What's a baby got to be tense about? (How does PT help?)
So now that you understand some of the common things that parents and practitioners notice in infants that might be cause for PT eval or intervention, let's talk about what that intervention might entail.
As I stated in the previous article, my approach is, and has always been, to empower clients to understand what's happening and to teach them how to manage it. So, while terms like "neuromuscular dysfunction" or "range of motion restrictions or asymmetry" might sound like a lot of complicated stuff, in my view, it's important for parents to understand because you are the ones advocating to your peds or other providers on the need for treatment to address it. So, it's important for me as a therapist to utilize and teach you terminology that is recognizable to other healthcare providers. Therefore, a large part of my treatment involves patient education and instruction. I try and provide descriptions and education for better communication for all involved in the care plan, utilize evidence-based practices as often as possible, and instruct clients in how to manage therapeutic treatments in a hands-on manner on their own.
There is plenty you can do to help maximize the outcomes of therapy, and you can do as much as you're comfortable with. This is PT that meets you where you're at!
Pediatric PT often looks a lot like playing with kids and babies, and that is because that is the JOB of every child: play. Children learn through play in every way: socially, motorically, neurologically... Babies take in and learn about their environments through all of their senses, and a big way that's done is through movement. Pediatric PTs can help you understand how a baby's movements and positions help them along on their developmental journey, and how you can facilitate that through playing and interacting with your babe.
UNlearning some of the 'norms'
Just take a look at any baby store and you will find a dizzying array of STUFF to put your baby in. Seats, swings, bouncers, standers, walkers... there are endless options. Container Baby Syndrome is a term to describe some of the common signs discussed in the previous article: delayed motor development due to restricted range of motion, difficulty for baby in self-regulating, changes in head shape, etc. Baby container use is absolutely necessary at times, but I encourage you to look around and consider whether you really *need* every one of those devices? Could you save yourself some money and space in your home and eliminate the use of one or two? (Or, leave them off the registry entirely and instead, check out my list of 5 unconventional new mama gifts!) Basically, using containers, while completely necessary in order for you to get things done and keep baby safe, when excessive, leads to fewer opportunities for those learning-through-play experiences I described above.
Physical therapists often utilize skilled manual therapy techniques to influence tissues and joints. We know how to touch muscles to get them to turn on or off, we know how to handle bodies to help their owners understand how to move in certain ways, and we can influence joint range of motion and access the nervous system through the use of our hands.
If you've dove (dived? diven? doven?) into the world of tethered oral tissues (tongue tie, lip tie), you've likely hard the term 'bodywork' to describe some of the hands-on treatment options for infants. This term just refers to what I described above, but how that is achieved will vary across disciplines.
The important thing I want you to take away from this is that there are PLENTY of ways parents can learn how to do this themselves. As your therapist, I'll teach you how to handle and touch your baby to get the most out of therapeutic encounters and reduce the amount of therapist interaction and maximize parent-baby interaction. Some parents don't want the added responsibility of the home program and want more regular therapy interventions, and that is okay, too! In my view, you're the one who lives with and cares for baby 24/7. There is plenty you can do to help maximize the outcomes of therapy, and you can do as much as you're comfortable with. This is PT that meets you where you're at!
If this sounds right for you and your family, click below to get started now!