Seeing a Paediatric Continence Physiotherapist:
What to Expect for Your Child

Paediatric Continence Physiotherapy can be helpful to toddlers and teens experiencing incontinence or pelvic issues. Read on to find out what to expect at a first appointment.

Seeing a Paediatric Continence Physiotherapist:
What to Expect for Your Child

Paediatric Continence Physiotherapy can be helpful to toddlers and teens experiencing incontinence or pelvic issues. Read on to find out what to expect at a first appointment.

Taking your child to see a paediatric continence physiotherapist can be a great option if they’re having trouble with daytime wetting or bedwetting.

Paediatric physiotherapists can assist with incontinence or pelvic concerns, as well as developmental or neurological delays. Their services are open to toddlers and teens - but when should you consider taking your child to see one, and what can you expect at an appointment?

Keep reading below to find out more!

When should you consider taking your child to see a continence physiotherapist?

Paediatric continence physiotherapists see children for a range of common pelvic issues,
such as:

  • Daytime wetting

  • Faecal incontinence/soiling issues

  • Combined bladder and bowel issues

  • Nocturnal enuresis, or bedwetting

  • Requiring the bathroom frequently during the day

  • Pain when urinating or having a bowel movement

  • Pelvic pain or discomfort, especially in teenage girls experiencing painful periods

  • Constipation

While everyone is different in the age they achieve bladder and bowel control, generally speaking, if your child is over the age of 6 and is meeting their other developmental milestones, or they are particularly distressed about the issue, it is a good idea to seek professional advice.

If your child has been diagnosed with a condition that involves sensory, cognitive, social or movement challenges (such as cerebral palsy or autism spectrum disorder), it’s important to remember that it might take longer for them to be continent, and help from a paediatric physio is a great idea to help them along their journey.

Your child doesn’t need a referral from their GP to see a paediatric physiotherapist, although it would be beneficial to seek assistance from them to rule out any underlying health conditions.

If you attend without a GP referral, note that you won’t be able to access any Medicare rebates you may be eligible for. Medicare rebates for paediatric physiotherapy may only be available to children with a chronic condition and require allied health services, however your GP will be able to advise if your child is eligible.

What is the first appointment with a paediatric continence physiotherapist like?

At the first appointment, you can expect to be asked what issues have prompted the appointment and for health and medical history for your child, including their bladder and bowel function. They may also ask what strategies you are already trying at home (or have tried in the past) and if anything has been helpful.

If your child is old enough and able to answer questions themselves, it’s important to encourage your child to be honest when answering and detailing their symptoms even if it may be difficult to express, as it will give them the best treatment outcomes.

The initial appointment might require a physical assessment, which will be external only and non-invasive. Any findings or diagnoses from the assessment will be discussed and explained to both yourself and your child.

After this, your paediatric physiotherapist will create an individualised treatment plan specific to your child’s needs. Depending on your child’s condition, you may be sent home with a bladder and bowel diary to fill out before their next appointment, or some sources with information to read.

If you have other children who require supervision, it is best if they don’t attend the appointment or are looked after by another adult family member in the waiting room in order to minimise distraction during the appointment.

Will they perform any examinations on my child?

As mentioned above, a physical assessment might be conducted at the first consultation, which will be external only and non-invasive. No internal examinations are performed on children - instead real-time abdominal ultrasound is used in paediatric appointments to view the bladder, bowel and muscle functioning if required.

How long does an appointment go for?

While it can vary across different practices, you can generally expect the initial appointment to go for up to an hour. If any follow-up appointments are required, they can take between thirty minutes to an hour depending on your child’s condition.

How much does it cost to take my child to a paediatric continence physio?

Appointments for paediatric physiotherapists can also vary depending on the practice you attend and the clinician you see. Call your practice of choice to find out their pricing and private health fund rebates.

What happens after the first appointment?

After the paediatric continence physiotherapist assesses the information obtained in the first appointment, they will be able to put together a management plan for you and your child. This could involve a range of things, from home physiotherapy, liaising with your child’s GP or referring to other services.

They will also let you know if any follow-up appointments are required, and if so, how many are expected for treatment before reassessment. You may be required to do ‘homework’ before the next appointment (such as filling in a bladder/bowel diary or reading over some source material).

We hope this information eases any confusion or concerns you may have about taking your child to a paediatric continence physiotherapist. If there’s any extra information you’d like to know about paediatric physiotherapy, be sure to contact your GP or speak to a physiotherapy clinic near you.

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