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Integrative Family Health Clinic in Bolton and the Greater Caledon Area
4-22 Simona Drive
Bolton, ON

Pediatric Physiotherapy: Never Too Soon to Start

Are you concerned that your baby might be delayed in their movement development? Worried that they might not be rolling, sitting, crawling, or walking yet? Are you worried that the way your baby is moving doesn’t look right? Do they only roll to one side, are they sitting slumped forward or W-sitting, are they crawling abnormally or walking only on their tip-toes? This article is all about how pediatric physiotherapy can help, and when you should get started.

developmental milestones of infants and children in pediatric physiotherapy
Source: Pulsenotes

Comparing your baby to their peers, checking in with your doctor or pediatrician, or completing published developmental milestone checklists are all helpful strategies to get a reading on how your baby is doing with their motor development. 

Still, you may be left feeling worried that your baby is slower to develop their movement milestones or you may be wondering if they’re moving normally. In these cases, parents like you often feel like they have no direction on how to help them. What’s more, there’s the added pressure to have your baby walking by the time they start daycare.

What is pediatric physiotherapy?

Pediatric physiotherapy can help you understand your child’s movement development and help your child reach their movement milestones. You don’t need a doctor’s referral to work with a pediatric physiotherapist, and the sooner you start, the better for your child’s development.

The earlier, the better

Movement is not pre-programmed into your baby’s brain. It won’t just turn on once your child reaches a certain age. Movement is a response to your baby being hungry and curious — they may see or hear something interesting, they may want to grab or explore something, they may feel the push of gravity or the surface below them, they may feel off-balance and want to right themselves, and they may want to engage socially.

There are so many systems that need to integrate well in order to result in normal movement development. The earlier your pediatric physiotherapist can identify the systems that may be impacting your child’s movement development, the earlier movement delays and abnormal movement patterns can be prevented. 

How does pediatric physiotherapy help?

By doing a movement screening, your pediatric physiotherapist will: 

    1. Assess for abnormal movement patterns that could lead to developmental delays
    2. Assess for existing movement delays
    3. Assess for deficits other systems that affect movement, including:
        • muscle tension
        • muscle weakness
        • balance difficulties
        • coordination difficulties
        • sensory difficulties
        • movement asymmetries
        • weak core strength or activation
        • poor body awareness
        • delayed protective and equilibrium reactions
        • hyper- or hyposensitivity to touch or pressure 
        • hyper- or hyposensitivity to movement
        • high or low muscle tone

Once it’s clear which factors are contributing to your child’s abnormal or delayed movement, your pediatric physiotherapist will develop a treatment plan to make sure that all of your child’s systems are working together to develop normal and age-appropriate movement.

During pediatric physiotherapy sessions, your child will have in-office treatment sessions until they meet their movement milestones.

Parent education is key to following through and continuing the benefits of in-office treatment. You will also be well-equipped with exercises and strategies to help with your child’s normal movement development in their home environment.

Long-term benefits of pediatric physiotherapy

The benefits of pediatric physiotherapy are both immediate and long-term. Not only will you see immediate benefits in your child’s movement development, but early intervention means that you can prevent further delays in movement development.

Pediatric physiotherapists recommend early intervention to improve your child’s confidence as they move through their environment. With better integrated systems, your child’s movement will be better coordinated and have improved balance. Improved movement for your child also means they will have better interactions with their environment and peers.

Remember, the earlier the interventions, the sooner you and your child can see the benefits.

If you’re ready to get started, our pediatric physiotherapist at Wildflower Health & Wellness is currently accepting patients in the Bolton, Caledon, and Peel regions.

Physiotherapy for pregnancy and postpartum Wildflower health and wellness clinic

Supporting Changing Bodies: Physiotherapy for Pregnancy and Postpartum

Pregnancy is an exciting period of time that comes with lots of changes to your body. As your baby grows, there are so many noticeable changes that connect you to your growing baby. Your baby bump starts to pop and grow, and eventually, you’ll start to feel your baby kick. With these changes, however, you may also be experiencing some not-so-exciting symptoms.

What body changes happen with pregnancy?

As your baby bump grows beyond your natural frame, your abdominal muscles elongate and your rib cage allows for more room to accommodate. These changes shift the dynamics of how you breathe and how your core muscles — such as your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles — function.

Your pelvic organs and digestive organs accommodate a growing baby by changing positions, which affects how these organs function.

Changes in the abdominal and pelvic organs can lead to a host of unexpected symptoms, for example:

  • low back pain
  • pelvic girdle pain
  • hip pain
  • rib pain
  • shortness of breath
  • constipation
  • increased frequency of urination
  • incontinence (leaking urine) on the way to the bathroom; or when coughing, sneezing, squatting, jumping, or running
  • vaginal heaviness
  • pain during intercourse
  • “lightning” crotch pain
organ changes during pregnancy
Source: Pearson Education

What is prenatal physiotherapy?

Prenatal physiotherapy supports a pregnant person’s body during pregnancy, before baby’s birth. The focus of prenatal physiotherapy is:

1. To maintain a strong core and normal breathing mechanics

Strong core muscles and normal breathing mechanics are supported when physiotherapists assess:

  • how you are holding your rib cage and pelvic when you stand, sit, and move
  • what your breathing pattern is
  • how you activate your core muscles for stability

Together, you and your physiotherapist will work together on rib and hip mobility in addition to abdominal muscle mobility and strength. We will optimize your breathing pattern and ensure you know how to activate your core muscles.

2. To prepare your pelvic floor for labour and delivery

Kegels aren’t appropriate for everyone. Pelvic health physiotherapists can assess your pelvic floor to learn whether your pelvic floor muscles are in a state of tension, whether you are able to relax them, and whether or not you need to be practicing Kegels.

Relaxing and lengthening your pelvic floor muscles is a key function for labour and delivery. Your pelvic health physiotherapist should work on your ability to consciously relax and lengthen your pelvic floor, in addition to treating any tension that exists in the area. Finally, prenatal physiotherapy involves improving the mobility of your perineal membrane, another layer of tissue in the area, which also needs to lengthen and open during labour and delivery.

3. To teach you positions, pain management, and pushing strategies for labour and delivery

Finally, prenatal physiotherapy involves preparing you, not just your muscles, for labour and delivery. Guided by your physiotherapist, you will learn certain positions that support pain management in addition to learning how to push during labour and delivery.

What is postpartum physiotherapy?

Postpartum physiotherapy supports an individual’s body after pregnancy, or after giving birth. During the postpartum period, many of the symptoms experienced during pregnancy may still persist. In addition, the postpartum body may also experience:

  • painful perineal scar
  • painful and immobile C-section scar
  • pelvic organ prolapse (vaginal, uterine, or rectal prolapse)
  • diastasis recti, also known as “mommy pooch” or “mommy tummy”

The focus of postpartum physiotherapy is:

1. To regain a strong core and normal breathing mechanics

In the postpartum phase, your physiotherapist will work with you to ensure that the position of your rib cage and pelvic return to neutral, that your breathing mechanics return to a normal pattern, and that you are able to activate your core muscles in a balanced and coordinated way, without overcompensating muscles that might cause further pain or dysfunction.

2. To regain a strong pelvic floor

Pelvic health physiotherapists will also re-assess how your pelvic floor muscles have responded to labour and delivery and ensure that you regain the full strength and function of y our pelvic floor muscles.

3. To support C-section and perineal scar healing

Births may result in either a C-section scar, perineal tearing or scarring, or pelvic trauma in general. There are many techniques that your pelvic health physiotherapist can use to support healing and improve the mobility of C-section and perineal scars, to prevent future pain and restrictions in the tissue.

Summary

Overall, the goal of prenatal and postpartum physiotherapy is to ensure that you have:

  • a healthy and strong pregnancy
  • a smooth labour and delivery; and
  • a full recovery

in order to return to all the daily activities that you love, pain- and restriction-free, with your new baby.

If you’re ready to get started, our pelvic health physiotherapist accepts patients in the Bolton, Caledon, and Peel regions.