Do’s and Don’ts for Protecting Your Child’s Joints

Joints

Written By:  Hannah Taylor, DPT
Brightsong, LLC Physical Therapist

Joint protection is important for children in order to prevent damage to their growing bones.  A joint is defined as the point where 2 bones are attached in order to permit body parts to move.  So, joints include the elbow, wrist, etc.   Here are some tips to protect your child’s joints.

ARMS:

  • Don’t pull on your child’s arms when assisting them from lying flat on their back to sitting.
  • Don’t swing your child by his or her arms, this can cause shoulder or elbow dislocation.
  • Do use proper hand placement to assist your child to sitting from lying flat or side lying (i.e. place hands behind head, back or on hips).
  • Do hold your child at their waist or trunk when lifting them up from surface or ground.

LEGS

  • Don’t allow “W” sitting (i.e. when child sits on floor and knees are bent and out to either side of body).  “W” sitting places increased pressure and stretching on hips, knees and ankles.
  • Don’t pull on their legs, knees or ankles aggressively during dressing or play to prevent hip or knee dislocation.
  • Do provide good support of ankles and feet with proper shoe wear.
  • Do encourage proper sitting habits and posture.
  • Do monitor your child’s hips, knees and ankles in standing.  Are their knees hyperextended? Do their legs rotate in or out?
  • Do call your doctor if your child complains of pain in joints.

NECK & BACK

  • Don’t allow your child to participate in high impact sports activities or intense jumping without asking their doctor. This is especially true for children with Down syndrome – they are at risk for increased laxity in neck and vertebrae.
  • Do provide proper seating positions for your child. Make sure that chair is appropriate height for child; if needed place small stool or stack of books under child’s feet for proper support.

With proper care, we can help ensure that your child’s joints are protected in order to promote good growth and development. If your child complains about joint pain or if you have concerns about their posture, gait, balance or coordination – please talk to your child’s pediatrician.  They might need to see a physical therapist for an evaluation.

3 Benefits of Developmental Screenings

It is perfectly normal for parents to have concerns about their child’s development.  Many parents, especially first time parents, may be unaware of “typical” child development milestones.  These milestones are important guidelines used to monitor and measure a child’s development, especially during the critical time for learning – birth to 5 years of age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends “regular, universal developmental screenings of infants and toddlers by pediatric healthcare providers at 9, 18 and 30 months of age.”  These are standardized screenings that typically take about 15 – 20 minutes to complete and provide an overall snapshot of your child’s development. They are important for 3 reasons:

1.  Identify Areas of Concern:  These screenings look at all areas of development – including gross and fine motor skills, communication and language, cognitive skills, self-help skills, etc.  Screenings can be completed by your child’s pediatrician, but your child’s daycare, preschool, therapy center or other community organization may also be able to provide a screening for your child if you have concerns about a specific area of development.

2.  Monitor Growth and Development:  By completing screenings at regular intervals (9, 18 and 30 months), the pediatric professional is able to monitor your child’s development to make sure that they are continuing to gain new skills.

3.  Make Referrals for Services:  While screenings alone cannot diagnose a problem or indicate if a child needs therapy, if concerns are noted in any area, referrals can be made in a timely manner.  These referrals could be to your state’s Early Intervention system, specific therapy or education centers, other community programs, etc.

If you have concerns about your child’s development, it’s important for you to talk with your child’s pediatrician.  Always trust your parental instincts and remember that you are the expert on your child.  Tell the pediatric professional your concerns and ask for a screening to be completed if one isn’t offered.

Now It’s Your Turn:  Have you found developmental screenings to be beneficial for you and your child?