Physical therapy is not just for athletes and recovering adults, sometimes children, even infants, need it too. For a child with an injury or developmental delay, common activities such as running after a ball or climbing stairs can be the most challenging.
Pediatric physical therapists specialize in infant and child development and particularly movement development, as this is what allows young children to explore their bodies and the things in the world around them. Being able to move with ease is paramount to their learning and growth.
What does a pediatric physical therapist do?
The goal of pediatric physical therapy is to identify, diagnose and treat developmental movement difficulties in infants and children and help them improve their range of motion, strength and flexibility.
The main task of the pediatric physiotherapist is to help children to move their bodies freely and facilitate their daily activities. In physiotherapy in Ibiza we use our developed practical skills with a mix of fun and creativity to develop therapeutic programs tailored to each client.
We collaborate at all times with the family and educators to include them in the physiotherapy treatment and jointly meet the goal that each child can move and perform daily activities such as going to school, playing and learning without feeling different. The treatment may include exercises to do at home or at school to help their progress or prescribe specialized orthopedic devices to aid in their development.
What will my child do in a physical therapy session?
During the physical therapy appointment we will do a complete evaluation of your child to assess what they do well, what they struggle with and what they have difficulty with and from this we will develop a treatment program together with the family with the goal of addressing the difficulties and maximizing their abilities.
We try to make the child feel like they are in a game during the physiotherapy sessions. The pediatric physiotherapist involves the children with activities and tries at all times to keep them motivated and happy as sometimes pediatric physiotherapy can be very hard work.
Physiotherapists help children to maintain motor skills (everyday tasks involving muscle groups such as walking) through activities such as:
- Playing with large balls to build strength
- Running and jumping to improve coordination
- Balancing on a balance beam
- Standing on one foot
It is proven that early diagnosis can improve outcomes for children with developmental difficulties. If you are concerned about your child and would like to make an appointment with one of our experienced pediatric physical therapists, just contact us.
Does my child need to see a pediatric physical therapist?
Pediatric physical therapists can help children with many problems, including:
The brain along with the spinal cord and nervous system are responsible for controlling movement, certain injuries in these areas cause children to lose the function to control these movements and not be able to perform certain activities. Pediatric neurological physiotherapy is really important to treat diseases such as:
- Infantile cerebral palsy
- Genetic disorders, such as Down’s syndrome
- Brain injuries
- Muscular dystrophies or other congenital syndromes or conditions
After the neurological injury there is a period of time in which the spinal cord can allow the uninjured cells to learn to perform the missing functions. Pediatric physical therapists can help the child move properly again by regaining some or most of the functions that were lost because of the injury. .
Breathing problems cause the child to have trouble breathing. Some of these conditions such as asthma or cystic fibrosis may be congenital and need lifelong treatment. Some premature babies often have congenital diseases because their lungs are not well developed.
Other diseases are usually of shorter duration and treatable, such as bronchiolitis. In general, infants are more prone to lung problems because their airways are smaller, but advances in our diagnostics mean that we can treat them with respiratory physiotherapy and not endanger their lives.
Prevention and treatment of torticollis and plagiocephaly
The pediatric physiotherapists of Physiotherapy in Ibiza have extensive experience in treating children with plagiocephaly or what is the same an asymmetry in the shape of the skull where one side of the back of the head is flattened. Severity levels can vary from baby to baby. In mild cases it usually corrects itself and in severe cases it can be corrected by means of a helmet or surgery.
In many occasions these plagiocephalies are usually accompanied by congenital torticollis in which the baby’s head and neck are tilted to one side causing a limitation to the movement of the neck. Diagnosed at an early age it can be reduced by changes in position and stretching, but if left untreated it can cause many cognitive, body and motor delays.
Due to their frenetic activity at times of activities and games together with their low awareness of their limits, children are often much more prone to falls and fractures and sports injuries of all kinds. All fractures need time and process to heal. Pediatric physical therapy treats these trauma problems and assists in their healing.
The most common trauma problems are: fractures, sprains, hip dysplasia, clubfeet, scoliosis, etc. Our pediatric physiotherapists at Physiotherapy in Ibiza use a series of techniques to accelerate the healing process so that your child can lead a normal life as soon as possible.
A developmental delay in a child is when a child at a certain age does not reach development in tasks that other children have already learned or developed due to their age range, for example:
- Developmental delays, such as a child who should be walking.
- Muscle weakness or imbalances
- Poor motor coordination or planning, which is the ability to think about and perform a motor act, such as writing with a pencil
- Infants and children who are slow to reach their motor milestones, for example: infants who are slow to learn to sit, crawl or walk
- Infants and children who use unusual patterns for movement, e.g., sitting, shuffling, or toe walking.
- Children who have difficulty with motor skills, such as jumping or ball skills
- Toddlers and infants who are clumsy and uncoordinated.
The diagnosis of psychomotor delays can often be challenging to determine because children develop progressively over time, each at their own pace with their strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, unless the child is significantly below expected levels, it can take time to detect. Pediatric physiotherapy treatment for such cases will improve motor activity in activities like sitting, walking, or crawling. It will also enhance physical development in terms of coordination, mobility, and balance, helping children reach their milestones as soon as possible.
Colic, constipation, reflux, gas…
Pediatric physiotherapy has been shown to help babies and children with common issues such as colic, constipation, or reflux. Colic is a condition that often occurs in newborns and is typically identified by persistent crying in seemingly healthy infants. Many pediatricians advise parents to wait as colic often resolves on its own, but it can be very difficult for parents to endure endless days of crying and sleepless nights. Pediatric physiotherapy helps alleviate symptoms and naturally restores the baby’s well-being.
Reflux is also a very common condition that affects the little ones. Excessive spitting up, constant coughing, refusing to eat, or crying after eating are not normal behaviors. A baby with persistent crying, distress, and digestive problems should be treated by a pediatric physiotherapist to diagnose structural issues and provide manual therapy through specific spinal adjustments and targeted nutrition to relieve the pain associated with colic, constipation, reflux, and gas, among other conditions.
Casting is used to treat stiffness in specific areas, muscle tension, and reduced range of motion. Children should achieve maximum joint mobility. One of our pediatric physiotherapists will conduct a detailed assessment of your child to determine if casting is the appropriate treatment. Due to the complexity of some neurological conditions, casting often accompanies intensive physiotherapy sessions.
Request an initial consultation with one of our pediatric physiotherapists for a comprehensive evaluation. From there, the physiotherapist will make a diagnosis and work with you to develop the most suitable treatment plan.
If you’re concerned about your child and believe they could benefit from pediatric physiotherapy, please contact us to ensure they receive professional care.