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Should your child see a GP, a children’s physiotherapist or a paediatrician?

By Rachel Oberholzer
Physiotherapist at Life Ready Physio + Pilates Rockingham

An unwell child is stressful enough, let alone having to worry about deciding whom to consult to help them get better. It is important to know what conditions and ailments a GP, a paediatric/child physiotherapist or a paediatrician specialist normally treat to know who to consult in each situation. 

General practitioners (GPs) are able to:

  • Discuss any concerns you have about your child 
  • Give medication for minor illnesses such as colds, coughs and earaches
  • Check on your child’s health and development
  • Treat cuts that need stitches and other minor injuries such as a minor bang to the head or plastering some fractures
  • Refer you to other health professionals (for child physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, podiatry) or refer you to paediatric specialists


Physiotherapists who are experienced in child physiotherapy/paediatric physiotherapy are able to treat:

  • Babies and children who are slower to achieve their motor milestones eg: babies who are late to learn to sit, crawl or walk
  • Babies and children who are using unusual patterns to move eg: w-sitting or bottom shuffling or toe walking
  • Children who are having difficulty with motor skills such as jumping/hopping or ball skills
  • Toddlers and babies who are clumsy or uncoordinated
  • Children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, autism, brain injury, muscular dystrophies, or other congenital syndromes or conditions
  • Babies and children with conditions affecting their bones, joints or muscles such as plagiocephaly (flattened head shape), clubfoot, flat feet, overly flexible or dislocating joints, or congenital conditions such as Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome and common musculoskeletal issues (eg: Sever’s Disease or patellofemoral pain)
  • Children who have rheumatological and pain conditions such as arthritis, myositis, or chronic pain
  • Children following an injury or trauma who require rehabilitation to get back to their best
  • Children with chronic respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis or primary ciliary dyskinesia

They are also able to refer your child on to a relevant paediatrician, if required.

Paediatricians can further assess, diagnose and treat conditions including:

  • Developmental delay
  • Sleep problems
  • Asthma and allergies
  • Poor growth
  • Behaviour problems 
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Brain conditions such as epilepsy
  • ADHD
  • Disabilities such as Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy
  • Cancer
  • Chronic and metabolic diseases such as diabetes 
  • Infectious diseases such as meningitis
  • Refer on for surgical intervention when required

With an improved understanding of the type of conditions GPs, child/paediatric physiotherapists and paediatricians treat, parents will be able to make an informed choice of which health professional to see. This will allow them to implement an earlier intervention and help speed up their child’s recovery. 

Life Ready Physio has very experienced clinicians who major exclusively in paediatric physiotherapy (child physiotherapy). Learn more here or give us a call today to book your little one in for an assessment

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