Physiotherapy for international and private patients

Physiotherapy aims to help treat children and young people with physical difficulties as well as providing support for families and carers. There are two dedicated physiotherapists who work across the International and Private Patients (IPP) wards (Butterfly, Bumblebee and Hedgehog). Physiotherapy is divided into two main areas respiratory physiotherapy and rehabilitation. Physiotherapy treats children with short- and long-term conditions, which affect their physical development, activity and ability to participate in play, learning and socialising. 

IPP physiotherapy services at GOSH

If the child or young person has ongoing therapy needs following a physiotherapy assessment, a personalised treatment program will be put together. For younger children this will be focused on key positions to aid development of skills such as rolling, sitting, standing and walking. For older children the rehabilitation may be focused more on strengthening, balance, and activity participation. Some children require assessment and issue of specialist physiotherapy equipment such as standing frames, walkers or orthotics. This will be assessed and requested. Parents will also be taught how to practice positions and exercises with their children, and a paper program may be provided.

If children require respiratory physiotherapy this may involve different techniques and airway clearance devices which help the lungs remain clear of secretions. This will be assessed by the physiotherapist on an individual basis.

The physiotherapy sessions may happen on the ward in patient’s rooms, in the play room on the ward, in the physiotherapy gym, hydrotherapy pool or outdoors in the park depending on the needs of the child or young person. 

We work very closely with the multidisciplinary team, including doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, play team and social workers, giving a holistic approach to care. The physiotherapy assessment can help make a diagnosis or help plan further treatment or investigations. Often, the physiotherapists will provide an individualised treatment program following the assessment.

Conditions commonly seen by the team

Haematology, Oncology, Immunology and Bone Marrow Transplant (Butterfly ward)

Neurology and Neurosurgery (Bumblebee ward, Hedgehog ward)

  • bleeds in the brain (stroke)
  • hydrocephalus and shunts
  • spinal cord untethering
  • epilepsy surgery
  • abnormal movements
  • infections in the brain such as meningitis and encephalitis
  • developmental regression.

Respiratory (Bumblebee ward, Hedgehog ward)

  • bronchiectasis
  • chronic lung disease
  • secondary restrictive lung conditions.

Orthopaedics (Bumblebee ward)

  • scoliosis surgery
  • limb lengthening
  • hip dysplasia
  • talipes equinovarus.

What a physiotherapist does and how will it help

Conditions of the brain and spinal cord can often affect walking, balance, co-ordination, movement, strength and the child’s ability to play and develop. This is where a physiotherapist can help.

Children are assessed by chartered physiotherapists who are specifically trained and experienced in working with children who have difficulties arising from problems with their brain, spinal cord or nerves.

The physiotherapist may look at:

  • walking, sitting and standing
  • balance
  • co-ordination
  • muscle strength
  • movement quality
  • joint range (how much a joint can move)
  • posture
  • breathing
  • how a child moves (rolls, sits, stands, walks) and gets from one position to another.

What physiotherapy involves

Each child will have an individualised treatment program which may include:

  • positioning to optimise recovery
  • advice and education for parents, carers and patients
  • strengthening exercises
  • stretching exercises
  • balance and coordination exercises
  • activities and exercises to ease stiffness, encourage movement and help and optimise function
  • hydrotherapy (exercises in water)
  • training in the use of equipment that helps replace lost function or promotes independence, such as crutches and walking frames
  • walking practice and gait re-education
  • splinting
  • breathing exercises
  • breathing equipment to help airway clearance
  • developmental play program
  • advice on toys and activities for families to carry out
  • developmental play programmes
  • chest physiotherapy, including breathing exercises and sputum clearance techniques.

More information

Learn more about our IPP department by visiting their website.