Birth defects – How can physiotherapy help?

Ingress Healthcare

Julia Lee-Sylvester


There are many congenital disorders that affect an infant’s motor function. These include Spina Bifida, Down Syndrome, heart defects and others.

Every year, an estimated 7.9 million infants (6% of worldwide births) are born with serious birth defects. Although some congenital defects can be controlled and treated, an estimated 3.2 million of these children are disabled for life.

Educating women and their families before pregnancy is a critical first step to improving birth outcomes. Failing that, the majority of newborns with a serious congenital disorder face a lifetime of severe disability.

Congenital anomalies can contribute to long-term disability, which may have significant impacts on individuals, families, health-care systems, and societies.

As a Physiotherapist, I focus on the rehabilitation of infants and children with congenital disorders to improve their quality of life and participation in society.

The role of the physiotherapist is to assess how a baby, toddler or child is tracking developmentally, determine what their strengths and weaknesses are, and most importantly evaluate these findings with the primary caregiver to see what impact these points are having on the child’s day-to-day life. The focus is to improve movement and function in the body caused by problems with muscles, bones or the nervous system.

Using a holistic, child-centred, multi-disciplinary approach I aim to support not only the child but the family as they walk the journey that is having a child with additional needs. Together with the caregivers, we plan and implement programs that will help these children attain their optimal educational potential and make recommendations for increasing a child’s ability to participate in educational or home activities.

In addition, physiotherapists contribute unique administrative, consultative, management, and teaching skills that help modify the educational environment so that children may benefit from their educational placement.

Book a paediatric consultation with Julia Lee-Sylvester to assess how your child is developing.

Request rates

Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: