Thursday, June 23, 2011

Physical Therapy: Warning Signs and What Parents Can Do from KidsCare Therapy

It is with such sadness that I introduce our final post in our KidsCare Therapy series. I've had such a fun time working with KidsCare to bring you valuable information about in-home Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapy, what to look for as warning signs with your children, and how to help your children along developmental milestones. All good things must come to an end, I suppose, but I've let KidsCare know that they are welcome back 'round these parts anytime :)

KidsCare Therapy has bittersweet feelings about being back this week for the final post of our series with Avant Garde Parenting for the second half of information on physical therapy. We are so happy that after today we will have provided you with the last bit of information to help enable you to keep the kids in your life developing, but we have enjoyed sharing our passion so much that it is sad to see it end!

In our last post we covered the general overview of what a pediatric physical therapist scope of treatment includes. So what do you think we are going to discuss for this week?  That’s right – we are going to tell you all about the specific diagnosis our physical therapist see in children, as well as potential warning signs and some things you can do with your children to ensure they continue to develop on target!

Physical therapists most often see children with developmental delays. While they also treat many patients with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome and Neurological Impairments, as with speech and occupational therapy they are really treating a list of common symptoms in these diagnosis, which we discussed in our last post. In order to know if your child could potentially need physical therapy services, we have provided a list below of potential warning signs in a child.

These warning signs include;
  • If an infant has difficulty holding up his/her head
  • A child is falling a lot
  • Unable to perform skills like their peers
  • Walking on their toes
  • Regression of motor skills they have previously acquired
  • They have difficulties walking
  • Poor posture
  • Asks to be carried all the time
  • If they use one side of the body more than the other
  • They show jerky movements or poor balance 

For additional developmental delays please check out our developmental delay chart 
These are all potential signs that could mean a child in your life needs to be evaluated for physical therapy services, and as we mentioned in our last post, catching this early, with proper treatment can help to alleviate problems later in the child’s life.

So, what can you do to help ensure you child develops normally? While you can’t be sure that they don’t break a bone or get into an accident (because lets face it – kids will be kids), you can do a few simple things to help make sure they continue to develop their motor skills at a normal pace.

·       For an infant it is important they have the opportunity to spend time on the floor in different positions.  While it is not recommended for them to sleep on their tummies, it is important that they spend some time on their stomach while they are awake.  This helps to facilitate rolling, head control and overall development. 

·       Minimize the time your infant spends in seating systems such as a car seat, bouncy seat and swing.  These activities are primarily passive and don’t encourage a lot of movement and strength building.  Providing your infant with floor time will assist them with developing their gross motor skills and meeting their milestones.

·       In today’s day of TV and video games it is important that your child gets exercise daily.  This can be easily done by doing activities that range from riding bikes, scooters, jumping rope, or just taking a walk or going to the park.  Limit TV and video games to one hour per day and remember to utilize a helmet when riding bikes and scooters (to prevent those kid accidents!).

·       Along those same lines, playing with your child is perhaps one of the best things you can do to keep them in shape and healthy. Specifically, swinging on swings, crawling through tunnels, and playing on the playground can help to develop their motor planning skills, strength and endurance.  Simple things that you can do in your home include building an obstacle course using furniture,  building a fort together to explore, or playing with the couch cushion making tunnels or towers. 

·       Being involved in sports such as gymnastics, swimming, and soccer are also great ways to enhance strength, coordination and balance.

With the help of these activities hopefully your child will continue to grow and thrive normally, but as we mentioned before if you ever notice that a child in your life is displaying some of the above listed warning signs be sure to mention it to their pediatrician. There are lots of great home health agencies in the area that can provide physical therapy services to your child right there in your living room!

See below for a great story about a kid who with one of our home health physical therapists was able to play with his brother again.
Jaden, age 2, was born prematurely.  He and his twin brother were delivered via C-section at 32 weeks because of a complication called twin-to-twin transfusion.  One of the twins’ systems (in this case, Jaden’s) was doing all of the work for both.  To make matters worse, he also had a condition called tricuspid atresia, a problem in which the right ventricle of his heart did not form.  Jaden’s heart, already weaker than a normal baby’s, was forced to support two babies.

Jaden spent the first three months of his life in the hospital before his parents were allowed to bring him home.  He underwent his first heart surgery at one and half months; his second, at six months.  His most recent heart surgery, the third, was one month ago—a week after his second birthday.  All were considered great successes, but as with any surgery, post-operative care is critical.  Because of the vulnerable state of his heart, Jaden cannot and should not expend too much energy.  In addition, he is very susceptible to infection and he must receive oxygen at all times, which means leaving his house is difficult.  Anytime Jaden goes anywhere, his oxygen tank and supplies follow.

All of these complications make Jaden a very immobile child.  Unfortunately, mobile is just what he and his family must be with the constant schedule of doctors’ appointments.  They consider themselves very fortunate having the ability to receive therapy in the home.  Not only does this mean they are not obligated to transport Jaden and his equipment to therapy sessions six times a week, but also do not have to expose his fragile system to the shock of the real world as often. 

In-home therapy has also given Jaden’s therapists a chance for educating the family to be better able to care for him.  They have been taught exactly how to work with him so that he will continue to progress, even when the therapist is not present.  After just a year of therapy, Jaden has conquered most of his sensory issues, is standing, and will soon be walking around just like his active twin brother!  This will be a dream come true for everyone in Jaden’s family.

Our passion here at KidsCare Therapy is helping kids, and because of this we have enjoyed providing information to all of the Avant Garde readers on how kids can develop and thrive. We hope that you have found our posts entertaining and informative and please feel free to contact us at our office if you have any questions about potential warning signs you see in a child in your life!


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