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what is an orthotist

What is an Orthotist?

 

 

 

Pediatric physical therapists and physicians often rely on the help of orthotists and prosthetists to help with patients’ mobility needs. Sometimes, children come to physical therapists with gait and postural deviations (toe-walking, in-toeing, scoliosis, etc) and other conditions where exercises and muscle retraining simply are not enough. In those cases, we often ask for the help of an orthotics and prosthetics (O&P) specialist. Braces and artificial limbs are important to facilitate movement and promote independence.

When we refer children to an orthotist, it means we think that some aspect of their movement and growth could be helped out by an external medical device. An orthotist is a critical part of the rehabilitation and therapy process. Orthotics help correct alignment and improve function of childrens’ neuromuscular or musculoskeletal system. Orthotists evaluate what a child’s functional needs are and will design and construct the orthotic devices as needed. An orthotist is a certified healthcare professional who is knowledgeable in human anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, and engineering. As movement specialists, physical therapist rely heavily on the help of orthotists to achieve the mobility goals for our clients.

Some conditions that may require help of an orthotist:

Not sure if your child will have orthotic needs? Come see a physical therapist and we can point you to the right medical professional depending on your needs.

Click here to read our run-down of the best over the counter foot orthotics.

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis can be a very scary diagnosis, especially if you aren’t exactly sure what it is or what can cause it. Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine to the right or left as you are looking at the spine from behind. There is typically a rotation of the involved spinal segments as well.scoliosis

There are 3 different types of scoliosis, each the result of a different mechanism:

  • Congenital scoliosis– the child is born with the lateral curvature due to an atypical development of the spine in utero.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis– caused by an underlying neuromuscular condition that results in abnormal muscular pull on the spine. Conditions such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida are examples of underlying diagnoses that may result in neuromuscular scoliosis.
  • Idiopathic scoliosis-this means that there is no known cause of the scoliosis. This is the most common form of scoliosis and can present in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood.

Adolescents, predominantly female, who are currently or have recently gone through a growth spurt are the most likely to develop scoliosis. Kids between the ages of 10-15 are therefore at the greatest risk. Except for more severe cases, scoliosis is typically not associated with back pain; however, kids with scoliosis are at an increased risk of having back pain during adulthood.

Treatment for scoliosis will depend on the severity of the curvature:

  • Conservative-for mild to moderate cases of scoliosis, treatments such as bracing, postural exercises, and physical therapy are used to prevent progression of the curve.
  • Surgical-for severe curvatures, surgical placement of rods to maintain a straight spine is often utilized.

Regardless of the type or severity of scoliosis, the key to optimal outcomes is early recognition. With early detection through school screenings or screening from a physician or physical therapist, treatment and monitoring can begin immediately. If you are concerned that your child may have scoliosis, or are looking for treatment for a child with a diagnosis of scoliosis, please see a physical therapist at North Shore Pediatric Therapy.

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5 Back To School Backpack Tips

School is just around the corner and back-to-school shopping is in full swing! One of the most important items to buy your child is a well-fitted backpack that will ensure proper posture and comfort. Backpacks that are too heavy, too low-fitting or worn just over one shoulder can hinder a child’s spinal alignment and cause muscle strains. It is not uncommon for backpacks to cause acquired scoliosis.

5 tips to keep in mind when buying your child their new backpack

  1. Make sure to choose a backpack that has two shoulder straps. This way, weight is distributed evenly between both sides of the body. One-shoulder packs may be stylish, but can lead to spinal curvature if packed too heavy.Blue Child's Backpack
  2. A backpack should fit snugly on the lower back and should never lay below 4 inches below the waist. This way, shoulder and back muscles are not strained and a child will be able to maintain correct posture when standing and walking. A child should be able to stand up straight and not round their back or shoulders when carrying their backpack.
  3. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, a backpack should weigh no more then 15% of the child’s body weight. For example, a child weighing 100 pounds should not wear a backpack weighing more then 15 pounds.
  4. If the backpack is too heavy for the student, roller-bags are a good option. Make sure to check with school faculty to see if these are allowed within your child’s school. A heavier item, such as a large textbook, can be held in an arm instead of on the back if the backpack is too overloaded.
  5. Try to lead heavier items toward the back so that weight is evenly distributed. If certain items are not needed for the day, leave them at home to lessen the weight of the backpack.