Neurological Physiotherapy Principles

Neurological paediatric physiotherapists provide treatment for children aged between 0 and 18 years with neurological and developmental problems. Neurological conditions arise from damage to the central (brain and spinal cord) and /or peripheral nervous system. This can lead to difficulties with movement, muscle tone, strength, sensation and balance. Developmental problems can cause delays in the achievement of milestones.

Neurological paediatric conditions commonly treated by paediatric physiotherapists include:

Benefits of physiotherapy treatment include, normalising muscle tone, increasing range of movement, improving muscle strength and balance and coordination. Physiotherapy treatment will improve quality of life by enabling your child to reach developmental milestones (e.g. rolling, crawling and walking) and maximising their potential with daily tasks.

Neurological physiotherapists are experienced at assessing and treating babies and children with different neurological conditions. Neurological paediatric physiotherapists use a variety of treatment methods such as the Bobath, Carr and Shepherd, Conductive Education and the Brunnstrom approach.

During an initial assessment with a paediatric physiotherapist the physiotherapist will observe how your child moves. This assessment is normally performed with parents or guardians present. From this assessment an individualised treatment plan will be formulated.

Paediatric physiotherapy treatment may include a combination of hands on techniques and exercises. Advice and support will also be provided for parents and teachers to provide the best possible care.

Specialist paediatric neurological physiotherapy treatment will help:

  • Make movements easier to achieve
  • Train normal patterns of movement
  • Improve ability with everyday activities
  • Increase muscle strength
  • Increase range of movement
  • Improve gross or fine motor skills
  • Improve posture
  • Increase balance
  • Lengthen tight muscles to help decrease spasticity and reduce contractures
  • Increase confidence with tasks
  • Increase independence
  • Achieve maximum potential

Neurological paediatric physiotherapists will help babies and children by promoting physical development to reach milestones as soon as possible. Physiotherapy treatment may include:

  • Exercises based around everyday activities to increase muscle strength in the trunk and shoulders which will help improve balance and coordination
  • Stretching to lengthen muscles and reducing contractures
  • Leg exercises to increase mobility or learning to walk and stand without an aid
  • Correcting posture and positioning. For example, supporting your child in sitting to develop weight shifting, rotation, coordination and balance
  • Mirror imaging to increase your child's awareness of where their limbs are in space at rest and during movement (proprioception)
  • Advice about supportive devices such as using a wheelchair, orthotic devices or other adaptive equipment
  • Promoting involvement in new activities to increase independence and confidence and improve interaction with peers
  • Advice about botox. Tight muscle caused by increased tone may benefit from this type of treatment
  • Advice and support on how to continue exercises at home or in the classroom

Neurological paediatric rehabilitation is best provided by a specialist neurological physiotherapist. Physiotherapy will be both enjoyable and effective so that your child will reach their maximum physical potential and increase their independence with everyday tasks. Physiotherapists also work closely with occupational therapists who can provide additional treatment and equipment if necessary.

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