Pediatric physiotherapy is a broad field, with the most common issues parents bring their children to physiotherapists for being postural problems such as hunching, flat feet, and knock knees. Children are usually referred to physiotherapists by their pediatricians after routine check-ups or after screenings in kindergarten or school. Why is it important to start working with a physiotherapist as soon as possible?
Counting on a child to grow out of postural issues can cause many problems because these issues are more likely to worsen rather than disappear. Of course, there are probably some physiological “defects,” such as flat feet in young children, that are not a cause for concern. However, by the age of 3-4, the foot should start to arch properly. If it does not, and we neglect the problem, it can result in various problems in the future. For example, flat feet can cause painful knee or back problems, because the feet create a support quadrilateral. A poorly shaped foot carries less weight and shock, which results in pain. If a child plays sports, it is even more important to visit a specialist because uncorrected postural issues can jeopardize their sports career.
Is a referral needed to see a pediatric physiotherapist?
A private physiotherapist does not require a referral, but it is important to bring along any test results and X-rays if available. If you do not have such images, the pediatric physiotherapist will ask you to visit your family doctor to obtain a referral. You should have the images taken and bring them to the next appointment.
Pediatric physiotherapy – what can parents look for and what problems can they notice?
Parents usually notice postural issues themselves. It is important to pay attention to any asymmetries, such as an uneven waistline, asymmetrical positioning of the head in relation to the sternum and shoulders. Feet are also significant. Parents may notice, for example, that the heels sink inward. While this may still be physiological in a preschooler, it may be cause for concern in an older child. The earlier we start working on correct posture, the more effective the therapy will be.
Can a pediatric physiotherapist help with hunching problems?
Hunching is a very common problem in children. It may turn out that the hours spent in a school desk force an incorrect position. Often, the child has improper habits resulting from poorly adjusted desk height or an undiagnosed vision problem. It is essential to note that hunching can be both the cause and the effect of a crooked spine. In both cases, a pediatric physiotherapist can help and work together with parents to teach the child correct posture. Another reason for hunching may be increased tension in the body, which could have arisen even during childbirth and gone unnoticed. Interestingly, it may also be the case that a child who has undergone appendix surgery will hunch more. The pediatric physiotherapist will check the tension and relieve it. The sooner this is done, the less chance there is of perpetuating incorrect habits.