Physical therapy is generally employed for adults after acute or chronic injury in order to restore functional and anatomical stability of tissues, joints and ligaments. Although employed mostly in adults, a sub-specialty of physical therapy, pediatric physical therapy is becoming increasingly popular in individuals younger than 18 years of age. According to the research report published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), all Extremely Low-Birth-Weight (with a birth weight below 1000 g) require functional, neurological and medical assessment during pediatric years due to high risk of cognitive and musculo-skeletal issues in childhood years, associated with developmental delays and poor growth.
Chest physical therapy is generally employed in babies that are born pre-maturely or after a difficult labor. Moreover, babies who develop complications (or are at risk of developing complications) due to birth trauma can also get benefitted from the preliminary assessment and evaluation of neonatal physical therapists. All physical therapists evaluate children on the grounds of the motor and sensory behavior (the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems), cardiovascular system that is also indicative of stress (babies respond to stress and anxiety by changes in the respiratory rate and heart rate), the functional responsiveness and response to external stimuli.
Sometimes birth trauma or childhood injuries that affect the spine or other vital parts of the musculoskeletal system are missed by parents until symptoms of the primary damage deteriorate to produce secondary complications. Your child may need an evaluation from a physical therapist if he or she exhibits these sign and symptoms:
If your child is not gaining optimal weight or growth according to his biological age
If your child is not achieving essential developmental milestones like social smile, crawling, sitting, walking etc.
If your child does not frequently tilt his head to both sides of the body or lie on only one side of the body or use one side of the body more than the other side.
If your child is unable to walk properly (when other children of his age can) or if he walk awkwardly.
If your child experience frequent falls or show signs of improper coordination.
If your child has a history of significant injury involving musculoskeletal system that has not resolved completely.
Pediatric physical therapist helps with pediatricians and other nursery care staff in newborn babies who develop moderate to severe complications as part of birth trauma. A physical therapist helps in restoring functional, motor and sensory responses by helping in facilitation of the recovery process, improving sensory stimulation by tilting the head of the baby towards the source of sound and light, help in restoring functional mobility by promoting limb movements, help in tracking the development of baby, educate parents to take optimal physical, functional and neuropsychological care of the baby, help in guiding parents about the optimal positioning of the baby to prevent damage to vital systems and organs.
A physical therapist can work with older children as well who are unable to perform after injuries or as part of a congenital defect or infection. On the basis of the initial evaluation and assessment, physical therapists may introduce some modifications and interventions in the dietary, sleeping and external environment like the use of certain aids and accessories for physiological regulation and well-being of the child, advice regarding exercises or maneuvers (depending on the age and nature of injury) to promote fully coordinated, smooth movements, promotion of self-regulated behavior, and advising certain exercises, activities and maneuvers that can improve the functional status and help the child in regaining physical independence.
The treatment interventions employed by pediatric physical therapists include adaptive play activities, safety and prevention program, therapeutic exercises, mobility training and activities/ exercises that can promote balance and coordination.