Information for the public

Physiotherapy and occupational therapy

Physiotherapy and occupational therapy

Once your child has been referred for specialist treatment, they should be assessed by a physiotherapist. They may also be seen by an occupational therapist. This is someone who helps your child's health and wellbeing by finding out what aspects of their condition and surroundings cause them difficulties, and focusing on practical activities that help them with these things.

Your child should be offered physical therapy (physiotherapy, occupational therapy, or both) as part of their treatment programme, which should aim to meet your child's specific treatment goals. For example, the physical therapy could include enhancing skill development, function and ability to take part in everyday activities; preventing pain or contractures; muscle strengthening or stretching exercises (or both); and activities to help with posture.

The therapist should discuss the physical therapy with you and your child and take your views into consideration when suggesting a suitable type of therapy. They should give you verbal and written (or appropriate formats) information about the type of physical therapy needed and its benefits and difficulties. They will consider any difficulties of carrying out the programme, and whether you or your child would need training if the therapy was to be carried out at home outside the therapy sessions.

The therapist will need to make sure that any equipment or techniques needed for the therapy programme are safe for your child, especially if your child has additional conditions such as epilepsy or osteoporosis. They should also encourage your child to incorporate the physical therapy into daily activities – for example, standing at the sink while brushing teeth in order to stretch leg muscles.

The therapist should check at regular intervals to make sure that the therapy is still helping your child to reach the goals that you have agreed, and modify the treatment plan if necessary.

Physical therapy following other treatments

Your child will need to have a special programme of physical therapy after having any of the following treatments:

Questions you might like to ask about physiotherapy or occupational therapy

  • How much time and effort will the therapy take?

  • Will I or my child need any training?

  • How likely is my child to reach their goals?

  • What are the benefits of this treatment?

  • Is the treatment likely to cause any problems?

  • Information Standard