When it comes to physical therapy treatments, you might think of it as a discipline geared toward helping adults recover from injuries. And while that’s true, there’s a lot more to it than that.

Pediatric physical therapy is a form of physical therapy designed to help infants and young children with any developmental issues they may be facing.

At District Speech, we not only specialize in speech and language therapy, we also offer other integrative pediatric developmental therapy solutions to assist your child in overcoming their challenges.

Read on to find out more about pediatric physical therapy, and how we can help your child.

What Is A Pediatric Physical Therapist?

Broadly speaking, a physical therapist is a healthcare professional who focuses on helping prevent movement dysfunctions. If you already have a motor dysfunction, a physical therapist can help you minimize how it affects your life.

A pediatric physical therapist is a physical therapist who specializes in treatments for issues that commonly afflict infants and young children. Their goal is to help infants and young children move their bodies as freely as possible.

There are a wide variety of different motor dysfunctions that can affect infants and young children.

Read on below to find out more about each of them.

Pediatric Physical Therapy For Torticollis

Torticollis is a condition where the muscles that run across your collarbone and toward the back of your neck are too weak, too tight, or too thick. This causes your chin to tilt to one shoulder, and your head to tilt to your other shoulder.

It can affect adults too, but it’s far more common in infants. It’s mostly caused by some sort of birth trauma, or by lying in an awkward position for too long.

If you notice your child has torticollis, a pediatric physical therapist for torticollis can help. Through gentle neck and back stretches, massage, home exercises, and more, a pediatric physical therapist can correct your baby’s torticollis in most cases.

Pediatric Physical Therapy For Flat Head Syndrome

Plagiocephaly & brachycephaly are two separate conditions that are also known as “flat head syndrome”, which might be one of the most self explanatory names of any health condition. As the name suggests, it’s when a baby has a flat spot on their head, usually a result of sleeping too often on the same area.

It shows up more often in premature babies, since their skulls tend to be softer, but it can occur with any baby.

It commonly, but not always, shows up alongside torticollis. Because torticollis makes it difficult for your baby to turn their head, they may end up lying in the same position for longer. That can lead to plagiocephaly or brachycephaly.

Long term, severe plagiocephaly & brachycephaly cases have been associated with vision and hearing problems, movement difficulties, and learning disabilities.

Pediatric physical therapy for flat head syndrome can work to restore your baby’s natural head shape and reduce the risk of it happening again.

Pediatric Physical Therapy For Developmental Delays

Children grow at different levels, because each child is different. However, broadly speaking there are certain milestones your child is expected to reach when it comes to their abilities.

By 3 months old, they should be able to lift their head, move their limbs, and open and close their hands.

By 6 months old, they should be able to remain in a seated position, reach out to grab objects, and use both hands.

By 9 months, they should be learning to crawl, roll around, and can support their weight with their legs, even if it’s with your assistance.

By 1 year, they should be able to pull themselves to a standing position, sit evenly without using their hands for support, and have fluid movement in their arms.

By 15 months, they should be able to walk fairly normally.

If your child is a little bit behind in these milestones, don’t worry. Every child is different. But if you notice them struggling with these milestones, it could be a sign of a developmental delay.

A pediatric physical therapist at District Speech can evaluate your child for developmental delays, and help you understand the help they need.

Is your infant or young child dealing with physical developmental issues?

Physical therapy with District Speech can help.

Pediatric Physical Therapy Treatments For Premature Babies

Most successful pregnancies end at around 40 weeks, because that’s the point at which your baby has finished the growing they need to do while in your womb.

If they’re born a few days early, it’s generally not cause for concern. But if your baby is born at 37 weeks or earlier, they’re considered premature. This can come with a number of different health concerns, both physical and mental.

If your baby is born prematurely, it’s a good idea to have them examined by a pediatric physical therapist. A pediatric physical therapist can check for areas of concern from a developmental perspective. From there, they can put together a treatment plan designed to address these concerns, which may include:

  • Addressing muscular deficiencies
  • Helping teach them to crawl and walk
  • Encouraging proper head positions to avoid torticollis
  • Addressing flat head syndrome if necessary
  • Teaching you, the primary caregiver, to care for your baby’s unique needs

Pediatric physical therapy for premature babies can help address and overcome these concerns, and give your baby a much better opportunity to grown into a healthy adult.

Pediatric Physical Therapy For Hypotonia

When you hold your baby, you should feel some sort of resistance from their muscles, even if it’s very minor. But with hypotonia, or low muscle tone, they can feel limp. This is why it’s often known as “floppy baby syndrome”.

It has many different potential causes, but the most obvious symptom is their feeling limp or “floppy”. They might also show difficulty with lifting their head or moving their limbs.

In many cases, a doctor can diagnose hypotonia within minutes of your baby being born. However, if you haven’t received a diagnosis, your pediatric physical therapist can help. Beyond that, they can provide treatments and exercises designed to help your child reach normal milestones in spite of their hypotonia

Pediatric Physical Therapy For Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a genetic condition where babies are born with an extra copy of their 21st chromosome. This extra chromosome affects their development. In most cases, doctors can diagnose Down syndrome immediately after birth.

There is no known cure for Down syndrome. However, pediatric physical therapy for Down syndrome can help.

Children with Down syndrome are at greater risk for a wide variety of different health concerns, including vision & hearing problems, cognitive impairments, difficulty with fine motor skills, heart disease, lower bone density, and more. A pediatric physical therapist can work with your child to reduce their risk of these concerns, as well as help them meet expected milestones as they grow.

Pediatric Physical Therapy For Gait Deformities

It’s well known that children aren’t terribly good at walking the first few times they do it. They’re awkward and clumsy, and they fall down a lot.

However, if your baby is continuing to struggle walking, it could be a result of a number of different conditions, including:

  • Knock knees
  • Bow legs
  • Femoral anteversion (“pigeon-toed”)
  • Femoral retroversion (“penguin walk”)
  • Flat feet
  • Metatarsus adductus
  • Tight calf muscle or Achilles tendon

In some cases, gait deformities don’t cause any real issues and resolve themselves as your child gets older. However, if you’re concerned, a pediatric physical therapy can treat these conditions.

Pediatric Physical Therapy For Abnormal Crawling Patterns

Typical baby crawling patterns are on all fours, where they use both sides of their body equally.

In some cases, though, you might notice your baby crawling in unusual patterns. This can include:

  • Asymmetrical crawling, where they favor one side of their body over another
  • Bottom scooting, where they drag themselves along on the floor while seated
  • Bunny hop crawling, where they crawl forward by using both legs at the same time, the way a bunny might
  • Frog leg crawling, similar to bunny hop crawling but with legs spread further apart

Sometimes, these abnormal crawling patterns are a result of nothing more than a learned pattern, and spending time teaching your baby to crawl normally is enough. However, if they’re still struggling despite your efforts, it could be a sign of a deeper problem.

Pediatric physical therapy from District Speech can help. We’ll evaluate your baby’s crawling patterns to find the root cause of it, and put together a treatment plan designed to address it.

Book Your Pediatric Physical Therapy Appointment With District Speech

Are you concerned with the way your baby is progressing?

Have you noticed some issues, or has your family doctor recommended seeing a pediatric physical therapist?

If so, District Speech can help.

Call us today to book your appointment.

Your child can overcome their physical challenges.

A District Speech physical therapist can help.