Developmental delay and Neuro Developmental Physiotherapy (NDT)

Every child goes through developmental milestones in a sequence. Babies first start to gain control of their heads, then bring their hands to the centre to play together. They start rolling, sitting , crawling, standing, cruising then walking, usually within the first 18 month of age.  Some of these stages overlap with the next stage and there is a large variety, in terms of timing and acquisition,  between different  children. A child with developmental delay will greatly benefit from neurodevelopmental therapy (NDT) to assist with stimulating them to help achieve the missing milestones. The brain is continually changing and can develop and adapt greatly with stimulation. Neurodevelopmental therapy works on the principle that the brain can be moulded and infantile brains responds quickly, therefore the sooner a child with delay begins to receive appropriate stimulation the better.

Neurodevelopmental therapy helps the child to reach their gross motor milestones but can also monitor if problems with the feeding, communication, sensory or fine motor systems arise later and refer where needed. Treatment is always family orientated and family members or significant others are very integral to goal setting, sessions and carry over to home activities.

Physiotherapy sessions will focus on:

  • What your child can do without help. What your child can almost do. And what you want your child to be able to do.
  • Sessions focus  on age appropriate play which will assist the child whilst being fun and enjoyable.
  • Developmental milestones, aiming for the next milestone to be achieved but also working on previous and subsequent milestones to gain strength and control in all positions. For example if your child cannot sit it is beneficial to work on rolling and play in prone to help gain trunk control and adequate muscle length in these positions which will benefit sitting. But also to work specifically on sitting and transitioning into and out of it.
  • Activities to stimulate head and trunk control as a strong, stable base for arm and leg movement.
  • Transitioning and moving through different positions to help with balance, weight shifts, strength which will help general mobility and function.
  • Stimulating the different senses – visual activities, orientating the child to noises and  playing with toys of different textures and sensations to desensitise the child and to improve the development of all systems.
  • Weight bearing through the arms and legs – both static and mobile weight bearing to provide stability to the shoulder and pelvic girdle.
  • Encouraging mobility over different surfaces.
  • Activities and exercises to increase muscle strength, flexibility and control through all ranges.
  • Balance and coordination exercises.
  • Assisting with devices such as splints, orthoses, wheelchair or positioning devices where needed.

Goal setting will be decided on by the family and therapist within the first couple of sessions and can be adjusted as your child improves. Activities should be incorporated into your daily routine without adding extra stress. Neurodevelopmental therapy helps your child to reach his potential with fun ideas that can be easily carried over at home.

We have trained neuro develpomental physiotherapists at Rehabilita, Anne Knowles Physiotherapy, Roodepoort, Johannesburg. You can bring your child into our rooms or we can do home visits in the Randburg and Roodepoort areas.

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