Written by: Dr. Yelena Bregman, PT, DPT
The growth, learning and metamorphosis of a child in their first year of life is extraordinary. A typical newborn will enter this world being completely dependent on their parents for everything. A few short months go by and the baby begins to track objects with their eyes, hold up their head, reach for toys, then the fun really begins with rolling from prone (tummy time) to supine (back side) and vise versa. Soon, they are able to improve their trunk control and sitting balance, from static supported sitting with a wide base of support to being able to sit independently in a variety of positions while reaching and interacting with toys. One day you walk into the nursery and find the baby in a quadruped position (up on all 4's) and rocking back and forth, before you know it they are creeping, then crawling so fast you can barely keep up! Baby keeps developing and learns the art of pulling to stand, cruising and sometime between 12-18 months old they take their first steps. When it goes smoothly and easily, much of it may be taken for granted.
However, not all children develop at the same time or the same way. Atypical development occurs within typical children sometimes. If there is ever a question or concern about your child's development don't hesitate to reach out to your Pediatrician and request a referral to be assessed by a Pediatric Physical Therapist. The earlier that a child receives intervention the greater the likelihood for success.
The beauty of Pediatric Physical Therapy is that children are pliable. Children's neural networks are still developing making them extremely susceptible to change. Physical exercises producing optimal forces on the body have the power to enhance the circuitry of the young brain resulting in greater motor control. What does that really mean? Pediatric Physical Therapists possess the tools to enhance a child's life and optimize their function. When a PT is working with a child on their gait (walking), every step that the child takes sends a message back up to the Central Nervous System (the spinal cord and brain). With enough practice change is truly possible. Every step matters.
Pediatric development is a culmination of genetics and environmental factors. This means even though we don't have much control over our genetics, we have the ability to optimize a child's environment.