Physical therapy isn’t just for injured athletes or those with arthritic knees, it can also help infants and young children get the boost they need to overcome developmental delays. We all grow and learn at our own pace, but at the same time, no parent wants to see their child fall behind when it comes to common developmental milestones, and that’s when a physical therapist may enter the picture. In today’s blog, we take a look at how a physical therapist can help your child if you or your pediatrician are concerned about their growth and development.
PT For Childhood Developmental Delays
If your sister’s kid was walking at 10 months, don’t feel like you need to sign your child up for physical therapy if their first birthday comes and goes and they aren’t yet walking around your living room. For a child to be diagnosed with a developmental delay that requires physical therapy, it will need to be considered a substantial delay in development. If your child still isn’t walking by the 18-month mark, then physical therapy intervention may be recommended.
Developmental delays aren’t just for the major physical milestones, like holding their head up, crawling or walking. A physical therapist can help to correct a delay in any of the following areas:
- ADLs (Activities of daily living)
- Cognitive function
- Gross and fine motor skills
- Social and emotional skills
- Speech and language
Like any health condition, the sooner the delay is recognized and treated, the better success rates tend to be. Again, this doesn’t mean that you need to rush your child to physical therapy if they aren’t doing something that one peer can do, but if they aren’t doing things that all their peers seem to have mastered, talk with your pediatrician or a physical therapist about developmental delay PT.
How Developmental Delays Are Treated With Physical Therapy
Developmental delay treatment is highly specific to the child and to the skills that are working to be improved, so it’s safe to say that treatment is unique to the child. However, the process by which we achieve these results is similar.
For starters, we’ll begin by talking with a parent or guardian about their concerns and then evaluate the child with a physical assessment. This can be done by having them perform a few simple actions or simply seeing how the child responds to stimulation or other cues. Once a baseline has been determined, your physical therapist will develop a routine for your child. Since infants and children won’t be able to perform exercises or therapy techniques on their own, treatment will focus on getting the child to perform these actions with cues. For example, laying the child on their stomach and lifting a ball in front of their face can lead them to lift their head to look at the ball, which can improve neck muscles if head control is a concern. Your PT will perform some techniques with your child and teach you how to continue the development with similar exercises at home.
That last point is key, because parents and guardians play a big role in helping a child overcome a developmental delay. Since you won’t bring your child in for PT every day, we’ll be giving you some exercises for your child to perform between sessions, and it’s imperative that you understand how to perform these techniques and that you follow through as scheduled. Parents play a critical role when it comes to developmental delay treatment, so a physical therapist will take time to ensure that care providers understand how they can help their child meet their milestones.
With the help of a PT-guided program and follow through at home, we’re confident that your child will move past their developmental delay. For more information, or for answers to any questions you have about normal physical or cognitive milestones in children, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.