Pediatric Physio: Kids and babies need physio too!

Author: Tessa Vanzella

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Do you have a clumsy kiddo that is always falling or bumping into things? Maybe you’ve got a baby that isn’t rolling yet or is missing some motor milestones? Does your child always walk on their tippy toes or complain of joint aches and pains? If so, pediatric physio might be just the thing for your family! 

What is pediatric physio?

It’s just like regular physio but for littles! Pediatric physio focuses on assessing and treating a variety of conditions specific to babies, toddlers, kids, and teens in a fun and collaborative way. Conditions can range from musculoskeletal to neurological to developmental in nature.  

Some common conditions that we see are: 

  • Toe walking
  • Gross Motor Delays 
  • Torticollis 
  • Scoliosis
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)
  • Cerebral Palsy and other neurological conditions 
  • Sports Injuries and Musculoskeletal Conditions 

When to bring your child to physio?

It’s important to remember that variations in child development are normal. Not all kids will follow a typical timeline and not every variation requires physical therapy intervention. For babies in particular, there is a large range in when motor milestones are expected to be met. However, if your baby or child is experiencing any of the following things, you should check in with your local pediatric Physiotherapist.

  • Babies:
    • Missed milestones in general. If your baby is not:
      • Tolerating tummy time by 3 months
      • Sitting by 9 months
      • Pulling to stand by 12 months
      • Standing independently or walking by 18 months
    • Baby has a strong preference to look to one side or their head is always tilted to one side
    • Baby has difficulty with transitions (moving in and out of positions) and often gets “stuck” 
  • Kids: 
    • Child only walks on toes 
    • Persistently uncoordinated or “clumsy” 
    • Difficulty getting up off the floor 
    • Child exclusively sits using W-sit (avoids other sitting postures)  
    • Child complains of persistent joint aches or pains 
  • At any age:
    • If your child experiences a loss or decline of motor skills (difficulty with a skill they could previously do), it would be a good idea to visit your local Physiotherapist for an assessment 

What does pediatric physio look like?

Sometimes you might not even recognize it when you see it! Pediatric physio is all about making physio fun! A big part of pediatric physio involves meaningful play.

What is meaningful play?

It’s playing with a therapeutic purpose. For example, if we are wanting to improve hamstring strength, we can sit in rolling chairs and play a game of tag. In this game, your child has to pull themselves forward in their rolling chair using only their feet. This activity gets the hamstrings working in a way that’s fun and effective.

Play is a child’s natural way of developing, growing and learning and in pediatric physio we incorporate play into everything we do.

Play is a child’s natural way of developing, growing and learning and in pediatric physio we incorporate play into everything we do. Other important pieces of pediatric physio include education and family involvement.

Education and Family Involvement

Education focuses on providing families with detailed information about assessment findings, as well as providing strategies that the family can implement at home.

We also encourage parents to be active participants in the physio session. It’s important that families feel comfortable and confident implementing new strategies at home because as physios, we are only with you and your child a few hours a week (if we’re lucky!).

Book with your local pediatric physio

So if you’ve got yourself a kiddo that might benefit from pediatric physiotherapy or if you have questions or concerns regarding your child’s development, book an appointment with your local pediatric physio. If you are in the Fort Saskatchewan area you can find me at Pivotal Physiotherapy located in the Dow Centennial Centre! 

Tessa Vanzella, MScPT
Physiotherapist at Pivotal Physiotherapy

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