Is my child limping when they walk? They look like they struggle to keep up with their peers, is something wrong? My child is clumsy, is that normal? When it comes to children, it is always hard as a parent to decide when to come seek advice and treatment. It can be hard to know whether what you are seeing are part of normal development or if there is an actual problem. If there is a problem, is it best to wait or do you seek treatment early on? These are all common questions. What we have seen, is that the best time to seek advice is now. Early treatment is more effective and beneficial than waiting to seek advice.
So, where do I start?
This first question to address is whether there is actually an issue present or is this just normal development for your child. There is reputable information available online about stages of development such as https://raisingchildren.net.au/ or https://pathways.org/about/ or https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/kidsfamilies/MCFhealth/child/Pages/development.aspx. However, if you are still uncertain you can always request an assessment as our team are skilled at identifying whether there is a problem or if your child is still within typical development.
Why is it so important to seek treatment early on?
Early treatment is better for three reasons. Firstly, when considering the growing body: a lot can change in a short period of time. Children go through a massive amount of development, growth and change during their early years. Many of the skills they develop assist them to develop more skills as they get older. If they encounter a road block with one skill it can hinder their ability to build skills later on. Difficulty balancing on one leg, makes it tricky to run, skip, hop and jump.
Secondly, a child’s musculoskeletal system is soft and not fully developed when they are born. When born, the skeletal system consists of bone and cartilage with growth plates. As a child gets older their bones become harder and growth plates eventually disappear. This means that their skeletal system can be moulded as they grow. There is a window of opportunity to create change in the musculoskeletal system. If we wait too long, that window closes and it is much more difficult to correct some musculoskeletal issues. For example, a young child’s feet goes through a number of changes as a child learns to stand, walk and run. Physiotherapy intervention during these early years can assist a child to develop feet with a good arch and biomechanics that can assist their walking pattern to be more efficient and stable. This can help foster more demanding physical skills such as running, jumping, and agility activities.
How can a physio help?
The other aspect to keep in mind is children are immersed in a social world. Young children are learning new things all the time throughout the day. They are explorers and are willing to try new skills and activities. However, they also have the capacity to learn that they can’t do certain skills. Particularly, if they can see their peers doing something that they find difficult to complete. This can cause them to lose faith in themselves and have a less confidence to try new skills. This provides an additional challenge to overcome. Not only are you working on teaching them a difficult physical skill but you have to convince the child that they have the capability to learn. Our therapist frequently teach through play and cater for your child’s developmental stage and cognitive understanding. This can help overcome difficulties with confidence and it is also known that children learn best through play particularly when they are under the age of 5.
To conclude, as children are always growing and learning new skills all the time. It is better to address any issues early on, so they do not hinder future skills and to use the child’s growth to our advantage. Our physiotherapist are skilled at assessing where at a child is at and providing expert advice to get them back on track and doing what they love.