Most of a child’s physical skills develop between birth and the age of five. Problems or health conditions affecting a child between these years can create physical limitations or difficulties through life. Physiotherapy for children can be a beneficial way to combat mobility obstructions and support functional, optimal, age-appropriate physical functioning.
The main emphasis for physiotherapy for children is focusing on normal development skills. Normal abilities depend upon the child’s age and can consist of gross motor and fine motor skills. Gross mobility consists of activities where movement of large portions of the body or the whole body moves in unison. This requires the coordination of large muscle groups. Gross motor skills include general bed mobility, including rolling and sitting up; and basic mobility skills including resting on hands and knees; coming to a sitting position and crawling. Most younger children and those children with moderate to severe physical disabilities can do gross motor activities.
Once these basic activities are mastered, physiotherapy for children can progress to more advanced gross motor movements. These can include things like challenging balance in sitting, and standing tolerance or balance. When dynamic standing, or the ability to hold standing position when challenged, is mastered, practicing the different components of walking can be introduced to prepare the child for the act of walking.
Physiotherapy for children also benefits the quality of movement patterns includes teaching or enhancing fine motor skills. Fine motor skills require the coordination of smaller muscle movements often to complete certain tasks such as hold a crayon or clap hands together. The advanced skills required for fine motor coordination can be practiced and improved by performing simple grooming tasks such as brushing teeth or hair.
Often child physiotherapists have children play age-appropriate games during sessions. Game playing can enhance fine motor skills. Playing games also focuses on the ability to process information and react or move accordingly. These activities also teach the child how to coordinate several different movement skills simultaneously. When played in an unsupported sitting or standing position, games can also increase balance and strength.
Physiotherapy for children is also a valuable tool to decrease the amount of physical deformity caused by chronic health conditions such as cerebral palsy. In these instances where physical limitations may be great, coping skills can be learned. This can include the use of appropriate assistive devices such as wheelchairs or ambulation aids like walkers, or proper positioning techniques to allow the child to maximize his unique movement patterns and skills.