Alexandra Chiropractic

   Child Development & Injury - up to 18 years

“It is wiser to erect a fence at the top of a precipice (steep cliff) than to maintain an ambulance at the bottom.”                                                                   

              - Frederic Truby King, 1906; adapted as the original motto of the Plunket Society in New Zealand.

Research has shown that many of the spinal and health problems experienced by adults may have started very early in life.  For some adults this may have occurred as early as birth, and although most major trauma is picked up immediately, many minor birth traumas often remain undiagnosed.  For other adults, spinal & health problems may have occurred due to a specific injury during childhood.

Spinal problems can occur when nerve messages become interrupted or affected by misalignments of one or more vertebrae.  This then result in altered joint motion and impaired nerve function.

At Alexandra Chiropractic, we have a range of gentle techniques, suitable for all ages, which aim to resolve any nerve interference, thus supporting a person’s genetic potential.

The information to follow is an introduction to the support available during early child development & injury.  We recommend you contact us to receive personalised advice.

Supporting Physical Infant Milestones

Failure or difficulty in meeting the various physical milestones can be the most obvious indicators or signs of nerve dysfunction in a young child, with the less obvious sign of irritability & unsettledness in an infant, often normalised without further investigation.

Milestones can be viewed as achievement stages that follow a predictable and linear path; although the timing and duration of each stage is specific to each infant.  If given the time and space, children often direct their own physical development & many minor dysfunctions can be resolved independently through movement.  Problems can occur when an infant is unable to resolve a dysfunction, with increased & unexplained levels of irritation a common symptom.

There are many physical milestones in the first year.  The following have been identified as the most obvious indicators of requiring referral should an infant be showing difficulty or fail to meet.

  1. 1 - 3 months

  2. Difficulty turning head freely both ways. This could be due to restrictions at the top of the neck & will make feeding on both sides difficult & could alter head shape due to favoring one side.

  3. Difficulty supporting head and upper body when on stomach (tummy time).  This should be an enjoyable time for babies.  Discomfort could be due to nerve disfunction or lack of opportunity.

  4. 4 - 7 months

  5. Unable to roll over both ways (stomach to back, back to stomach).  Difficulty could be due to an asymmetrical motor pattern or restrictions in the tissues that surround tendons.

  6. Reluctance or failure to sit up with, and then without support of their hands.  In this instance there has usually been other contributing factors prior to this milestone.

  7. 8 - 15 months

  8. Get on hands-and-knees position and crawl.  Crawling appears to be a vital milestone so don’t rush a child into walking.  It is important that the crawl is a cross crawl.  Referral should be made if you baby only bum shuffles, commando crawls, or adapts some other movement.

  9. Pull self to stand, walk holding onto furniture, and eventually take a few steps and then walk.  Injuries are much more likely around this time so take the time to baby proof your house.

A Chiropractic assessment will confirm or eliminate physical signs of nerve dysfunction so that treatment provided, or referral, is timely and appropriate.

Modern Lifestyle Risks

Modern lifestyle choices appear to be contributing to varying levels of nerve dysfunction for children, with many spending extended periods of time in car seats, jolly jumpers or front packs. 

Infants who regularly fall asleep in a car seat are at greater risk of restricted movement in the sacrum, and increased tension in the neck & shoulders, as well as altered head shape. To develop through the many physical milestones, infants need to be free of tension.

Jolly jumpers & many brands of front packs, put a child into an upright weight bearing position before their spine is developed enough to do so, and therefore should be avoided.

Gentle hands on therapy can help to relieve tension or restrictions in an infants body.

Injuries - Play

As children begin to move they are naturally exposed to increased risks with an Australian researcher citing that on average a child before the age of 7 might fall about 2500 times, and by the age of three may have had 3 major falls from either change tables, beds, cots, stairs or couches.  Furthermore it was estimated that 47.9% of children land on their head in their first year of life.  It is not surprising then that some studies have cited that up to 50% of school age children present with subtle delay when examined.

One could say that minor injuries are a natural and healthy part of development, therefore the challenge for parents is to recognise when an injury remains unresolved, and to seek advice from a qualified health practitioner.

Injuries - Sport & Recreation

As children grow older there are increased risks of being involved in injuries from contact sport, or adventurous recreational choices.

Children aren't always forthcoming about pain, and symptoms can be subtle - much subtler than limping, swelling or bleeding. To follow are a number of subtle changes that parents can be on the look out for which might suggest that a child has an injury, or is in pain.

  1. Change in technique. Children might make minor changes to their motion or form, to work around pain. You might also notice a drop in physical performance level or balance in general.

  1. Behavioral changes. Inability to sleep, mood swings and lack of appetite can be the first signs that a child is sore, which may keep a sport from being enjoyable and possibly contribute to a sudden avoidance of a previously preferred activity.

  1. Difficulty sitting. Children with knee pain might have trouble keeping their leg bent continuously - sitting in a car or at a desk, for example - and often will feel better if they straighten it out or walk around.

  1. Headaches. If a headache develops after any blow to the head - even a seemingly insignificant blow - don't ignore it. Children with pain that persists after a head injury should see a doctor before trying to play again. They also need medical attention for headaches that occur during or after exercise.

  1. Low-back pain. Activities that stress the back, including contact sport, gymnastics and lifting, can gradually damage bones in the spine. Stretching, strengthening exercises, rest and breaks from sport and recreation can help.

Gentle hands on treatment can help to get your child’s physical performance back on track.

Maintaining Optimum Posture

Modern lifestyle may expose children of all ages from repetitive or prolonged postures while watching TV or playing computer games.  Poor posture can subject the spine to abnormal stress, which in time can lead to structural changes in the spine, including degeneration of discs & joints, lengthening or shortening of the supportive ligaments and muscles, and wear and tear of cartilage.  All of these changes can lead to back and neck pain.  Manual treatment combined with education is effective in promoting and maintaining posture.

Supporting Performance In Sport

Children today appear to have more opportunity to engage in sport at a high level with many participating in a number of different codes.  Each sport presents with different physical challenges, therefore it is important that the developmental age of each child is taken into account when it comes to training and competition levels.  This will help to avoid burn out and/or an injury bought on by overusing parts of the body, or a failure to recover adequately.

Manual therapy and nutritional support can help to support developing bodies to perform at a high level in their chosen sport.

Things That May Be of Interest

Sore Muscles

First Aid

Vitamins & Nutritional Supplements

86 Centennial Ave. Alexandra 9320. Central Otago. New Zealand.

03 448

Doctors of Chiropractic

Dr Danielle Lomman BChiroSci Macq, MChiro Macq

Dr Ryan Lomman BHlthSci Adel, MChiro Macq