Problems with the Brain and Nervous System
The nervous system is extremely complicated. The brain has often been likened to a central computer within a vast, complicated network of wiring (the nervous system). The brain works at lightning speed making infinite decisions that affect the outcome of everything we do. It allows us to breathe, feel, talk, learn and remember, and enables us to move our bones and muscles in complicated yet coordinated ways. The brain allows us to perform all of these things and more, often without any conscious effort on our part, and even while we are asleep.
Unfortunately, such an amazing and complex system can go wrong. Damage can happen to the brain and nervous system before, during, and after birth. This can result in the child having a neurological condition Some of the children’s neurological conditions treated by physiotherapists include:
Meningitis and Encephalitis are inflammatory conditions affecting the brain and spinal cord, usually caused by bacteria or viruses. Meningitis is the inflammation of the coverings (‘meninges’) of the brain and spinal cord. Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain tissue itself. Both conditions can result in permanent damage to the brain.
Spinal Cord Injury is caused by damage to the spinal cord. It can be caused by a direct injury to the cord itself or from an indirect injury from damage to the bones, soft tissues, and blood vessels surrounding the spinal cord. Only about 5% of spinal cord injuries occur in children. Symptoms of a spinal cord injury vary depending on the location and severity of the injury. The main problem is the weakness of muscles and loss of sensation at and below the level of the injury.
Spina bifida is a congenital disorder affecting the formation of the spine. About 75% of cases are called ‘Myelomeningocele’. The backbone and spinal canal do not completely form before birth causing a decrease or lack of function of the parts of the body controlled from or below the defect. Most defects occur in the lower lumbar or sacral areas of the back (the lowest areas of the spine) because this area is normally the last part of the spine to close during inter-utero development.
Head Injuries are injuries to the brain caused by the head being hit by something or shaken violently. Head injuries are also called traumatic head or brain injury (TBI) and acquired brain injury (ABI). They can change how the person acts, moves, and thinks. The signs of head injury can be very different depending on which part of the brain has been injured and how severely.
Microcephaly is a neurological disorder where the baby’s head is much smaller than normal for an infant of the same age and sex. It may be associated with other conditions or syndromes. Children with microcephaly may have learning difficulties, delayed development, movement disorders, and sensory impairments (vision/hearing loss).
How can the Paediatric Physiotherapists at Therapies for kids help?
It has been shown that physiotherapy from an early age can help babies and children with the conditions listed above acquire movement skills, maximising their abilities, and assist in the prevention of deformities and contractures.
Therapies for Kids can offer early intensive intervention. We believe in immersion in movement and by providing opportunities to practice skills learned in individual sessions in Fizzy Gym Groups, accessing Practice "n" play gym passes, accessing holiday groups, and intensive blocks of treatment we feel we provide you with a unique experience for your child. Your physiotherapist will design a treatment programme to meet your child’s individual needs using various techniques that may include:
- Physiotherapy and occupational therapy to encourage motor development.
- Orthotics for the lower limbs and splints for the upper limbs.
- Botulinum toxin A (Botox): to relax tight muscles. Given by injection, requiring light anaesthesia.
- Oral medications including Diazepam and Baclofen.
- Intrathecal baclofen: medication is given into the space around the spinal cord.
- Orthopaedic surgery: such as soft tissue surgery for the hip, or hamstring surgery for the knee.
- Plastic surgery: tendon transfers and releases to improve arm use.
- Speech pathology to help with any communication problems and to provide help with eating, drinking or saliva problems.