Children's Community Physiotherapy
The Children’s Community Physiotherapy Service is made up of a team of physiotherapists and technical instructors who work with children and young people aged 0-19.
We are a specialist neurodisability service and see children with specific motor delay or disability associated with conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. Our key focus is to develop a child or young person’s ability to reach their full physical potential.
We see children at Kaleidoscope, in their own homes, in early years settings and schools, and within community settings such as local leisure facilities and gyms. We also run a number of specialist clinics for foot, lower limb and gait problems (orthotics) and postural management. In addition, we support other clinics such as the Complex Needs Clinic, Joint Initial Assessment Clinic and Complex Coordination Clinic.
What we do
Physiotherapists work with children who have a physical disability or condition that impacts on their development and daily activities. The Children’s Community Physiotherapy Service sees children and young people with motor disabilities and/or motor delay (difficulty moving).
Children’s physiotherapists can help your child:
develop their gross motor skills (their ability to control the larger movements needed for moving)
maximise their ability to participate in motor activities, such as play, sport and leisure
trial and use equipment to protect their posture or enhance their mobility.
Activities suggested by a physiotherapist will work best if done little and often and form part of your child’s day. We will show you how to do activities/exercises regularly with your child and may ask to go into your child’s nursery/school to advise staff working with your child how to do these activities/exercises as well.
We may suggest your child takes part in leisure/sports activities to help with their movement.
It is important that you:
try the activities your physiotherapist has suggested with your child
contact your physiotherapist if you have any concerns about your child’s posture or movements.
are involved in the planning of your child’s physiotherapy goals.
Who can be referred?
We will see children and young people aged 0-19 who are resident in Lewisham or in full-time education in Lewisham and who meet our criteria. We also accept referrals for children whose GP is in Lewisham.
If a child lives in Lewisham but their GP is in a different borough, please ask for a referral to the equivalent service in that borough.
Who can refer?
Your GP or health visitor can refer your child to us. Please make an appointment with them to discuss your concerns. If your child is known to other services, such as occupational therapy or speech and language therapy, or is currently in hospital and requires ongoing physiotherapy, health professionals in those areas can also refer directly to us.
Unfortunately we cannot accept self-referrals.
When to see your GP and discuss a referral:
If you are concerned that your child has a delay in developing their motor skills or this has been highlighted on the Ages and Stages questionnaire carried out by your health visitor at the 7-12 month check
You are concerned your child has some motor patterns which are different from their peers which are persistent and ongoing. These can include moving or using one side of their body more than the other
You notice a deterioration in your child’s motor skills.
Please use the referral form (insert referral form) to refer to us for:
Concerns regarding motor skill development (either as the main concern or secondary to another diagnosis such as genetic syndrome, prematurity, hypermobility)
Children with a neurological diagnosis (acute or long-term) which affects their movement or motor skill development.
Other conditions will be treated by different teams, as set out below.
For the following conditions, please refer to Lewisham’s Paediatric Physiotherapy Team
Orthopaedic concerns eg torticollis, talipes, poor foot posture (in-toeing), bow-legs, knee pain, back pain
Post fracture mobilisation/rehabilitation
Rheumatology conditions, such as arthritis and hypermobility
Any musculoskeletal foot related problems without an underlying neurological condition such as flat feet/over-pronation and in-toeing, will be seen by Foot Health Services at University Hospital Lewisham.
Concerns around co-ordination and fine motor skills, participation at school or self-care will be dealt with by the Occupational Therapy Team.
Please contact the physiotherapy department on 020 7138 1452 to discuss a referral if you are unsure which department to refer to.
Initial Assessment Clinic
When your child is referred to our physiotherapy department, the referral will be reviewed by a senior physiotherapist. If the referral is appropriate for our service, your child will be allocated to our waiting list. You will receive a letter to let you know the referral was received.
When your child is due an appointment, you will be contacted to arrange an appointment in our Initial Assessment Clinic. The aim of this appointment is to gather further information and carry out a physical assessment, which involves looking at your child’s movement patterns and skills, assessing their muscle tone and joint range of movement.
After this appointment, the physiotherapist can let you know if physiotherapy is needed and will decide which type of intervention will be most appropriate.
Joint Initial Assessment Clinic
Some children may have complex needs and may need assessments from various health professionals in our community services. If this is evident from the referral, a member of the team will contact you to ask your permission to discuss the referral with other members of our community team.
What happens if my child needs physiotherapy?
After your child has had their initial physiotherapy assessment, we will discuss with you whether your child needs physiotherapy treatment or management.
Children have individual needs and will require different levels of treatment or management.
Your child may be seen by a physiotherapist in the following ways:
In a clinic for a review of their needs and to monitor their development
In individual or group physiotherapy sessions
At nursery or school, working together with education staff
In clinic to assess whether your child needs specialist equipment.
How can I help my child to be active?
Taking part in physical activity has many benefits for your child’s physical and mental wellbeing, function, confidence and independence.
Physiotherapists work with you and your child to give advice on activities that enable a child or young person to participate in physical activities that are meaningful and important to them.
If you are interested in more information, you can speak to a physiotherapist to find out about local inclusive activity clubs that your child might be interested in trying out.
You may find the following websites helpful for further information: