Pediatric Physical Therapy in Portsmouth
We are proud to have our practice featured in Seacoast Online discussing Pediatric Physical Therapy, written by Suzanne Laurent…
Michelle Smith has joined the staff of Lighthouse Physical Therapy as a pediatric physical therapist. Pediatric physical therapists work with children and their families to assist each child in reaching his or her maximum potential to function independently, and they use their expertise in movement and apply clinical reasoning through the process of examination, evaluation, diagnosis and intervention.
There are a host of diagnoses that a pediatric PT can help. They include torticollis (positioning in utero), cerebral palsy, neuromuscular disorders, autism, developmental delay, developmental coordination disorder, metabolic disorder, pediatric orthopedics and scoliosis, oral-motor dysfunction and chromosomal/congenital disorders.
Smith studied physical therapy at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. While working at an in-patient rehabilitation center in North Miami, Florida, she discovered her passion for working with children and became certified in neuro developmental techniques (DNT) for pediatrics. She also uses integrative manual therapy and craniosacral therapy in her practice. Craniosacral therapy is a gentle approach that works to alleviate a range of sensory, motor or neurological disorders
All of Lighthouse’s physical therapists use IMT, which is based on the assumption that most health problems (whether minor or chronic) come down to blockages and other dysfunction that prevent the body from self-healing. Addressing the body as a whole, IMT allows the practitioner to locate the source of pain and disability and not just the symptom. The practitioner can then re-establish the body’s internal flow and innate healing abilities
“I’ll see patients as early as newborns,” Smith said. “I can help balance out their system after the traumatic sensory compression of going through the birth canal. Smith offers well-baby checkups and finds some babies benefit by craniosacral therapy and IMT for colic. “Colic is usually caused by compression of the 10th cranial nerve and the therapy alleviates the problem,” she said. For babies born with cerebral palsy, Smith works with them on orthopedic issues and spastic muscles. She helps them as they grow with wheelchairs, orthotics and other mobility aids. “I use craniosacral therapy IMT to help autistic children’s systems to function better,” Smith said. “It helps them to organize better.” She also sees children who are called “toe walkers.” She helps the tendons in the child’s ankles to relax by treating them once or twice a week depending on the child’s age. “By treating children with scoliosis or orthopedic issues that usually come at puberty, we hope to prevent surgery from happening,” Smith said. Smith said parents bring their young children to check for gross motor skill delays and she has screening tools using toys in the playroom of the practice.
The process of supporting children and families begins with an interview, or conversation, to identify the child’s needs and family’s concerns and continues with an examination and evaluation of the child in the context of his or her daily routines and activities. This evaluation may include mobility, sensory and neuromotor development, use of assistive technology, muscle and joint function, strength and endurance, cardiopulmonary status, posture and balance and oral motor skills.