Osteopathic care of children

Young children have unique developmental needs, as they undergo critical and rapid physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth during the early years. Many osteopaths see children of all ages for musculoskeletal and neurodevelopmental care, movement concerns, physical pain, and postural imbalance.

How osteopaths work with children

Osteopaths understand that every child has their own developmental potential, and several environmental factors are essential for children to reach their potential. Osteopaths work with children with no symptoms, as well as those needing short-term developmental support, pain relief or rehabilitation after injury. They also work with children with long-term health conditions, physical disabilities, and growth and movement delays.

Initial consultation and assessment

Osteopaths work with families to address movement, growth and development concerns in children, with or without an injury. Your osteopath will take the time to ask about your concerns and your child’s symptoms.

As very young children are limited in their communication skills, an assessment may involve questions about your child’s general health and daily routine, as well as developmental screening to review progress in meeting movement, coordination, activity, musculoskeletal or developmental milestones expected by a particular age or stage. Physical, orthopaedic, neurological and functional tests designed for children may be performed to identify progress against these milestones.

Your osteopath can gain much information by observing your child during movement in leisure, play or when interacting with others, and this also forms part of the assessment.

Movement and skill development

It is important that your child’s visit to your osteopath is a pleasant experience. Your osteopath will do their best to engage and build rapport with your child, so they feel safe and cared for.

Depending on your child’s presentation, you may be advised on how to position or assist your young child in movement and activities for skill development. For slightly older children, or children with special needs, the use of certain toys, appliances or equipment may be recommended to support skill acquisition and physical development.

Older children often enjoy playing an active role in their health, and movement advice may be given to them directly.

Developmentally appropriate manual therapy treatments may be recommended for your child, determined by your child’s age and presentation. Your osteopath will explain the details of the recommended treatment to you.

Your osteopath may also prescribe an exercise program for your child to improve flexibility, build aerobic fitness or improve strength.

Further clinical care

If further clinical care is needed, your osteopath will take the time to explain these to you and your child.  Your osteopath will also consider factors in a child’s life, thoughts, family relationships or broader health that might be impacting them and that may need attention from other health professionals.