Children have unique developmental needs, as they undergo critical and rapid physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth. Many osteopaths see children for musculoskeletal and neurodevelopmental care, movement concerns, physical pain, and postural imbalance.
Your teenager will experience changes including puberty, growth spurts, aches, and shifts as they adjust to their adult body. An osteopath will listen and work with your teenager to manage and prevent injury. You can then focus on your school, sport and social goals.
How osteopaths work with children and teenagers
Osteopaths understand children’s and teenagers’ developmental potential, and how environmental factors can impact their potential.
Osteopaths work with children and teenagers establishing short-term developmental support, pain relief or rehabilitation after injury. They also understand that children and teenagers develop at their own rates and may require different, and flexible action plans to accommodate these changes.
Osteopaths can also work to develop management plans for long-term health conditions, physical disabilities, growth, and movement delays, and even those with no symptoms.
An osteopath will require all minors to be accompanied by a parent or guardian during consultation and appointment.
Initial consultation and assessment
Osteopaths work with families to address movement, growth, and development concerns, with or without an injury. Your osteopath will take the time to ask about your concerns and your child’s symptoms, while also taking into consideration the concerns from your child or teenager.
With minors who have limited 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.
A teenager may feel more comfortable speaking about their own body and actively participating in their treatment. Any assessments and treatment plans should be discussed between the osteopath, parent or guardian and the teenager.
Movement and skill development
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 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 and teenagers 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.