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What is Paediatric Physiotherapy?

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

As I dip my little clinical toe into the online world of blogging, I wanted to start first by introducing myself so you can visualise the person behind these (hopefully legendary novelist style) words... so here goes!



My name is Chloë and I'm a Paediatric Physiotherapist based in the Ribble Valley in Lancashire. I am 30 years old (which I'm still not okay with as my crows feet have started coming in and I now moan about the weather more than I care to admit) and I have 2 children, Evie (8) and Noah (5). I first became interested in Paediatrics back in 2011 when I was studying at the University of Liverpool and was thrust into a Paediatric neuro placement for 2 weeks; I didn't have the foggiest what Physiotherapy in Paeds really entailed, much to my educators dismay I have no doubt! But there I was sat in the land of the smalls amongst garish, brightly coloured therapy equipment and questionable cartoon paintings on the wall (whose eyes just never seem to look quite right...), wondering "What even is Paediatric Physio and what could kids possibly need Physiotherapy for?"


As it turns out, LOTS!


"But wait Chloë, that makes no sense - these children haven't been tarnished by life yet or had the chance to make crazy, death-defying choices like us adults!" I hear you cry, but get comfy and I'll explain all!



So we've all been there. You're in GP's office because you have concerns about your child, and they start throwing out long Latin words at you, and you don't know whether they're casually reciting something from Lord of the Rings, attempting to summon up spirits or reading a pot plant sign from the local garden centre, but either way it makes no sense!


*Enter Chloë*




As you've all probably guessed by this point, the term "Paediatric" simply means "relating to the medical care of children", and "Paediatric Physiotherapy" is just a fancier way of saying Children's Physiotherapy with a Latin twist - makes one's LinkedIn sound somewhat more impressive though!


Paediatric Physiotherapy is the care and treatment of babies, children and adolescents from birth to 19 years, and the reason children are best cared for specifically by a Paeds Physiotherapist (rather than using the same Physio you used for your runners knee or your partner's bad back) is because Paeds Physiotherapists have to have an expert level of knowledge regarding child development and childhood conditions - contrary to popular belief, kids are not just mini adults! Among the general Physiotherapy world though, Paediatric Physios are a bit of a rare breed, but you can find us in lots of different settings including hospitals, the community and in private practice.


Here are a list of some of the conditions a Paediatric Physiotherapist could treat - some are similar to adults and some are childhood specific:

  • Acute injuries e.g. fractures, sports injuries

  • Burns and plastics

  • Childhood cancers

  • Congenital disorders e.g. Spina Bifida, limb deficiencies

  • Co-ordination difficulties

  • Developmental delay

  • Learning difficulties

  • Neonatal care

  • Neuromuscular disorders e.g. Muscular Dystrophy

  • Neurological conditions e.g. Cerebral Palsy, Head Injury, Spinal Cord Injury

  • Orthopaedic conditions e.g. Talipes, Torticollis, Plagiocephaly

  • Respiratory conditions e.g. Asthma, Cystic Fibrosis

  • Rheumatological conditions e.g. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

In addition to the above conditions, Paeds Physiotherapists also have to be communicational wizards - simultaneously switching between eyeballing your 6 month old with an open mouth and talking gibberish, to engaging their older sibling with chats about Pokémon cards, Roblox and Minecraft, to having a detailed clinical conversation about reflex presentations, muscle tone and underlying neurology with parents is no easy feat!


Paeds Physiotherapists understand that not only are they treating the child, but they're also "treating" the parents by providing them with the tools and confidence to manage their child's presentation/condition at home solo - it's scary going out into the wilderness on your own, I've been there myself (but more on that later). They have to know how to engage children of all different ages bearing in mind that a child's main prerogative is to have fun, meaning if your sessions are no fun then you're no fun, and you're DEFINITELY not going to be receiving a Christmas card from them anytime soon. A child has to feel as though they're playing games first and attending rehab second, otherwise you'll be left out there with the crickets on the receiving end of a face like this...




Nobody wants that!!


There's a neat way to find a Paediatric Physio in the UK (no obligations here, it doesn't have to be us!). The vast majority of Paeds Physios work in the NHS, and your GP can advise you on their local services, however if you wish to find an independent or private Physio for your child you can use the Find a Children's Physiotherapist link on the APCP website (Association of Paediatric Chartered Physiotherapists).


If you've had a read of this article and feel like you've found your Physio kindred spirit, and you'd like to book your child in for an assessment then contact us on 07519354998, via email at info@ribblevalleychildrensphysio.co.uk or via our contact us form on the website. If you're not sure whether your child would benefit from Physio but would love to have a chat to find out, please feel free to use the contact details above.


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