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.
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:
- Assess for abnormal movement patterns that could lead to developmental delays
- Assess for existing movement delays
- 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.