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What is Physiotherapy?

The goal of paediatric Physiotherapy is to improve the performance of gross motor skills. These generally involve larger movements involving more than 1 area of the body, e.g. walking, running, throwing, catching, negotiating stairs or playground equipment. Physiotherapy assists children with physical, developmental or neurological disabilities, musculoskeletal problems or cardiopulmonary diagnoses. Their main emphasis is on impairments of movement that leads to functional limitations. Therapists encourage children to move to the best of their abilities through play and age appropriate fun and instruction.

Strong foundations involving coordination, balance, posture, strength endurance and motor planning must be in place in order to improve gross motor skills. Sensory issues are also important as well as engagement as they affect they overall physical therapy plan.

The paediatric physiotherapist can be both a guide and support. They give advice on how to include play and other exercises into a child's daily life, aiming to facilitate progress toward gross motor milestones with optimal movement quality. They also offer suggestions on appropriate footwear, toys, home and school furniture and where necessary special equipment.

Physiotherapists work closely with families, carers, teachers, doctors and other health professionals. The approach is holistic and practical, with an emphasis on gross motor function and posture. Advice and assistance can be provided via:
  • Developmental therapy designed to facilitate progress toward gross motor milestones with optimal movement quality, posture and balance.

  • Active or resistive exercise to increase muscle strength; may use manual resistance, free weights.

  • Passive or active exercise to maintain or increase range of motion.

  • Design and/or arrange the provision of orthotics supports, braces or casts for positioning or functional activity.

  • Advise on wheelchair, seating and mobility equipment

  • Classroom equipment to optimise student performance

  • Aerobic exercises to improve physical skills, range of movement, muscle tone enhancement or cardiovascular endurance.

  • Training in functional skills such as bed mobility and transfers.

  • Breathing exercises to improve use of respiratory muscles

  • Aquatic therapy for increasing flexibility and strength, decreasing pain and ambulating in a partial weight-bearing environment.