Child development is an important and unique science. Physiotherapists who work with children are specialized in adapting their professional skills and knowledge to deliver appropriate care to the child. This requires an understanding of both the physical progress of the child and their psychological advancement.
Pediatric physiotherapy not only includes working on child development, but also diseases and conditions that affect development and arriving at therapeutic interventions that can optimize well being, especially of the disabled. Moreover, the physiotherapist works not only with the child, but also with the family on how to develop a safe environment for the child and making them the centre of everyday planning. Because of the complex needs of a child and his family, physiotherapists may have to work in different environments such as homes, hospitals, schools, etc and with people from different backgrounds, such as medicine, nursing, social work, educational and childcare. This necessitates that they be able to communicate their assessments and treatment plans to all adults involved in the team.
Environment for Treatment
It is essential that the child feels comfortable during his treatment. While the venue of the treatment may vary, it must take place in an environment compatible with the child’s psyche. For this, their surrounding needs to feel friendly and familiar, like at home or school. Avoid putting complicated machinery or items that the child cannot freely touch in the room. The floor in any room makes a great play area, provided it is clean and safe.
Physiotherapy for Infants
Play activities provide abundant opportunities for young children to gain skills and improve movement. Ball games and drawing can help exercise the arms and refine motor control. Games that involve fetching and carrying may improve muscle development. Simple games like hopping or toe-touching can be included in leg exercises. Action songs and dances are a great way to include movement therapy. The idea is to keep the child interested.
Physiotherapy for Older Children
Older children are mature enough to have an awareness of their body and surroundings. This makes it easier to include them actively in exercises and activities. Yet, it always helps to make the exercises fun for them to do, or reward them with play-time between breaks. Older children have short attention spans; therefore their exercises must be limited to 5-10 minutes.
The physical growth of children is vastly aided by the equipments they use daily. In early months, the toys and baby gears a child uses to protect and shape his body. A child’s seat must give him adequate spinal support and freedom of movement to observe his surrounding and reach and grasp things. In older kids, seating arrangements should be comfortable and balanced. Equipments such as walking aid, wheelchairs, foam wedges etc. play a special role in physically improving the quality of life for a child with special needs.
The main aim of physiotherapy in children is to aid development and allow a child to enjoy his life with minimum handicap.