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Why is Toe Walking Bad?

Idiopathic toe walking is a type of walking pattern that occurs when children walk on their tip-toes instead of using the more “typical” heel first pattern. Idiopathic is a term that refers to the fact that this toe walking occurs spontaneously, usually out of habit, and is not due to another medical cause. blog-toe walking-main-landscape

A non-idiopathic cause may be cerebral palsy, autism, sensory processing disorder, muscular dystrophy or brain injury. As children learn to walk, some toe walking is to be expected. When this becomes a strong habit that they do not grow out of, or the predominant pattern as they are new walkers, then several issues can arise.

The following are negative consequences of toe walking:

  • Tight ankles or contractures can develop
  • Poor balance reactions, frequent falling
  • Muscle imbalances “up the chain” meaning decreased hip or core strength due to the different postural alignment
  • Difficulty with body mechanics including squatting or performing stairs, secondary to tight calve muscles
  • Inability to stand with heels flat on the ground
  • Pain in ankles, knees or hips due to faulty mechanics
  • Surgery, casting, night splinting or daily bracing may be necessary

While some toe walking should not be alarming, the earlier you intervene, the better. Discuss this with your pediatrician or see a physical therapist who can provide early strategies to stop the cascade of effects that can be seen later.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Are Premature Babies Delayed?

The term premature refers to any infant that was born earlier than 37 weeks of gestation. Premature births occur in 10% of all live births. Premature babies (“preemies”) are at risk for multiple health problems, including breathing difficulties, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and delays in their gross and fine motor skills.

Premature baby

Why are babies born pre-term?

The cause of premature labor is not fully understood. However, there are certain risk factors that can increase the likelihood of premature labor: a woman that has experienced premature labor with a previous birth, a woman that is pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets, etc), and a woman with cervical or uterine defects. Certain health problems can also increase the risk of premature labor, including diabetes, high blood pressure and preeclampsia, obesity, in-vitro fertilization, and a short time period between pregnancies.

What are the effects of being born pre-term?

In addition to multiple medical complications, a baby that is born before 37 weeks of gestation is at risk for developmental problems in gross motor skills, fine motor skills, sensory integration, speech and language skills, and learning. The baby may take longer to reach specific developmental milestones or need help to reach those milestones. The earlier babies are born, the more at risk they are for having delays. Each child is different as well, and no two preemies will be delayed in exactly the same manner.

If you or your pediatrician suspects that your baby is developmentally delayed, there are a variety of professionals that can assist your child in achieving his or her full potential. A physical therapist can help facilitate development of gross motor milestones such as sitting, crawling, walking, running, or jumping. An occupational therapist can help develop fine motor skills such as object manipulation, hand-eye coordination, and reaching, as well as sensory integration. Speech therapists can help improve language skills and articulation.  Consult with your pediatrician or talk with one of our Family Child Advocates to receive more information on setting up an evaluation with a skilled therapist at NSPT.

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Tummy Time | Facebook Live Video

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NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, and Hinsdale. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Physical Therapy Month: What do Physical Therapists Treat?

When I tell people that I am a pediatric physical therapist I am often met with a blank, questioning stare. Why could children possibly need physical therapy? When most people think of physical blog-physical therapy-month-main-landscapetherapy, they think of recovering from a back injury or shoulder surgery, or maybe they think of someone in a nursing home going through rehab after a stroke. However, children can often benefit from the services of a physical therapist as well, from newborns all the way through adolescents. Pediatric physical therapists focus on the gross motor development of children, and work to address any limitations that may impact that development.

Pediatric physical therapists therefore work with a wide range of diagnoses and conditions including:

  • Gross motor delay: Development of gross motor skills is an important piece of child development. Since these skills build on one another, a delay with one skill can lead to further delays or difficulty with later skills. Pediatric physical therapists can help your child develop the major gross motor milestones listed below, as well as many more!
    • Rolling
    • Sitting
    • Crawling
    • Standing
    • Walking
    • Running
    • Jumping
  • Torticollis and plagiocephaly: Torticollis is a condition that occurs when there is asymmetrical muscle length and strength in a baby’s neck muscles, and therefore limits symmetrical neck motion. Plagiocephaly, or asymmetrical head shape, often occurs when a child has torticollis, as a result of frequent pressure being put on only one part of the head. A pediatric physical therapist can help to stretch and strengthen the child’s neck in order to promote symmetrical motion and head shape.
  • Balance and coordination disorders: Limitations in balance and coordination can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to develop motor skills, as well as to safely negotiate his or her natural environments. A pediatric physical therapist can treat these limitations to allow for improved functioning and safety.
  • Neurological disorders: A neurological disorder occurs when there is abnormal functioning of the body’s nerves, spinal cord, or brain. These are just a few of the disorders that a pediatric physical therapist can treat.
    • Cerebral palsy
    • Spina bifida
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Spinal cord injury
  • Orthopedic conditions: Children get hurt too! Even though children tend to be more resilient to injury then adults, children who suffer an injury or require surgery can also benefit from physical therapy services to help restore function to the musculoskeletal system.
    • Post-injury
    • Post-surgery
    • Scoliosis
  • Genetic disorders: Genetic mutations may result in impaired development and functioning in children, and can therefore be addressed through intervention with a pediatric physical therapist. While there is a wide range of genetic disorders and their resulting impact on child development, below are a few examples of genetic disorders where a pediatric physical therapist is typically a part of the child’s team of providers.
    • Down syndrome
    • Duchenne muscular dystrophy
    • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Gait abnormalities: The way a child’s lower extremity bones and muscles develop have a large impact on the child’s gait mechanics. Abnormalities with gait, such as toe-walking, can be addressed by a pediatric physical therapist.
  • Many more! If you are unsure of whether your child may benefit from the services of a pediatric physical therapist, speak with your pediatrician or reach out to a pediatric physical therapist near you.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood,Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, and Hinsdale! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!