Paediatric Physiotherapy aims to help and treat children with physical problems as well as provide support to their families and carers. A paediatric therapist works with the child and their family to assist each child to reach their maximum potential to function independently and to promote active participation at home, in school, and in the community.
There are many familiar childhood disorders and diseases that present with movement dysfunction and motor skill issues that impact on physical development, activity and the child’s ability to participate in play, learning and socialising. These include Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy and associated disorders, Spina Bifida, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, Arthrogryposis, Cardio-Pulmonary Disorders, Cystic Fibrosis, Cancer, and Traumatic Brain Injury. In addition, many children may have hypotonia and developmental coordination disorder.
The role of the paediatric physical therapist is to evaluate and provide treatment for delays in motor skills by developing the strength and range of motion that children need to move through their environment easily and effectively. In addition to assessment of flexibility, strength, posture, gait, sensory processing, balance, coordination and skill, the paediatric therapist is trained to assess motor development using standardized testing for age equivalents.
Following an assessment, physiotherapy programmes are devised in collaboration with both the child and their family. Children often don’t understand why they are in therapy. Play, family involvement, and one-on-one care are exclusive to the paediatric therapists’ care of children. Fun and motivational factors are incorporated into functional activities to make therapy enjoyable for the child. Advice and training are provided so that the family can help and encourage the child to continue practicing them at home.