Starfish Therapies

October 1, 2017

10 Things You Didn’t Know A Pediatric PT Can Help With

In honor of October being Physical Therapy Month, we wanted to share a list of things that you may not realize a pediatric physical therapist can help your child with. If any of these resonate with you, call your local pediatric physical therapist to ask questions. Happy Physical Therapy Month!

  1. Yes we work with BABIES! Pediatric PT treats newborns for things like torticollis, plagiocephaly, and delayed achievement of milestones.
  2. Yes we facilitate BREASTFEEDING! Pediatric PT can help you and your baby with the following things: positioning, range of motion and mobility for access (latching), relaxation, and proper trunk and pelvic stability.
  3. Yes we support POSTURE and ERGONOMICS! Pediatric PT can analyze and teach both you (lifting safety) and your child (posture, backpacks, handwriting, and more).
  4. Yes we address challenges related to TOILETING and BEDWETTING! Pediatric PT works with your child to strengthen the pelvic floor, develop routines, and educate in all areas that affect toileting.
  5. Yes we provide NUTRITION SCREENING! Pediatric PT does nutritional screening to promote health and wellness, address obesity, and enhance rehabilitation.
  6. Yes we address CONCUSSIONS! Pediatric PT performs pre- and post-concussion screens including subsequent vestibular rehabilitation.
  7. Yes we analyze FOOTWEAR! Pediatric PT assesses proper fit and function of shoes for sports, everyday use, and even picking out their first pair.
  8. Yes we facilitate development of COORDINATED PLAY SKILLS! Pediatric PT helps your child keep up with their peers by working on body awareness and coordination for skills such as bike riding, monkey bars, skipping, jumping jacks, and more.
  9. Yes we support YOUTH ATHLETES! Pediatric PT not only treats injuries but prevents them through running and movement analyses, and performance enhancement training.
  10. Yes we perform GROSS MOTOR CHECK-UPS! Pediatric PT helps ensure your child is on track with their gross motor skills by recommending annual check-ups just like you go to the dentist every 6 months.


February 21, 2013

Ideas for Torticollis

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 12:00 pm
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Torticollis can affect almost any child.  It is caused by a tight muscle called the sternocleidomastoid.  Often this can happen as a result of positioning in the womb or as a result of a child spending too much time in one position and developing plagiocephaly.  There are other reasons but these are two common ones.

It is highly recommended that you see a doctor and/or a physical therapist to make sure there are no other underlying causes for the torticollis but often the way to help with its improvement involves stretching, strengthening and functional retraining (not as scary as it sounds).

For stretching you want to be really gentle.  Whatever direction your child holds their head, you would want to gently stretch in the opposite direction.  For example, if your child prefers to look to the left and tilt their head to the right you would gently try to bring their left ear towards their left shoulder while keeping their eyes looking straight up (i.e. their head is not turned to the left or right).  You would also try to turn their head to right while keeping their body straight (don’t let their shoulders follow them).  I’m sure you can imagine that kids may not enjoy this (although it is a little easier when they are tiny) so you may want to have something they enjoy looking at in the direction you are stretching them.  You want to distract them from what you are doing.

I have also worked on strengthening by using a therapy ball.  I love to use a therapy ball for tummy time (which is important to work on with you child).  By using the ball you can move it so that your child has to use different muscles in their neck.  Their head will automatically want to right itself in the middle (prolonged torticollis can affect this ability which is why you want them to get lots of exposure to different positions).  So for the same example we were talking about above you would want to move the ball (while stabilizing your child on it) so that they have to lift their head to the left.  You can also have something really engaging to the right so they will turn their head to look at it while they are on their belly.  Don’t put it too far off to the right but just slightly so that they have success.  In the beginning only have them practice moving their head in these directions.  As they get stronger you can have them hold it for longer periods of time.

Functional retraining (my definition for this post) is to encourage your child to actively engage in looking and moving in the direction opposite of their torticollis.  So, if you normally sit on one side of them or hold them on one specific side then hold them on your other side.  If you have them sleep with their head at one end of their crib, switch it so they are lying at the other end.  By changing their positioning they will have to use different muscles to look at things and not get ‘stuck’ in the same pattern.


December 8, 2010

Torticollis: What Is It?

I have recently had several friends or friends of friends ask about their child who doesn’t like to look in one direction and is developing a flat spot on the back or side of their head. This is generally a sign of torticollis. Torticollis is when your baby’s neck gets tight (similar to how you get tight hamstrings) and they prefer to look to one side more than the other. In addition they usually like to tilt their head to the opposite side of where they like to look. For instance if they prefer looking to the left they usually like to bend to the right. Generally the muscle that is tight is the sternocleidomastoid and can easily be stretched, especially if you catch it quickly and modify your and your baby’s habits to encourage movement in the opposite direction.

In the past torticollis was generally something a baby got as a result of how they were positioned in the womb. These days I am seeing older babies develop it and there could be a few reasons for that.

I think with the Back to Sleep program babies are spending more and more time on their backs and less time on their tummies.  The back of babies heads are still soft and malleable so if they have a preference for sleeping (i.e. tend to keep their head turned to one side) it can encourage a flatter spot on the back of their head as well as encourage them to keep their head turned only to that side.  On top of that babies are spending more time in car seats and carriers which continues to encourage pressure on the back of their head.  Making sure your child is getting enough Tummy Time can help with this.

Also,  as parents its easy to develop habits such as always carrying your child on the same side, or having a preferential feeding side.  This can all encourage turning their head more to one side.  I know it isn’t easy but break up your habits and carry your child on the opposite side or change where they normally sit when you interact with them.  Maybe even move their crib to the other wall or put them in the crib with their head facing the other way.

If you catch torticollis early and get a referral to a pediatric PT they can show you some simple exercises to do with your child as well as ways to alter your routine to encourage them to actively move their head in the other direction!

You can download an informational handout on this topic here!


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