Everyone Needs a Physical Therapist – Our Children
Millions of children who appear clumsy may be suffering from Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Often referred to as clumsy child syndrome, it’s a serious and chronic neurological disorder that occurs when the brain doesn’t accurately relay messages to the body. The condition affects multiple areas of development, coordination and continues into adulthood.
Children afflicted with DCD may trip over their own feet and drop things. They may walk with an unsteady gait and run into other children unintentionally. Children with DCD can be slow to crawl, stand and walk and have difficulty swallowing during their first year. Gross and fine motor skills are affected. The condition can co-exist with learning and communication disorders, along with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Children with DCD must deal with the physical effects of the condition. They may also experience memory difficulties. Faced with large amounts of sensory stimulation they can become overwhelmed and have a panic attack. Approximately 5 percent of children are affected and the condition is more prevalent in boys than girls. Children typically suffer from feelings of inadequacy and have low self-esteem.
DCD significantly impacts a child’s ability to learn and perform everyday activities that others may take for granted. Many parents fail to seek intervention in the belief that the child “will grow out of it”. Most youngsters are diagnosed between the ages of 6 and 12. Early diagnostic assessments are essential, enabling children to begin receiving the necessary assistance they need. How well a child responds to treatment depends on the severity of the disorder.
Physical Therapy Aids in Control and Stability
Children with DCD often have hyper mobile joints, which makes controlling movements more difficult. Physical therapy techniques and interventions are available to assist individuals with better control of movement, motor skills and stability. They include:
Manual Therapy – The use of touch to help patients concentrate and gain awareness of the muscles used for specific movements.
Aquatic Therapy – Water provides a supportive medium in which patients can improve motor skills. It relieves weight on muscles and joints, making it easier to perform specific movements.
Occupational Therapy – This type of intervention focuses on methods that can be employed to modify the environment and the way tasks are completed. The therapies used are individualized to meet the patient’s individual needs and requirements for everyday living.
Clinical Pilates – The movements of Clinical Pilates helps individuals build muscle strength, coordination and balance. Depending upon the patient, therapists may employ specialized equipment to perform specific movements and increase body awareness.
Exercise Programs – Therapists can develop an individualized exercise program for home use in between office visits. Fun and game-based activities provide ways to continue development within a system that builds confidence, self-esteem and encourages physical activity.
Adaptations – Physical therapists are knowledgeable about adaptations that enable children with DCD learn and perform tasks that other children typically do, such as riding a bike. Therapists work with parents and schools to make appropriate accommodations for an optimal learning experience.
Improving Quality of Life
Children with DCD experience difficulty with basic mobility skills and activities that significantly affects their quality of life. Physical therapy options offer the means to obtain better control over gross and fine motors skills and movement. Being able to move properly and appropriately is essential for safety and achieving a level of self-sufficiency.
Physical therapy provides the techniques and strategies to help children and adults with DCD. We can help with comprehensive assessments, multiple therapeutic methods and adaptations. We work with physicians, families and educational personnel to improve quality of life for individuals throughout their entire lifetime.
If you know a child that may suffer from DCD, has difficulty performing tasks that other children can do with ease or seems extremely clumsy, call our office today. We will provide you with the information and education needed to understand your child’s condition and make informed decisions. We can help your child improve their abilities and build self-confidence.