When my son was younger he developed torticollis, (tight muscles on one side of his neck), which caused his poor little head to lean to one side. I asked the doctors about it at each of his visits, but they never seemed to pay any attention to my concerns. They’d tell me to place toys on the opposite side of his crib or play area and to give him lots of tummy time. I did all of those things and his problem continued.
Finally I took matters into my own hands and searched for a physical therapist who specializes in the care of infants. (What did people do before the invention of the Internet?) My insurance company covered some small portion of each session’s total, but only after I paid my entire deductible for the year. Initially I took him twice a month and paid $140 for each visit. When I switched insurance companies my deductible rose to $3,000 a year. Needless to say all of my visits now are paid for out of pocket.
At each visit the therapist spends sixty minutes looking over my son’s body. She asks him to reach for things with both hands, walk, run, kneel and play with toys. She listens to the progress in his verbal communication and stretches out all of the muscles in his neck, arms, shoulders, torso, legs, knees and feet. If she feels tension in a particular area she performs a few stretching exercises and when necessary employs craniosacral therapy to help even things out.
Thanks to therapy my son’s torticollis was corrected long ago, but every six months or so I still take my son back for an evaluation. At this point his therapist seems more like a relative than a medical care provider and even when a long time passes between visits my son still warms right up to her.
When I tell people that I take my son to a physical therapist they often give me strange looks. They ask if he has any medical problems and I tell them that he doesn’t. I just want someone to pay close attention to him as he grows and develops, which usually elicits another strange look.
I don’t like doctors. I have plenty of reasons for disliking them, but in general I think they have too many patients to keep up with these days.
When I take my son to his routine medical appointments the doctor spends very little time actually looking over his body. I have plenty of time to ask questions, but the overall body scan probably takes less than two minutes. That includes looking into his eyes, mouth and ears. The doctor certainly doesn’t take any time to listen to him speak or to watch how he moves his body when he walks, runs or plays.
I’m sure the doctor feels no need to check these things out. After all parents would speak up if they noticed something or had any concerns, but what if parents don’t know what to ask. I have moderate scoliosis that could have been corrected. Unfortunately, in my case doctors just didn’t spend enough time paying attention to my growth and my parents didn’t realize my scoliosis would create lifelong pain and problems for me.
For now I will gladly pay a physical therapist $75 to evaluate my son. I hope that nothing major will ever turn up, but it gives me great piece of mind to have a second set of eyes watching over him while he grows.