How can physiotherapy help children?


Physiotherapy is an allied health service focused on body movement, reducing pain and stiffness and improving functionality. It can involve specialist areas of musculoskeletal, developmental and neurological physiotherapy.

Key points

  • Physiotherapy can help children with disability to reach their goals in a range of areas
  • A good physiotherapist will understand your child’s goals and the family’s goals, as well as delivering their service in the best environment for your child
  • People with disability might only use physiotherapy while they are children, or might continue to have sessions in their adult life

There is no age limit to access physiotherapy, as all exercises and sessions are targeted at the individual. This means babies can benefit from physiotherapy, right through their childhood and into adulthood if that’s what they need.

A physiotherapist may use hands-on treatment, such as massage or stretching, hydrotherapy and home exercise programs, depending on what suits a child’s development. They can even teach parents and carers how to do treatments.

If a child needs casting or splinting for any part of their body and at any age, including casts and splints related to a disability or medical condition, a physiotherapist can also manage this.

Benefits of physiotherapy for children

The exercises provided by physiotherapists can help children with disability reach goals of participating in more activities with their friends and family.

They do this by monitoring a child’s strength, range of motion and balance to keep track of their progress.

Physiotherapy can support children to develop fine and gross motor skills and mobility.

As physiotherapists monitor the development of a child’s movement they can also provide intervention if the child has a developmental delay, helping them to stay on track and work towards independence.

Aside from the physical benefits of physiotherapy, sessions can also be engaging and fun for children and families, supporting them to reach their goals with enjoyment along the way.

What to look for in a physiotherapist

It’s important to find someone who will take the time to actively listen to you and your child about what is important and meaningful to your family, so they can target exercises and sessions towards achieving your goals.

The physiotherapist should be able to help you set those goals, making sure they are motivational and meaningful, and to have a plan for your child’s development.

Be aware that physiotherapy is not just about the sessions the physiotherapist provides to your child but also involves you as a family and can include exercises at home.

A good physiotherapist will be able to recognise the strengths that your family can bring to support your child’s development and will be able to use those strengths to help achieve the goals you set.

Don’t forget, physiotherapy for children is also about making things fun! Look for a physiotherapist who puts effort into exercises for your child which can be delivered in a fun way.

It’s important your child is comfortable with the environment that they have physiotherapy sessions in. This might mean that you need a physiotherapist who will visit you at home, at school, at the park or at a pool for hydrotherapy.

You don’t always need to have physiotherapy scheduled at a clinic, but you might also find the clinic works best for your child.

The location of sessions can match your family’s goals, for example, if one of the goals is for your child to be able to play on the playground, their physiotherapy might be best delivered at the local park, or in your backyard if you have a playground set.

How has your child benefitted from physiotherapy? Tell us in the comments below.

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