Having a thorough physical therapist is of utmost importance when it comes to physical therapy care for babies. Infants have unique needs and vulnerabilities, requiring specialized attention and expertise to ensure their optimal development and well-being. A skilled and knowledgeable physical therapist possesses a deep understanding of the intricacies of infant physiology, growth patterns, and developmental milestones. They can effectively assess, diagnose, and treat a wide range of musculoskeletal, neurological, and developmental conditions that may hinder a baby's physical progress. And when it comes to PT, there are many experiences associated with therapy that you might not initially think of. Several of these are assessed specifically in the mouth! To highlight a few, a truly thorough physical therapist should do the following, in addition to offering mobility and strength-support to your child’s body. 1. Assess your baby’s mouth palate. One important reason for a physical therapist to assess a baby's mouth palate is to identify any structural abnormalities, such as cleft palate, that can affect feeding and swallowing and then speech and language development down the line. A baby’s palate may also be an indicator of breathing function. A high narrow palate may indicate open-mouthed breathing posture.
2. Assess your baby’s cheek strength and determine if there’s any tightness in the muscle. It is important for a physical therapist to assess a baby's cheek strength and determine if there is any tightness in the muscle because it can impact the baby's ability to breastfeed or bottle-feed effectively. Cheek strength plays a crucial role in creating a proper seal around the nipple and maintaining suction during feeding. If there is weakness or tightness in the cheek muscles, it can lead to difficulties in latching, sucking, and swallowing, which can result in inadequate nutrition and weight gain. 3. Assess the sounds your baby is making. This can provide valuable insights into the baby's communication and language development. The sounds a baby produces, such as cooing, babbling, or attempting to imitate words, are indicative of their speech and language skills. By carefully observing and assessing these sounds, a physical therapist can identify any potential delays or difficulties in speech production. Early detection of speech and language issues allows for timely referral for speech therapy intervention to address any underlying concerns. By assessing the sounds a baby is making, a physical therapist can contribute to promoting effective communication and supporting the baby's overall language development. Remember that while a thorough therapist is important to determine what could be going on with your little one, a therapist who is solutions-oriented will be ready to guide you to make progress for the better.
If you’re ready for a full physical therapy assessment for someone in your family, reach out to us today!