Developmental Delay Challenges
Physical Therapy addresses motor developmental delays, which are due to challenges to an infant/ toddler’s musculoskeletal system.These challenges affect an infant/ toddler’s ability to accomplish age-appropriate physical milestones. Motor delays can be due to premature birth, multiple births, lack of early stimulation, autism, larger head or body size, conditions that affect muscles and joints (i.e. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Erbs Palsy, Torticollis, hip or shoulder problems, and joint sprains/ strains) or traumatic events such as a car accident, surgery, etc. Developmental milestones are markers for healthy growth and progression through movement strategies and function. If they are not achieved as expected, and an infant/toddler falls behind, they may develop alternate movement strategies that do not utilize symmetry and stability. They may eventually have functional limitations as adults with greater challenges.What are developmental delays in infants and toddlers?
There are many different types of developmental delays in infants and young children. They include problems with:
• Language or Speech
• Movement & Motor Skills
• Social & Emotional Skills
• Thinking & Cognitive Skills
Possible causes of language and speech problems.
A variety of problems may cause language and speech delays, including:
• Exposure to more than one language.
• A learning disability.
• A problem with the muscles controlling speech, a disorder called dysarthria.
• Hearing loss, which may occur in children who have severe middle ear infections or occur as a result of certain medications, trauma, or genetic disorders.
• Autism spectrum disorders: a group of neurological disorders that may involve impaired communication as well as impaired social interaction and cognitive skills
Possible causes of vision delays.
Refractive errors, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, are common in children. In rare cases, blindness may result. Other eye problems include:
• Amblyopia (lazy eye), poor vision in one eye
• Infantile cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens, which is usually a rare inherited problem.
• Retinopathy of prematurity, an eye disease that sometimes affects premature infants
• Strabismus, also called ‘cross eyed’ – eyes that turn in, out, up, or down
Possible causes of motor skill delays
Babies and children who are born prematurely or of multiple births may not develop muscles at the same rate as other similar aged babies.
Babies and children who have been institutionalized, lack of stimulation early on, or have autism may have motor delays and/or sensory integration dysfunction.
Babies in the higher percentile for head size, body size and/or weight are often linked with motor delays.
Babies with conditions that affect muscles and joints also exhibit motor delays. Such conditions are: torticollis, hip or shoulder problems, rheumatoid arthritis, nerve damage as seen in Erbs Palsy, and general joint sprains and strains that can affect mobility and walking.
Lastly, babies and children that have suffered physical trauma such as in a car accident or surgery, can exhibit delays in motor skills and milestones.