How Pediatric Physiotherapy Can Help Your Child

It can be worrying when your child is unwell, and even more so when you don’t quite know how to help them get better. One thing that you may not have considered for your child is physiotherapy.

When most people think of physio, they think of rehabilitation and working with patients to regain the ability to do something they could do before. That could be an athlete recovering from a sports injury or an elderly patient regaining their strength after a hospital stay. However, physiotherapy can also be an important part of pediatric care. As children are growing and developing, physiotherapy can help them to overcome health concerns and reach their full potential.

Physiotherapy can help children of all ages with a variety of issues, from injuries to developmental issues. While rehabilitation is one aspect of pediatric physiotherapy, it is not the only goal. Sometimes children need help learning new skills, such as how to walk or crawl, or even how to roll over for the first time. Other times, they may need assistance adapting to a disability.


The Benefits of Pediatric Physiotherapy

The list of benefits that pediatric physiotherapy can bring to your child is a long one…

Physiotherapy can play an important role in the lives of children with a wide range of conditions and ailments. Physio is recommended for growth or sports injuries to the bones, joints, muscles and ligaments. Physiotherapists can help to rehabilitate children after injuries, such as fractured bones and dislocated joints, or treatment following a concussion or whiplash.

In general, physio can help to improve your child’s strength, flexibility, movement, and range of motion. It can help children to develop better posture and movement patterns, and can improve their balance and coordination.

As any parent knows, sports and extracurricular activities are a great way for children to stay active and make new friends. However, parents may also start to notice their children complaining of pain in various parts of their body after starting these activities. This is totally normal, as children are often using muscles and joints in different ways than they’ve done before.

However, if the pain persists or starts to interfere with your child’s ability to enjoy their activity, it may be time to seek physio. Pediatric physiotherapists are experts in helping children manage pain, reduce swelling and regain strength and flexibility. Furthermore, it can help to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place by identifying and correcting underlying problems that could predispose your child to an injury.

Physiotherapy is for Everyone

Pediatric physiotherapy sessionFor people who are new to physiotherapy, they often wonder if they require a doctor’s referral. In short, the answer is no. Physiotherapists are considered primary health care practitioners in Ontario. Some private insurance companies require a medical referral to ensure your coverage, so it’s best to check with your insurance provider if you’re unsure.

Another common question we receive is “How often will the physiotherapist need to see my child?”


There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on your child’s circumstances, the type of injury or condition and their progress. Some injuries may only require a few visits, while other health conditions may take significant time to see meaningful progress. But we find that people who attend the recommended treatment sessions and follow the at-home care instructions from their physiotherapist typically recover the quickest.

By working with a physiotherapist, children can gain the skills and knowledge they need to manage their condition and live a full and active life. In short, physiotherapy can help your child to feel better, move better, and live better.

Physiotherapy for Developmental Delay

First, it’s important to remember that every child develops at their own pace. That said, we understand that developmental delays, and neurological and neuromuscular conditions can be frustrating for both children and their parents. As a parent, it can be difficult to watch your child struggle with physical tasks that other children seem to find easy.

Physio can be helpful for children who have developmental delays or are struggling with coordination or balance issues. With physio treatment, delays can often eventually disappear.

Physiotherapy is also used to treat neurological conditions in children such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida, and neuromuscular disorders such as muscular dystrophy. Common childhood orthopedic conditions like scoliosis and torticollis can also be treated.

With regular sessions, many children will see significant improvement over time. However, it’s important to keep in mind that physio is a process, not a miracle cure. Sometimes you can see noticeable improvement after just a few visits. For most conditions, results certainly will not be seen overnight. But with consistency and patience, many children are able to make tremendous progress.

With the right support, your child can reach their full potential.

What to Expect from a Physio Assessment & Treatment Plan

If you’re thinking about taking your child to see a physiotherapist, it’s important to know what to expect from the assessment and treatment process.

First, the physiotherapist will take a thorough medical history from you and perform a physical examination of your child in order to identify any areas that might benefit from physiotherapy intervention. This could include assessing your child’s movement patterns and how they are using their muscles, joints and bones in order to identify any areas of weakness or tightness.

Your physiotherapist will then develop a tailored treatment plan consisting of specific exercises and activities designed to address your child’s condition and individual needs. This may include exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and balance. It could also include stretches, massage or other manual therapy techniques to reduce pain and promote healing.

The number of sessions required will depend on the severity and complexity of your child’s condition. Physiotherapy machines may also play a role in your treatment

Finally, your physiotherapist will provide you with instructions on how often treatments should be performed and with guidance on how to support your child at home between appointments. Depending on the condition, they will likely include education on injury prevention and self-management strategies.

Pediatric Physio Requires a Different Approach

Children’s physiotherapy is different from adult physiotherapy. Not only are the techniques and exercises different, but also the overall approach. Whatever the need, pediatric physiotherapy should be tailored to the individual child. This means that treatment programs should be fun, engaging, playful and interactive.

Whereas most adult physiotherapy is focused on helping the patient recover and regain functional movement, the emphasis for children’s physiotherapy is often on helping the child feel comfortable with their body and movement. This difference in approach ensures that children not only benefit physically from physiotherapy, but also emotionally and mentally by gaining confidence and encouragement from their progress.

Physio Can Be Fun

Pediatric physiotherapist working with a young boy

One of the best things about physiotherapy is that it doesn’t have to be boring! Introducing games into physiotherapy sessions can make them much more fun and engaging for kids is key. That’s because kids are much more likely to participate if they’re having a good time. Games can also help to distract children (and for that matter, most adults as well) from treatments that can sometimes be uncomfortable or monotonous, helping to motivate them to keep going.

There are many different types of games that can be used in physiotherapy, from simple ball games to more complex movement-based games. Games can also be tailored to meet specific physiotherapy goals, such as increasing range of motion or improving balance. Tasks and movements can be gamified so that kids are encouraged to compete — with themselves or others — to add another element of fun.

Video Games & Physiotherapy

Most people think of video games as a way to relax and play. But for children undergoing physiotherapy, gaming can be an important part of their rehabilitation. Active video games are increasingly being recognized as a valuable tool for physiotherapy, especially for children. When used as part of a physiotherapy program, active video games can help improve balance, coordination, and other movement skills. They can also be helpful for rehabilitation after an injury or surgery,

Repetition, intensity and task-oriented training are essential for supporting a child’s recovery, and gaming offers a great way to achieve all three. Plus, the immersive experience can provide a much-needed distraction from the reality of their situation. Ultimately, games can help to make physio more enjoyable for your child, rather than something that has to be endured. The more fun and engaging we can make it, the more likely it is that they will stick with their treatment plan.

When children are engrossed in a game, they often don’t even realise how much effort they’re putting in. As a result, they’re able to perform more repetitions and work harder than they would if they were just going through the motions. And that can make all the difference in a child’s rehabilitation.

Finding the Right Physiotherapist for Your Child

At Elysian Wellness Centre, our skilled and experienced physiotherapists work with people of all ages. We have extensive experience with pediatric physiotherapy and we are dedicated to providing the highest quality of care possible.

We understand the importance of keeping children active and mobile, and we strive to provide treatments that are both effective, engaging and age-appropriate. Physiotherapy can bring many benefits to children of all ages — from improved movement and strength, to relief from pain and prevention of injuries.

If you think your child could benefit from physio, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us today for a free consultation. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment. We look forward to meeting you!

Johanne Gordon - Registered Physiotherapist

Johanne is an experienced, fluently bilingual physiotherapist who graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in physiotherapy with magna cum laude honours from the University of Ottawa.

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