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Specialised Neuromotor Screen for Infants and Small Children

This screening service (paediatric developmental assessment) which is available for all children from 3 months of age and up, is provided by Michael Parr the consulting osteopath and physical rehabilitation specialist of Elementary Health in Cambridge, who has travelled internationally to generate his post graduate training in paediatric assessment (baby check-up) and infant care (paediatric therapy). Training includes some of the most up to date training and skills of baby and young child neuromotor assessment and paediatric physical rehabilitation methods.

During development, as an infant is learning to move and express their movement capabilities, we can observe and get a window into their current nervous systems developmental state. It is recommend that we perform these check-ups throughout the early years, at key developmental milestones, to ensure your infant remains at their optimum as they transition into later stages of infancy and then on into childhood.

We observe movements, screening for late development of certain chronologically predictable movement skills, which develop in a specific order and during the first years of life. These neuro-motor development stages (milestones), are developmental steps which are the ideal that your baby can achieve. The usual motor development trajectory can be predicted and assessed, and in addition to this, subtle, small variations, can hold information for key points of focus and support, allowing us to often positively intervene, before time has allowed for more strongly developed non-optimal movements to have established themselves. This allows us to work together to find the most ideal movement patterns your baby can achieve.

These neuro-motor assessments can assist in the early detection of health problems, whilst, wanting to support and work alongside current systems of detection and care. We recommend you ensure your baby continues to attend all health service assessments and primary care appointments. We will focus on the supportive monitoring of in-born motor functions, their development, and then later learned motor functions, such as dynamic movements of your baby, throughout early developmental stages (ontogenesis) and beyond.

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Michael helped our son from about 7 months old to 11 months old as he was learning to crawl and walk. He gave us very helpful advice on motor development at this stage and showed us practical exercises we could do with him to help him develop his motor skills in a healthy way and to watch out for compensatory behaviours that can cause problems later in life. He was always gentle and kind with him and used toys and a play mat to interest him and keep him busy as we went through the exercises. I would definitely recommend him to parents looking for physio services for babies and young children particularly with a focus on motor skills.

Paediatric Neuromotor Assessment

The team have specialist training and knowledge to perform a detailed baby assessment (baby check-up), and we can perform staged milestone baby MOT follow ups. We advise having a baby assessment at an early age, to help highlight any aspects that need monitoring or support. This will help implement a supportive approach towards your child’s development, as they grow older.

This developmental assessment for babies is formed using principles based on a developmental kinesiology approach, with integration of neurophysiological and biomechanical principles of the locomotor system function and the quality of the central nervous system (CNS). Methods of clinical screening for the neuro-musculoskeletal presentations of sensorimotor control, with neuro-physiological integration, includes assessing such aspects as motor programmes and motor behaviour, respiratory functions, structural and developmental disturbances.

Assessment of the stabilizing function of muscles, and the internal forces generated, which has a decisive postural role are considered. Motor control is key, and functional control of motor systems is required. Functional tests are used to assess the quality and functional stability of the spinal stabilizers and other joint stabilizers, as we look for the ‘key link’ of dysfunction, which is often non-symptomatic. If you compare how a baby moves at present, with the perceived possible ideal movement pattern, you may find the key links needed to improve their motor control.

Evaluation is useful for the identification of motor deficits as early as possible, through screening exams of motor development of the child. This allows early detection of disturbed postures, with early initiation of treatment. The consulting rehabilitation clinician looks at a combination of innate reflexes, postures and motion, including the dynamic functional presentation of global movement patterns, while assessing your baby from head to toe, in order to give your infant a whole body supportive approach, and help establish specific treatments.

The goals of these assessments is to determine the type of postural and movement patterns available to the infant, assess current neuromuscular functions, and highlight abnormalities in neuro-motor development, which aids in the establishment of treatment strategies.

The clinician will then advise on their findings, and help answer any questions that may arise from this new information, before progressing to exercise therapy.

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Michael has worked with my son (toddler) for around 6 months. My son had developed some odd habits for sitting, crawling and walking, which made his movement slower and somewhat cumbersome.

Michael had worked with my son in kind, engaging and fun ways, finding simple and holistic activities to engage my son’s muscles and reactivate full movement. Throughout the sessions Michael kept me informed – as a parent and carer, of what he was doing and sharing with me how to conduct observations in order to best place corrective efforts and follow-up exercise at home. These, in turn, were easy-to-remember and -work with, and were virtually unnoticeable for my son.

Last but certainly not least – for my son, sessions with Michael were just another play session, this time with an adult who was mindful of my son’s state of mind, level of engagement, as well as their physical ability. The light-touch, observational tuition and homework made for excellent progress over time. I cannot recommend enough!

Paediatric Neuromotor Treatment

Having obtained assessment findings, the clinician applies modifying movements, to assist motor skills, and improve the quality of purposeful motion, working to improve the assessed quality of functional stability of the spinal and joint stabilisers. 

The treatment method aims at working to empower parents, guardians and carers with a global approach to therapy and a care model of: motor developmental specific education, observational surveillance, osteopathic manually therapy, and through gently guided and specific dynamic exercise therapy, provides treatment of the developing (ontogenetic) global postural-locomotor patterns. The technique includes a specialised clinical and research informed developmental kinesiology approach, specifically designed to work with its influence on the baby’s nervous systems controls of the spine, pelvis, trunk and whole global motor controls. This is achieved by building body awareness, performing physical hands on treatment for reduction of non-optimal movement patterns and to normalise mobility and performing guided Exercise Therapy (assistive help during exercises and play), progressing into Dynamic Exercise Therapy.

Sometimes the software for the baby’s motor control is not working optimally. This can perhaps sometimes be due to aspects such as a ’functional block’. These functional errors of central coordination may affect motor control, spinal stability, breathing patterns, symmetry control of the body, and general mobility, which all in turn may hinder achieving optimal quality of milestones.

By finding ‘optimal’ postures, this may initiate the nervous system controls to give a more suitable motor control programme. This may help with optimising how the body moves, working with any neuromuscular problems the infant may have.

Stimulating the movement control centres in the brain is achieved, when using positions and postures and movements that the body would use to support itself, and by manually guiding the body during movements. This takes the opportunity and advantage of such strong neuroplasticity in infancy, to help during this time frame for optimal development and intervention. This then achieves a basis for the formation of increasingly refined motors schemes. Because these movements are based on the stabilisation of the spine, they cannot always easily be initially performed voluntarily through classic exercise play and treatment, so the guidance of a trained practitioner is needed to get the desired results.

Guidance for aftercare will be provided, which will assist by helping to establish and prioritise training components, to aid your baby’s strengths and target areas of focus for further support, which can be initiated independently, as an adjunct in achieving your baby’s movement goals.

If there are any other questions about this specialist Paediatric Neuromotor Service, or, you wish to book a consultation with Michael Parr the consulting osteopath in Cambridge, based at Elementary Health, please don’t hesitate to call or email.

We recommend your infant’s first visit is a Complex Case Consultation. The Initial Consultation will last 90 minutes (1.5 hours), and all follow up appointments for treatment will last 30 minutes, unless a 60 minutes treatment is required.

Next Steps

If there are any other questions, or, you wish to book a consultation with Michael Parr the consulting osteopath in Cambridge, based at Elementary Health. Please don’t hesitate to call or email.

Cambridge Osteopathy
& Rehabilitation Clinic

8c Romsey Terrace
Cambridge
CB1 3NH