Being a Pediatric Physiotherapist

Çeviri: Duru GÜNEL

It has been 32 years in physiotherapy and rehabilitation department which I have learned by a coincidence and which I have written as one of my selections in the university entrance exams. I have lived all the beauties and the difficulties of this profession ever since the time I had finished my studies in the physiotherapy and rehabilitation department which was back in the time only existing under the scope of Hacettepe University. The profession of being a physiotherapist, being a hope to people whose independence and ability to move in daily life were affected by neurological, orthopaedic and developmental problems; pain, weakness, sensory problems, extremity losses, traumas, progressive diseases and by many reasons that I cannot specify individually in the scope of this article.

Especially the children… The children who go through developmental problems compared to their peers in the mother’s womb or in the first minutes of birth and in the first years of their lives, the children who cannot live their childhood.

Some children fall behind in cognitive, sensory and motor characteristics, communication skills and motor functions. One or more than one insufficiency in these developmental areas has the potential of affecting the child in negative ways, making them dependable in life. This situation naturally affects other family members as well. Independent life skills consist of the skills which are required for the child to maintain a life without being dependent on others.  

Daily life skills consist of skills about the family of the child which are in scope of the independent life skills.

A pediatric physiotherapist is a physical therapist who have gained the title of physiotherapist after at least 4 years of physiotherapy rehabilitation undergraduate study.

Pediatric physiotherapists are specialized in treatment of various congenital, developmental, musculoskeletal disorders or diseases of infants, children and adolescents.

The treatments do not only help the gross and motor skills, balance and coordination, and the development of strength and endurance to improve but also helps with the improvement of cognitive or sensory process and the integration. 

Pediatric physiotherapists have knowledge about the growth and development of normal child, neuromuscular system in children and the chronological process of motor development characteristics on top of the general physiotherapy knowledge.  They take part in the physiotherapy and rehabilitation of problems which have the possibility to cause a deviation from normal angle of development in children. Pediatric physiotherapist is concerned with evaluation, prognosis and treatment of children with a functional disability due to a disease, disorder or trauma from birth to adolescence and children with handicap. Pediatric rehabilitation requires a team-oriented approach to the scene of disability or handicap created by physical, cognitive or sense- perceptive disorders due to prenatal, natal or postnatal factors. 

Physiotherapists take part in the identification of evaluation approaches, that are convenient in terms of physiotherapy- rehabilitation, for various prenatal, natal and postnatal neurological disorders affecting the physical and cognitive development. Similarly, they take charge in the formation of necessary physiotherapy rehabilitation programmes and family education. Besides, they also took part in the evaluation and physiotherapy applications which can be applied to children before and after operations. A pediatric physiotherapist, helps the determination of early health problems and uses various treatment modalities to treat the disorders occurring in children. 

In conclusion, peditaric physiotherapists, helps the handicapped children to gain the maximum physical performance in their daily life activities.  S/he works for the age-appropriate behaviours and age-appropriate gross motors to be reached (ex; crawling, sitting, standing and walking), for the child to participate better in school with his/her peers, on the development of movement capacity, strength, posture, balance and the independent function of endurance.

In 2004 the Pediatric Physiotherapists Association was established in order to raise the awareness of peditaric physiotherapy rehabilitation,“being a pediatric physiotherapist” in the health sector and minimize the problems that prevent independence caused by problems such as Gullian barre syndrome, Traumatic FAI injuries,

Developmental problems, Hydrocephalus, Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, Hemophilia, Scoliosis.  risky baby, Cerebral Palsy, Burn developmental retardation, Spina bifida, Obsteric brachial plexus injuries, Down syndrome, Congenital torticollis by aiding in the development of the physiotherapists’ highest ethical and professional standards.
The main aim of us, physiotherapists, is to increase the life quality of babies and children with neuro- motor disorders, developmental problems and “obstacle” in their behaviours and to create a “difference” in their lives.

Prof. Mintaze Kerem Günel
Hacettepe University, Faculty of Health Sciences,
 Department of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation 
Chair of the Paediatric Physiotherapists Association