Physiotherapy for children with disability can look very different for each child. Ultimately the role of the physiotherapist is to assess how a child is tracking developmentally, determine what their strengths and weaknesses are, and most importantly evaluate these findings with the parent/ caregiver to see what impact these points are having on the child’s day-to-day life. An individualised program can then be tailored to the needs and the goals of the child and their family. A program considers many variables including the age of the child, type of exercise being targeted (strength, balance, coordination, core stability), and the relevance of the environment the program is conducted within (pool, gym, home, school) to name a few.
To explain this point further, some current MOVEability client examples:
- 2 year old girl with diplegic cerebral palsy, these sessions are conducted at home, and our primary goal is independent walking. Sessions are largely play based where we sing songs, play games and position toys to encourage exercise (without the child knowing that they are exercising) that assist the development of strength and balance.
- 11 year old girl with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, this young lady is a very talented para-athlete and has a goal of aiming for the Paralympics in athletics. Therefore, the goals of our sessions are to work on her running pattern and endurance. We work on these goals in the gym focusing on core and pelvic control to facilitate maximum efficiency in her running pattern and alternate these with outdoor sessions in the park where we can focus on running pattern and endurance over distance.
- 7 year old boy with spinal muscular atrophy, this young man can walk for short distances, however fatigues very quickly, he uses a manual wheelchair for most of the time. Our goal of physiotherapy therefore is to keep this boy as strong and as independent as possible.Therefore, our sessions are held in the gym where we work on his ability to get in and out of his wheelchair by himself, to be able to get up and down from the floor by himself, and to maintain or even improve his overall strength and endurance for walking.
- Goal setting in collaboration with the family and child
- Development of a home exercise program
- Developing play and gross motor milestones
Hydrotherapy is physiotherapy in the water and is a fun way to engage and capture the attention of babies, children and teenagers in a therapeutic context.
Apart from actual therapy, physiotherapist can also be involved in:
- Assisting with transition into kindy or school for example, by providing site assessments and training school staff on the needs of the child
- Manual handling training
- Equipment prescription
- Advice on footwear and orthotics
- Preparation & planning for surgery and the post-operative rehabilitation
Therefore, in summary physiotherapy for children with disability is a collaborative process between therapist, the child and their family with the goal to maximise the child’s gross motor ability, functionality and participation within the wider community.