It’s World Physiotherapy Day (link opens in new window). While occupational therapists work on fine motor skills – the movements of the small muscles in the body, a physiotherapist looks at gross motor skills and movements to benefit the large muscles of the body.
Physiotherapists offer early intervention support for children with low vision, developmental and/or neurological delays and sensory impairments. They are movement specialists who understand the interaction of development, biomechanics and function.
We thought we’d share the work we do with Max, a younger client who receives physiotherapy support from VisAbility Children and Youth Physiotherapist, Emma.
Emma has been working with Max since he was five months old. Max was born five weeks premature, with complications with his oesophagus and he spent four and a half months in neonatal intensive care.
It was around 13 weeks of age that his mum, Stephanie noticed issues with his eyesight.
“I noticed Max would go cross-eyed regularly throughout the day and at times his eyes appeared to be shaking, so I asked for an opthalmologist to check him”
Stephanie, mother to Max, VisAbility client
Children’s physiotherapy and low vision
At 17 weeks old, an ophthalmologist diagnosed bilateral congenital cataracts and nystagmus. Max had a lensectomy to remove the lenses in both eyes. Without lenses, Max’s eyes are unable to focus, meaning everything is blurry. To help with this, Max wears strong prescription aphakic glasses and has been trialling wearing contact lenses.
Stephanie explains how physiotherapy is helping him to meet his own goals.
“Max required early intervention physiotherapy to help him catch up on his development, given his long stay in hospital and given his poor vision. Right from the start, Emma helped us to build Max’s core strength and balance through play.
Max starts Kindy next year. His parents say his progress has been impressive.
“Max will be going into mainstream education next year. What has really benefitted Max is the continuity of care with Physio Emma and her ability to tailor strategies to help him catch up on developmental milestones. She has shared our ups and downs and walked this journey with us,” says Stephanie.
“Without Emma’s input, he wouldn’t be where he is today. As soon as Max took his first steps, I shared a video with Emma. She’s been there with us all the time and helped to continually build on Max’s balance and coordination, which has set him up well for starting school.
“It has been such a pleasure to be on this journey with Max and his family. Furthermore, seeing the incredible progress he continues to make. I see Max every two to three weeks. We focus on a lot of play-based activities and exercises to make therapy fun and engaging.”
Emma, VisAbility Physiotherapist
Physiotherapy is focused on building a child’s movement abilities through implementation of a program that meets each child’s unique needs and goals.
Emma has introduced a wide range of fun, play-type activities. They build on Max’s coordination, core strength, balance and motor milestones attainment.
Emma visits Max in all sorts of environments, such as local parks and playgrounds, in addition – the family home, local swimming pool and Max’s day care.
How to get support
If you live with vision impairment, please complete the form below to make an initial enquiry about the low vision services and support we can provide. Our Client Experience Team will contact you to discuss your individual needs both now and into the future.
There are a number of low vision support groups in Perth and the wider area.
If you are a provider and wish to refer a client, please use our low vision medical certificate (online referral form) to make your referral.