Archive for January, 2015

Adapted Bike Clinic

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by Calgary Youth Physiotherapy 1 Comment


The Calgary Youth Physiotherapy staff will be volunteering at the Cerebral Palsy Association of Calgary, Adapted Bike Clinic on Saturday March 7th and Sunday March 8th and at the Community Adapted Bike Clinic Saturday April 18th, 2015.

Come on out and say hello!

Gross Motor Skills

Posted on: January 20th, 2015 by Linette Lahey No Comments
  1. What are gross motor skills?
    – The dictionary definition of gross motor skills is as follows: the abilities usually acquired during infancy and early childhood as part of a child’s motor development.
    – Gross movement comes from large muscle groups and whole body movement.
    – This is the opposite of fine motor movement which involves the small muscles of the body that are used in activities such as: grasping, writing, picking up coins, and doing up buttons.
  2. Why are they so important during those growing years?
    – From the time a child is born he or she is beginning to develop motor skills. Lifting the head up, bring the hands together, and playing with feet are all examples of gross motor skill in infants.
    – Alert to parents of infants. Today there is a significant population of infants that develop cranial asymmetry (flatness of one portion of the head, called “plagiocephaly”). They may also develop stiffness in the neck where the baby has difficulty turning his or her head to one side (“torticollis”), and developmental delay or slow development of gross motor skills. Flatness of the head is caused by forces that deform the skull bones when a baby lies for long hours on his back. Importantly, “Back to Sleep” positioning is widely recommended by medical professionals to decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is recognized, however, that infants require exposure to other positions such as lying on their tummies and sides, when not asleep and when supervised. This helps to unload the unwanted and asymmetrical forces to the skull that cause flatness as well as encourages strength to core and upper extremity musculature that is required for lifting the head, rolling, and crawling.
    – This is the period in a child’s life when he or she begins to develop many of the gross motor movement skills that are used as building blocks to more advanced motor patterns. This includes: climbing stairs, running, jumping, hopping on one foot, balancing, sliding, throwing, catching, and trike riding. This is the time period in a child’s life when many developmental delays are recognized as a child tends to spend more time with his peers. Development of these basic preschool skills leads to increased overall strength, motor planning, confidence, and ultimately an ability to participate in social and recreational settings.
  3. How can parents help their child develop gross motor skills? (Different kinds of activities)
    – Encourage a variety of positions for your baby during awake periods. Supervised tummy time is especially important in the 0-9month phase of development.
    – Encourage grasping play with objects that require the baby to bring his or her hands together.
    – Motivate the child to move by placing objects just outside of his or her reach.
    – Whenever safe to do so, allow child to play on the floor rather than being confined in car seats or infant swings.
    – Parents should encourage their children to be active and move in fun playful ways such as building obstacle courses and forts, walking like a wheelbarrow, animal walks, catching and kicking balls, skipping, galloping, trike riding, and frequenting park or indoor play areas.
    – If you live in a colder climate provide your preschooler with a large open space free of fragile objects to play in. Equip you room with balls to kick and throw, add mini sticks or light rackets for hand eye coordination. Provide old mattresses or pillows, set on the floor, to jump from and balance on. Make use of any open beams to hang rings, a trapeze, or swing to strengthen the upper body and core. Old sheets are great for making tents and for parachute play. Stuffed animals are great to play with or to throw and catch. Tunnels can be used to build with and to crawl though. Play lots of music as music inspires movement! Not all areas need to be carpeted. Tile, hardwood, or concrete are great for riding toys, wagons, and tricycles. Remember to promote safety. Install any hanging bars, swings, etc. according to directions. Wear a helmet for riding toys and tricycles. Always supervise your child, and join in the fun, during these activities.
    – Other more structured activities that can promote gross motor development include swimming, gymnastics, non-aggressive martial arts, dance lessons, soccer, skating, yoga, and wall climbing.
    – Encourage play dates with other children of similar ages.
    – Limit “screen time” in your household.
    – Parents should also consult a physical therapist knowledgeable in pediatric development, a pediatrician, or their family physician if they have any concerns about their child’s development.
  4. How can parents know if their child is developing normally? (What is normal at each stage?) Children reach gross motor milestones at different rates and therefore we give a range of achievement of motor milestones.
    • Sitting independently 5-8 months
    • Crawling-6-12 months
    • Walking 12-18 monthsBy 2 years of Age, a child should be able to:
    • Go up and down the stairs placing two feet on each step
    • Jump off a step with a two-foot take-off
    • Stand on one foot for 1-3 seconds
    • Kick a large ball
    • Throw a small ball
    • Step over low objectsBy 3 years old, a child should be able to:
    • Start and stop movement on command
    • Climb up stairs placing one foot on each step
    • Jump with both feet
    • Catch a large ball
    • Walk on tip toes
    By 4 years old, a child should be able to:
    • Gallop
    • Ride a tricycle
    • Hop on one foot
    • Avoid obstacles when running
    • Throw a ball 10 feet forward
    • Walk on a 4 inch line on the floor without falling offBy 5 years old, a child should be able to:
    • Stand on one foot for 8-10 seconds
    • Walk on a balance beam forwards
    • Hop 5-6 times on either foot
    • Jump 2-3 feet forward
    • Alternate feet when descending stairsBy 6 years old, a child should be able to:
    • Skip
    • Climb play structures independently
    • Ride a bicycle with training wheels
    • Play hopscotch
    • Catch a small ball with hands from 5 feet
  5. When should parents be concerned?
    – Parents should be concerned if their child is not attaining gross motor skills within the above mentioned guidelines for development.
    – Parents may be concerned if they note their child is lagging behind when involved in pre-school or playgroups with other children of the same age.
    – Concern may occur if a child’s balance or movement patterns pose a safety risk or if a child is losing gross motor skills and/or fatigues rapidly compared to his or her peers.


Article by:
Keltie Wattie PT., MSc.P.T. Physical Therapist, Co-owner Calgary Youth Physiotherapy Ltd.
Linette Lahey PT. BSc.P.T. Physical Therapist, Co-owner Calgary Youth Physiotherapy Ltd.


Originally published in Canadian Family Magazine

Heel Pain in Soccer Season

Posted on: January 20th, 2015 by Linette Lahey No Comments

Is your child complaining of heel pain? Limping? Heel pain in children can be a common occurrence during soccer season. Most commonly seen in children in the 9 to 12 year age category, irritation in the growth centre of the heel bone (calcaneus) can be caused by one of two mechanisms. The first occurs when the heel is exposed to excessive compression or impact forces. This can happen when a shoe with poor padding is worn, and the heel strikes a firm surface, like hard frozen or dry ground. Sound familiar? The second mechanism of injury occurs when the growth centre in the heel is subject to excessive traction forces. This sometimes occurs when a child is running or jumping. Tightness in the calf may be a contributing factor.

This condition is called,”Sever’s Disease”. While not a disease at all, this condition can be very painful and somewhat limiting, causing tenderness around the heel, and often causing a child to walk on their toes, or have limited participation in sport.

Prevention and treatment of this condition can often be as simple as placing an inexpensive gel heel lift into the shoe. This offers more padding to decrease compression, as well as adding a lift, so that there is less stretch (traction) to the area. Occasionally, in more persistent cases, exercises to stretch and/ or strengthen the surrounding musculature are often prescribed. Taping may also be of benefit.

Early recognition is important! When your child says, “Mom, my heel hurts!” remember that these simple interventions may help… and of course, confirmation by your doctor or local physiotherapist is always recommended.

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