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What is developmental delay?

Developmental delay is when a child does not progress through their developmental milestones such as learning to sit, crawl, walk or talk, at an expected age.

What causes developmental delay?

There is not known what exactly causes developmental delay. There can be many different factors such as genetic problems, problems during pregnancy or birth, and problems during early infancy or childhood such as infection or head injury that may cause developmental delay.

Using play to engage children in functional exercise and improve physical abilityAbove: Using play to engage children in functional exercise and improve physical ability

What are the symptoms of developmental delay?

The symptoms of developmental delay include disturbances in physical development, behaviour, vision, speech and hearing. Some common signs include:

Physiotherapy for developmental delay

A child with developmental delay will benefit from specialist paediatric physiotherapy.

Paediatric physiotherapy at involves assessing your child's movement, strength and stage of development, in order to devise a structured treatment program to progress gross and fine motor skills and increase functional independence.

Physiotherapy treatment for developmental delay should be started as early as possible for the best possible outcome.

Your childs treatment plan at will incorporate family, carers and teachers so that milestones are reached and significant long term improvement are achieved.

At, physiotherapy treatment may include:
  • Exercises using games and toys to increase strength around the trunk to improve balance and coordination.
  • Passive and active stretching to increase range of movement and prevent muscles and joints from becoming stiff.
  • Activities to improve head and trunk control. For example, supporting your child in sitting to develop weight shifting, rotation, coordination and balance. Mirror imaging is often used to increase their awareness of where their limbs are in space (proprioception)
  • Exercises to increase independence with every day activities at home or at school. Physiotherapy may involve exercises for the hand to improve writing and grasping objects.
  • Advice about supportive devices such as using a wheelchair, orthotic devices or other adaptive equipment if necessary.
  • Hydrotherapy treatment to strengthen and stretch muscles and maximise mobility in water.
Your physiotherapist will set short and long term rehabilitation goals at the centre of your child’s rehabilitation so that they reach milestones are reached.

Paediatric physiotherapist using play activities to improve functional abilityAbove: Paediatric physiotherapist using play activities to improve functional ability

Physiotherapy treatment will improve your child’s physical function by using a variety of activities that are fun and stimulating as well as effective.

For more information on physiotherapy for developmental delay, or to book an appointment please call 0330 088 7800, or book online today!

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