Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) occurs in approximately 1 in 10 Australian children. Children with the disorder have delays in gross and fine motor skills and poor balance. These movement problems can affect the child’s education and performance of everyday tasks. Paediatric physiotherapists design treatments that are individualised to meet the child’s goals and specific problems.
Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is the term used to describe the condition where the femoral head (ball) has an abnormal relationship to the acetabulum (socket). This can range from a severe dislocated hip where the ball is not in contact with the socket; to a stable hip with a shallow acetabulum (socket). Good hips to start out life are very important. If the hip joints have not developed properly when a baby takes its first steps, the scenario may be set for hip troubles later in life.
Some children will have an abnormal gait at some stage of their development. While some issues get better with age, others may be improved with exercises given by a paediatric physiotherapist or more occassionaly serious medical attention, such as an operation. An assessment by a health professional with experience in paediatrics, such as a GP or paediatric physiotherapist, can help determine the best form of treatment.
Gross motor development involves learning the motor skills that allow an infant to move and explore their environment. This includes developing motor skills such as reaching for toys, rolling, sitting, crawling and walking. Young children will then add to these skills by improving their balance, learning how to run, jump, climb and participate in many aspects of life.
Idiopathic toe walking (ITW) is a term used to describe children who walk on their toes with no known cause. A thorough assessment is important to determine if the toe walking is a sign of a condition of concern. ITW resolves by itself in most children, however, it can result in issues such as leg and foot pain and falls. Treatment by a physiotherapist can help to address and prevent these issues, as well as maintain flexibility in the muscles and reduce toe walking.
‘Plagiocephaly’ is a term for a misshapen head in infants. This occurs in approximately 20 per cent of infants at seven weeks of age. Plagiocephaly occurs because babies’ heads are very soft, and flat spots can happen when they spend long periods of time with their heads resting in the same position. This is usually managed with repositioning and plenty of supervised awake ‘tummy time’. While plagiocephaly does not affect babies’ development, it can alter the appearance of their face and head. It is important to seek the advice of your GP, maternal and child health nurse (M&CHN) or paediatric physiotherapist to rule out any other causes.
Infant foot deformities are one of the most common deformities in babies and are found in almost five per cent of all newborns. Many foot deformities improve without treatment, however, some may require further intervention.
Neurological conditions are conditions that affect the brain, nerves and muscles. In children, they cover a wide range of diseases and disorders affecting the developing brain of the unborn or newborn child, traumatic and acquired brain injury in children and adolescents, and degenerative disorders that become apparent in childhood when gross motor milestones are not met or there is regression in already developed skills. Some of these conditions are relatively common, others are very rare. Some more commonly known conditions include cerebral palsy (CP); neuromuscular conditions, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA); developmental coordination disorder (DCD), and acquired brain injury (ABI).
Torticollis is a term used for a ‘twisted neck’ or ‘turned head’. It can occur for several reasons, and results in the baby holding their head in a tilted and turned position. Torticollis should be managed with your paediatric physiotherapist who will give you exercises to complete at home, and to monitor your progress.