treatment plans to help the baby develop and reach their full potential. 

For some time after birth, a premature baby will remain in the ICU, as the team of physicians works to ensure that all aspects of health are developing properly. Part of this team will usually be a physical therapist, who is monitoring the child and its ability to move. 

Physical therapy should begin early, so the treatment plan can be as comprehensive and effective as possible. A PT can help you understand the needs of your baby and even give you a lot of valuable information to help you better interact with your child. Even actions that seem quite simple like how to hold or feed your baby in a way that promotes the treatment plan. Gentle hands-on treatment may be used, as this helps the PT determine how the head, limb, and trunk are developing.

How Physical Therapists Treat and Deal with Container Baby Syndrome 

Babies are delicate little creatures. Their skulls are still not fully formed, their bones are quite soft, and their little organ systems are just slowly developing to deal with the many foreign invaders of life.

“Container baby syndrome” is the name used to describe a range of conditions that are caused by an infant spending too much time in a container such as a car seat, stroller, bouncer seats, nursing cushions, rockers, vibrating chairs, jumpers, and so on. These conditions that develop can lead to movement, cognitive, and even social interaction problems. 

In some cases, it may even cause deformity. An individualized plan with a PT can help the baby build strength in its little muscles, restore its movement, and address any deformities that may have occurred. While these containers are meant to maintain a baby’s safety, leaving them in there for too long prevents them from moving their entire body and can have a major impact on their ability to move properly and prompt the baby to develop necessary skills like rolling, crawling or walking.

A physical therapist will examine the baby’s muscle development, head shape, how the baby moves its head and limbs, and how well your baby can crawl or change positions. Based on their assessment, a plan will be developed to encourage the baby to move more on their own and slowly develop the strength necessary to increase mobility and muscle strength.

The Reason You See Babies Wearing a Helmet 

A baby in a helmet is, quite frankly, an adorable site, but the helmet is not ornamentation or fashion; it is a type of treatment that ensures a baby’s skull is shaped properly. Many physical therapists working with newborns will identify when the child is showing signs of what is medically referred to as positional plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome. 

This can often be exacerbated by babies laying on one side for too long and it can prevent them from turning their head properly. When a baby has difficulty turning its head to one side or keeping the neck or head straight, this condition is called Torticollis.  A physical therapist can work with your baby to fix this problem and encourage them to move and turn their head appropriately.

Working with newborn babies is a form of early intervention physical therapy. If your baby has received some physical therapy because it was premature or due to some other reason, it can be a good idea as they grow older to keep an eye on any issues that may arise. 

Take the First Step with Pasitos Clinic, Today!

Here at Pasitos Clinic, we help babies and children get stronger and lead a more active life through professional physical therapy and occupational therapy. If you think your child can benefit from therapy, call us to find out how our experienced therapist can help your family. 

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