At work I’m often asked: “When should we start rehabilitation?”, “Is my child not too small?”, “Is it still sensible to rehabilitate, after all, he is no longer a baby?”
Almost every month I meet patients who should start therapy in infancy … How is it that possible that living in the 21st century with access to a lot of information and research, the tiny patient and his/her parent don’t know/are not referred for rehabilitation earlier?
The first place I looked for answers to the above question was of course the Internet. After visiting one, two, fifteen, and forty pages with statements related to the beginning of the rehabilitation process in children, I had to close my eyes and take three deep breaths. I have to admit that I found a few real-life answers, but I regret to say that they are drowned in a myriad of myths. Huge information chaos … but let’s not waste time for comments only let’s get straight to the point.
When to start child rehabilitation? As soon as possible!!! (Of course, if there are no medical contraindications such as after surgery.) From the moment we find out that the child will need help in the form of therapy, we should provide it. Medek (and not only) assumes that the most effective time to start therapy is the first 6 months of a child’s life. Why is it so important? Early rehabilitation brings better results. It has not been known for a long time that young children learn quickly (their brains show greater plasticity). Does that mean that older children are no longer able to recover? Are their brains no longer plastic? Absolutely not!! The brain retains its plasticity throughout its life if it is constantly exercised. The processes of acquiring knowledge and skills only slow down with age which does not mean that they cease. At this point you have to realize that an extremely important thing in the rehabilitation process is an early intervention and a correct diagnosis. Medek, and not only it, assumes that the most effective time to start therapy is the first 6 months of a child’s life. In addition to the information chaos, another reason for the problematic situation is the downplaying of symptoms by both parents and physicians. Any disturbing signal about the development of your baby should be reported to your physician or physiotherapist. Of course, every child is different and develops at his/her own pace. Deviations from the development tables do not necessarily mean any disease or danger. However, it’s better to check if everything is o.k. and have your fears proved unfounded rather than to have them confirmed, only too late. A huge number of children are diagnosed and referred for rehabilitation late. Dear parent, if you feel something is wrong, do not let yourself be dismissed; Consult another specialist.
I do not want you to become paranoid, I just want to raise awareness of the importance of early intervention. In highly developed countries, such as Germany, every newborn, regardless of their state of health, must undergo 10 physiotherapeutic appointments, thanks to which a number of developmental abnormalities are detected at a very early stage, thus shortening the rehabilitation process and increasing parental awareness of the problem. Great solution, right? Until such solutions are introduced in our country it is worth knowing that:
- Rehabilitation of a child should begin as early as possible.
- Early diagnosis and intervention are of great importance in the rehabilitation process.
- Any disturbing signal in the child’s development should be consulted with a specialist.
- It is worth to confirm the “diagnosis” with several specialists in the field.