Common Concerns That Might Mean It’s Time for Pediatric Physical Therapy

Have you noticed your child walking on their toes, tripping up the stairs, or struggling to learn how to skip or jump? Does your baby have a flattened area on his or her head? Is your infant not  crawling or walking when they should be on the move? If so, pediatric physical therapy can help!   

What is pediatric physical therapy (PT)?

Every child grows at their own pace, but there are  benchmarks that should be reached by certain times. Pediatric physical therapists help give children the boost they need to catch up. Addressing concerns early can help maximize their development and may prevent additional complications.  

Pediatric PT helps support children in reaching developmental milestones, improving mobility and range of motion, and managing other physical limitations. It addresses  challenges a child might face,  by improving their ability to perform movements like sitting, crawling, or walking–often through play based treatment.

What are some common conditions and what do they look like? 

Pediatric physical therapists are trained to meet the unique needs of each individual child. There are many different symptoms and challenges a pediatric physical therapist can help with, including: 

Toe Walking

Does your child walk on the balls of their feet, not putting their heels on the floor when they walk? If so, they may be displaying a behavior known as “toe walking.” 

Toe walking should be addressed as it can lead to muscle weakness, foot and ankle pain, increased  risk of injury, sensory issues related to the sole of the foot, bone changes, and other safety issues. 

Torticollis (“Wryneck”) 

Also known as “wryneck,” torticollis is a condition where a baby’s neck muscles cause the neck to twist to one side. It is fairly common in babies and children, and may present at birth or later in infancy or childhood. Torticollis is caused by the shortening of one of the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles —  a major muscle in the neck. There are many reasons torticollis may develop, including womb positioning, a hematoma, or abnormal SCM development. 

Pediatric PT supports increased range of motion at the neck for improved function.

Plagiocephaly (“Container Baby Syndrome”) 

In short, plagiocephaly refers to a flat spot on a baby’s head. It is very common and easily treatable! It is sometimes referred to as “container baby syndrome” as some infants and young children develop flat spots from extended time spent in “containers,” such as car seats, bounce seats, or plastic carriers. 

Prevention is key! Tummy time  helps prevent plagiocephaly by encouraging infants to hold their heads up off of surfaces and promote muscle development. Changing positions can also help prevent flattening.

Clumsiness/Gross Motor Impairment 

Pediatric PT can help children struggling to learn a new skill like skipping or jumping. They can also address frequent loss of balance which may be noticable when children trip on the stairs or bump into things more frequently than their peers. Gross motor development includes using large muscles in the arms, legs, and torso to perform functional activities like walking, running, throwing, lifting, and more. 

Working on gross motor skills helps a child gain strength, coordination, and confidence, which are important for a healthy lifestyle and the ability to complete more complex skills in the future, like playing sports. 

Addressing developmental delays early can help prevent bigger problems 

While all children are unique and develop at their own pace, addressing developmental delays early with pediatric physical therapy can help prevent little issues from becoming barriers to function. It is best to check in with a pediatric physical therapist rather than assume your child’s deficits are something he or she will “grow out of.”

Professional Therapy Services, Inc.’s team of expert pediatric therapists are ready to help. As a therapist-owned company, we listen to your specific needs and address them to meet your unique goals by offering the highest quality of care.

Find out if your child could benefit from physical, occupational, or speech therapy by calling 309-231-0676 or click here to contact our team of pediatric specialists. 

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