When it comes to our children, there is nothing we won’t do to help them live the best lives possible. As challenging as this is in healthy children who are developing normally, it is even more important for children with special needs. However, trying on your own to teach a child with special needs to walk sometimes seems impossible. Fortunately, pediatric therapy performed by a physical therapist can help your child walk better. Call Oceanside Therapy Group in Oceanside, CA today to find out how physical therapy can make a difference for your child.
Leg Strength Is Just the Beginning
When you think about walking, you automatically think about your legs. In order to take a step, you need to have a certain amount of strength in your calf muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. However, your legs are only the starting point for the muscles involved in keeping you balanced, upright and mobile. To maintain a walking posture, you also need strength in your pelvic floor, back, abdomen and to a certain extent, your arms. In other words, you need a certain amount of total body strength in order to take a single step. If your child’s muscle development is slowed in any one of these areas, walking is difficult or even impossible. Fortunately, a physical therapist who specializes in pediatric therapy is an expert in movement. They can assess your child’s current level of strength, as well as areas they need to improve. Through physical therapy, your child can gain the strength they need to make walking easier.
Physical Therapy Can Improve Balance
Many kids with special needs have the strength they need to walk but lack the balance. Unfortunately, helping a child improve their balance is not as simple as it may sound. Balance is actually a complex system where the body makes millions of adjustments to your posture all day based on feedback your brain receives. Some of these adjustments are predictive, others are reactive. Predictive adjustments happen all of the time when you walk uphill, see a rock in your path, step over a toy on the floor, or walk upstairs. Reactive adjustments happen when you unexpectedly trip, step on a building block, find an uneven spot in the grass or catch the edge of your bed with your toe. Both are vital in maintaining your balance when you walk. Fortunately, physical therapy can help your child learn how to make adjustments that keep them upright as they walk.
Physical therapy is just as much about gaining confidence as it is about improving a child’s ability to walk. As your child gains the strength they need to walk, they become more confident in their ability. As they gain confidence in their balance, they are more likely to try new physical activities like running, jumping, playing or climbing. But most importantly, pediatric therapy gives your child confidence that they can create difficult goals and achieve them through hard work. A physical therapist is an expert at setting lofty but attainable goals. They are then able to break that goal down into measurable and achievable targets. As your child meets these targets, then surpasses them on the road to the big overarching goal, they gain confidence in their ability to do hard things. Sure, physical therapy is aimed at helping your child walk better, but working with a physical therapist can also help your child live better.
The ability to walk is a skill we often take for granted. For parents of children with special needs, working with a physical therapist can help your child gain this skill and the confidence that goes along with it. Contact us today to see how physical therapy can help your child walk better.