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Metabolic disorders are conditions that affect the metabolic system. The metabolic system is where food and drink is converted into simple components and energy. Disorders of the metabolic system change the chemical processes in the body resulting in a wide range of symptoms. Physiotherapy can help to control your child’s symptoms and reduce the risk of developing secondary complications as a result of uncontrolled metabolic disorder.

Causes of metabolic disorders

Metabolic disorders can be inherited from your parent’s genes or they can be acquired as an adult. Other medical conditions such as alcohol abuse, gout, kidney failure, pneumonia and sepsis can cause metabolic disorders. A family history of a genetic metabolic disorder or HIV/AIDS increases the risk of developing a metabolic disorder.

Types of metabolic disorder

Examples of metabolic disorders include diabetes, hereditary fructose intolerance, Gaucher’s disease, Niemann-Pick disease, Tay-Sachs disease and phenylketonuria.

Progressive strengthening and balance exercises to develop functional mobility, led by a paediatric physiotherapistAbove: Progressive strengthening and balance exercises to develop functional mobility, led by a paediatric physiotherapist

Symptoms of metabolic disorder

The symptoms of metabolic disorder vary dependant on the type and the individual. As a result of an inherited metabolic disorder your child may experience a developmental delay both physically and cognitively. They may have difficulty thinking, speaking, writing and reading. This can make it very difficult for your child to communicate and learn. Children with metabolic disorders can have muscle weakness, twitching and spasms that can be minimised with appropriate physiotherapy treatment. Secondary to this condition, your child has an increased risk of infections and of thinning of the bones. It is essential that your child with a metabolic disorder receives holistic therapy from a multi-disciplinary team of specialists.

Treatment for metabolic disorders

Treatment for metabolic disorders begins by addressing the imbalance in chemicals in the body due to the disorder. Treatment options for your child include medication, vitamin and mineral supplements, counselling, dietary advice, surgery and physiotherapy.

Physiotherapy for metabolic disorders

Without medical treatment, metabolic disorders can potentially cause secondary complications such as organ failure, seizures, tremors and unconsciousness. It is important that your child maintains a healthy lifestyle with as much regular exercise as possible to avoid secondary problems. Following a thorough assessment, formulation of problem list and discussion of goals, a physiotherapy treatment plan may focus on:
  • Monitoring of symptoms during exercise
  • Promotion of cardiovascular exercise into daily routine
  • Practice of moving around, transferring, walking, running
  • Balance and co-ordination activities
  • Core stability and muscle strength
  • Stretches and positioning
  • Assessment on use of walking aids, adaptations and equipment
Your child will be assessed by a specialist physiotherapist carrying out a variety of functional activities such as crawling, sitting, standing, walking, running and climbing stairs depending on their age and level of mobility. Your physiotherapist will provide expert advice and appropriate equipment to enable your child to move around safely and efficiently.

An exercise plan will be provided for you to carry out at home on a regular basis with your child. The exercises will be dependent on the findings of the assessment and will be different for every child. Exercises for children with metabolic disorder may focus on fitness, muscle strength, balance, core stability and co-ordination. The exercises and treatment sessions will be fun but challenging in order to motivate your child and encourage participation and progress. Your child’s improvement will be monitored using a series of informal tests that will be repeated regularly to objectively demonstrate the benefits of physiotherapy. The benefits of physiotherapy are:
  • Decreased risk of secondary complications
  • Increased exercise tolerance and fitness
  • Increased core stability, balance and strength
  • Increased ability to move around and walk
  • Increased independence and ability to carry out daily tasks
  • Daily exercise as normal part of life
  • Learn exercises to do at home in your own time
Advice and education is an essential part of the role of the physiotherapist as it is important that your child understands how to effectively manage the symptoms of metabolic disorder. Training and education can be provided to your child’s teachers, relatives or carers regarding the effects of metabolic disorder on your child or how to use equipment and aids.

Why for metabolic disorders

At we understand that your child will have problems and difficulties due to the metabolic disorder. Our specialist physiotherapists are able to provide effective treatment and advice in order to ensure your child achieves and maintains the highest possible standard of living.
  • Knowledgeable physiotherapists with experience with metabolic disorders
  • Regular liaison with other health professionals involved in individuals care
  • Treatment at any stage of your condition
  • Treatment at home, in the clinic or gym
  • Provision of aids, equipment and adaptations
  • Provision of home exercise program
  • Access to occupational therapy
  • Access to specialist gymnasium
Regular physiotherapy sessions will increase your child’s knowledge of metabolic disorder, confidence and ability to control the symptoms of the condition. With good control of the symptoms, the effects are minimised and your child will be able to lead an active, rewarding life. To book an appointment or discuss your child’s needs with a specialist physiotherapist, please contact us now on 0330 088 7800, or alternatively book an appointment online

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