Paediatric physiotherapy work with people of varying ages from premature babies to adolescents to ensure optimal physical function and development. Like all physiotherapy, they are concerned with movement, co-ordination, posture and the cardiorespiratory system. The aim of the paediatric physiotherapy is to provide a program that the patient will enjoy, while encouraging them to participate and become independent.
Paediatric physiotherapists assess and treat infants and children with a range of conditions including:
- cerebral palsy - from mild hemiplegia to severe quadriplegia;
- developmental delay;
- syndromes and other genetic conditions;
- spina bifida and neural tube defects;
- muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy;
- brachial plexus lesions;
- juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA);
- visual handicaps;
- premature babies with dystonia;
- postural problems - torticollis, scoliosis, talipes, metatarsus adductus;
- respiratory problems such as cystic fibrosis or asthma;
- osteogenis imperfecta;
- minimal cerebral dysfunction.
The role of the paediatric physiotherapist is to assess the referred child and give parents and/or carers advice regarding handling, positioning and treatment through play and/or exercise. Physiotherapists work closely with families, carers, teachers and other health professionals. The approach is holistic and practical, with an emphasis on gross motor function and posture. For better outcomes and most effective treatment results, early referral is the key (before eight months). Infants and children can be seen at home, day care centre, Early Intervention Programs, schools or clinics on a regular basis.
Advice will be given on appropriate handling and equipment including seating, standing frames, mobility aids and pushers. A range of treatment methods may be used such as neurodevelopmental therapy, motor learning and hydrotherapy.Physiotherapists help to maintain and develop functional skill level and range of movement in order to minimise joint contracture and postural deformities. Paediatric physiotherapists also work with a range of conditions to help older children and adolescents, including:
- acquired brain injury and spinal injury;
- neurological diseases;
- post trauma injuries, fractures, sports injuries, post orthopaedic surgery;
- juvenile chronic arthritis and related conditions;
- cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and spina bifida;
- cystic fibrosis and other respiratory disorders such as asthma;
- burns and plastic surgery;
- limb deficiency conditions;
- chronic pain.