Why Do the Legs of Newborn Babies Look Bowed?

“When Phoebe’s little legs are tucked under her body, I see how she was able to fit into the tiny space of the womb.  At first I was concerned because I didn’t know why her legs were positioned like that.”

Babies born at gestational term have a tightness to their bodies called physiological flexion.  This means that space was limited in the final trimester and the baby assumed the most compact position with arms and legs held close to her core.   Practice will provide an opportunity to decrease tightness through active movement.  In turn, active movement provides sensory input and postural control.  Development happens gradually, month by month with one skill building upon another.   The posts in the milestones category describe the maturation of babies in the first year of life as they begin tightly flexed and learn to roll, sit, cruise and stand.

Continue reading “Why Do the Legs of Newborn Babies Look Bowed?”

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How to Use the Pediatric Balance Scale

Elise is constantly falling during her school day.   She often has skinned knees and bruises.  Although she is 10,  she walks down stairs one step at a time.    As Elise’s physical therapist, what observational measure will you use to measure her functional balance skills?  How will you document her progress?  

Balance is defined as the ability to keep the center of mass over the base of support.

Postural control is the act of maintaining, achieving or restoring a state of balance during an activity.  

Link to Pediatric Balance Scale Score Sheet

Pediatric physical therapists informally evaluate balance and postural control in almost every movement a child makes.   Multiple body systems contribute to balance, making measurement of functional balance somewhat challenging.

Continue reading “How to Use the Pediatric Balance Scale”

6 Months: Pivot Prone

“My 6-month old daughter rocks on her belly and moves her arms all around.  It looks like she is swimming on land!  What is going on while she is playing like that?”

This swimming motion, common during the development of 5-6 month olds, is also known as pivot prone.   The first time you might see something like this would be during a Landau reaction.  The Landau reaction emerges at approximately 3 months as a reflex/postural reaction, allowing the baby to extend against gravity while held at the stomach.  However, by 5-6 months of age, the baby has taken this foundation movement and has developed the strength and flexibility to play with it in a variety of ways while on the floor.  These new sensations and movement keep interest in the activity.

What is happening during this motion?

Continue reading “6 Months: Pivot Prone”

5 Months: Rolling to Side

 

Q: What happens when a baby brings hands to knees and then weight shifts or looks to the side? 

A: Her whole body rolls to the side and she learns to control it and use it for function.

Around 5-6 months, this little one has learned to initiate some big movements like pushing up onto hands while on her stomach and grabbing knees and feet while on her back.  She is busy reaching and looking around.  Combining foundation skills such as hands to knees and weight shifts, larger movements begin to evolve, like rolling from back to side (otherwise known as supine to sidelying).

What is happening as she rolls from supine to sidelying?

Continue reading “5 Months: Rolling to Side”

6 Months: Sidelying With Pelvic Femoral Dissociation

Life is so exciting for the six month old; once she learns to roll to the side, it is fun to play in this position.   Beyond fun for the little one, what special things are happening with development at this stage?  After all, play is child’s work.

  • Mastering the balance of flexion and extension in the trunk:  she is able to play in sidelying without falling forward or backward.
  • Increasing shoulder girdle control and stability- allowing propping on one arm to play.
  • Emergence/increasing lower extremity dissociation: one foot can prop to meet the ground and stabilize in this position.  To do this, one leg must be flexed, the other extended while weight is increasingly shifted to the hip that contacts the floor.
  • Foot weight-bearing: bringing the foot to meet the ground and getting some weight on to different parts of the foot in order to prepare for standing.
  • Lateral flexibility and of the trunk/rib cage.
  • Lateral head righting against gravity.

From this position your little one can grab toys to mouth, providing a whole new level of independence for exploration!  All of these movements build the foundation for transitions that come in later months like progressing to side sitting, getting up on all fours and pulling to stand.

5 Months: Feet to Mouth

Your 5-month-old just learned to lift his feet from the ground and grab them with his hands.  What’s next?  Putting the toes into the mouth, of course!

This is such a sweet phase of development.  Here is a quick review of the other amazing things that are happening as your baby pulls his toes into his mouth.

  • Activated abdominal muscles!  As you can see from the wrinkles on this baby’s tummy, the core muscles are firing and lifting the legs off the ground.
  • Developing and strengthening downward visual gaze.
  • Grasping and pulling with either one or both arms and hands.
  • Activating quadriceps muscles as the leg straightens.
  • Stretching out hamstrings from the physiological flexion present at birth.
  • Stretching the toes into extension.
  • Foot desensitization (with the heel pounding that happens when the feet hit the floor again).
  • Tactile input from mouthing, grabbing, stretching; preparing the feet for walking.
  • Developing general body awareness.

When a baby discovers this position, they are becoming experts at rolling to their side.

 

14. Strategies For Filling In the ICF/ NDTA Enablement Model

There are hundreds of medical reports in Kiyoshi’s file.   In addition to oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)  he has uveitis and a seizure disorder.  Kiyoshi has severe pain, joint contractures and difficulty moving around.  Medications are not controlling the inflammation, there have been more seizures lately and his foot orthotics are too small.    How do you begin physical therapy decision-making with a child this complex?

The International Classification of Functioning  (ICF) conceptual framework allows you to apply your knowledge  and skills to challenging situations.  It will take a while to sort information into proper categories and edit. However, once this is complete, connections become clear and sound clinical decision-making will follow.    The question I get asked most often about the ICF is , “where do you start?”.  This post will guide you as you fill in the ICF/NDTA Enablement Model categories for the first time. Continue reading “14. Strategies For Filling In the ICF/ NDTA Enablement Model”