It’s easy to think as adults we know how physiotherapy can help us. However, most people are unaware of the benefits physiotherapy can have on children as well. While we think children will recover quicker than adults or ‘outgrow’ any problems they might have, physiotherapy can help your child in much more ways than just preventing injuries.
Do children heal from injury quicker than adults?
It is true in most cases; children will heal from minor injuries quicker than adults. Younger bodies are more flexible and elastic, and their connective tissue can stretch more without tearing. Also, because they are generally more fit and because their cardiovascular systems supply more blood to injured areas in their bodies, it can speed up the healing process.
However, there are some negative sides of healing too quickly when young.
- Increased chance of longer-term injury – While the elasticity of a child’s tissue is great for reducing minor injuries it can also increase the risk of major issues as children often return to sport too quickly before complete recovery and can injuries can reoccur.
- Increased chance of arthritis – If a child has a dislocated shoulder or hip due to an accident, the joints will be under stress due to the muscles not being as developed and strong as in adults. Creating unstable joints without proper recovery and exercises can wear down the body and could lead to a future of arthritis and joint pain.
- Chances of bone avulsion – When children sprain their ankles, there is more chance of bone avulsion. Bone avulsion fracture occurs when a tendon or ligament gets pulled away from the main part of the bone.
- Chances of tendonitis – Another common problem for young children who do a lot of sport is a condition called Osgood Schlatter’s, or more commonly known as growing pains. When children who have this continually press through the pain, they can develop a large bony callous that builds in the irritated area. This can lead to a life in their adult years with patellar tendonitis or patellofemoral dysfunction.
Physiotherapy helps more severe physical conditions
Studies show that physiotherapy can help with neurodevelopment disorders such as autism and a range of other more severe conditions.
Physiotherapy can assist in the development, rehabilitation, and improvement of movement skills and performance. Some conditions might be presented as:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Down Syndrome
- Spina Bifida
- Developmental Coordination Disorder
- Gross motor delay
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Acquired Brain Injury
- Muscular Dystrophy or other neuromuscular challenges
- Other genetic disorders
- Weight challenges
If a child has a condition that limits their physical capabilities, physical strategies can be applied with a therapy plan to help the unique situation of a child’s needs.
Physiotherapy can help at school
Children are little wrigglers; there’s no denying it. Even children who can focus well and don’t have restless behaviour will still find it hard to sit still for long periods. Sitting still for children for long periods at school can take its toll on their core and spine can lead to poor seating posture and discomfort on their backs which can make them wriggle even more and lose concentration. Often kids won’t articulate this kind of discomfort, and if there is no pain, it goes typically unchecked. The same poor posture and discomfort can also have a negative effect on sleep. Physiotherapy can help align their bodies and help with posture, which can have a positive impact on being able to sit for more extended periods which can improve concentration and sleep.
Provides them with greater awareness of their bodies
A physiotherapist can better help your child understand their bodies and the growth they are having and how to prevent injuries with proper exercises and treatment. The more information children have about their bodies and how their muscles, bones and ligaments work and that they are all inter-connected, the better. It will help them protect their bodies into adolescence and adulthood.
How can I tell if my baby needs physiotherapy?
Generally, your paediatrician or GP will be taking a close look at your baby for all their milestone achievements and developments at your baby’s general check-up appointments. All babies develop at different paces, but if you feel like you have a concern, a Physiotherapist will be able to help. A couple of signs to look out for are:
- If the baby prefers only to turn their head to one side
- If the baby is not bearing weight on legs by six months
- If the baby is not sitting by eight months
- If the baby is not crawling by 12 months
- If the baby is not walking by 18 months
- If the child only walks on tiptoes