Paediatric physical therapy is a specialization of physical therapy that advises, treats, and cares for people from 0 to 18 years of age. It can help in those children who have a delay in their development, or abnormalities in movement or risk of suffering them.
This branch of physiotherapy includes a broad set of techniques that will give important benefits to children with serious health problems and healthy children. It has always been used with children with neurological pathologies: cerebral palsy, neuromuscular diseases (spinal muscular atrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy), congenital torticollis, etc. Also, in traumatological and orthopaedic anomalies, in rheumatological processes and respiratory problems (bronchiolitis, cystic fibrosis, asthma …). It will also have great benefits for patients with pathologies of genetic origin, such as Down Syndrome, Rett Syndrome or Wolf Syndrome.
All the treatments within paediatric physiotherapy are aimed at restoring damaged functions as well as guiding the child throughout his motor development, with psychomotor and neuromotor stimulation, in addition to respiratory physiotherapy techniques in paediatrics, stimulation, psychomotor skills, postural treatment and bandages.
Paediatric physiotherapy has a very important role in the prevention of health problems, with special emphasis when it is used at an early age. It can very quickly alleviate problems such as colic or sleep disorders, improving the quality of life of the little ones.
We must remember that within paediatric physiotherapy it is as important to treat as to prevent, in order to avoid more complicated pathologies in the future.
In any physiotherapy treatment with children, it will be very important to have good communication with the patient as well as with his family, in order to improve the treatment as well as to be able to limit it as much as possible to the real needs and motivations of the child.
Respiratory rehabilitation is also included in children affected by diseases (asthma, bronchiolitis, cystic fibrosis, etc.) that reduce their respiratory capacity.
The child physiotherapy also contemplates the treatment of the sequelae of acute diseases (meningitis, respiratory infections, malignancies, heart deformities, etc.) and diseases which originate incorrect positions or fractures.
It is also responsible for maintaining or improving the functionality of the child who suffers from a chronic disease (neuromuscular or metabolic) or correcting alterations in posture and movement caused by a central nervous system injury, cognitive deficit, visual deficit or motor clumsiness.
With regard to motor and developmental problems, the objectives of children’s physiotherapy focus on the following aspects:
- Improvement of motor skills, both basic and specialized.
- Improve balance and coordination, as well as strength and endurance.
- Sensory and cognitive improvement.
- Central nervous system stimulation.
- Facilitate motor development directly related to the child’s age.
In the first years of a child’s life, perceptual, motor, cognitive, linguistic and social skills are developed that will allow them to interact with the world around them. The sooner you undergo child physical therapy, the more you can help correct the problems that condition your development. It must be taken into account that the younger the age of the child, the greater his brain and musculoskeletal plasticity.
The child physiotherapy requires prior assessment of:
- Motor development.
- Spontaneous mobility.
- The force.
- The musculoskeletal state.
- The functional postures.
- The equilibrium.
- Coordination, etc.
This will make it possible to know the psychomotor retardation and the possible deviations in musculoskeletal growth and, from there, plan an individualized program that includes different therapeutic strategies.
After the treatment, it is important to train the parents so that the child continues with the rehabilitation exercises at home and thus avoid having problems again.