Physiotherapy Services for Improved Attention and Concentration

Total Health Physio proudly helps children aged 7-18 with strategies to improve their overall ability to attend to classroom activities and daily tasks.

Children across a spectrum of pediatric conditions can experience difficulties with attention. Some of these are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), sensory processing issues, poor sleep hygiene, mood disorders and neurodevelopment types of conditions.

Physiotherapists help improve attention in children by designing structured physical activity routines that enhance focus and cognitive function.

Our physiotherapy services are mobile across Melbourne and we are a caring, NDIS registered provider.

The Relationship Between Physical Activity, Mental Health and Attention

Specific studies have focused on the connection between mental health and physical activity, with the most promising results related to the alleviation of depression and anxiety as well as improved cognitive function.

Anecdotally, from our own experience, we’ve observed that a child’s attention span tends to improve when they engage in activities they genuinely enjoy. By incorporating treatment through enjoyable, play-based activities, we can enhance their ability to focus. This improvement often extends to other tasks because they gain confidence in their capacity to sustain attention for a specific duration.

We can implement timed activities, such as a timed walk test, which also assesses a child’s stamina as well as their ability to focus on a task. When we set achievable goals with enjoyable physical tasks within a set time frame, the child experience a sense of accomplishment. This type of reward pattern for extended efforts contributes to noticeable improvements in attention span.

Examples of Exercises

In our experience children respond best to play based or sport related activities. By focusing on their interests, exercise becomes fun and achievable. Physiotherapy sessions will therefore be goal oriented and have components of the following:

  • Balance exercises, which may involve walking along lines, balancing on one leg, as well as balloon or ball games
  • Gross motor skills, including obstacle courses, ball games, running, and jumping, which may also be timed
  • Fine motor activities, such as picking up and manipulating small objects, leafing through books, drawing and writing
  • Sensory play, incorporating objects with different textures and feedback sounds, which is also especially beneficial for children with vision impairment
  • Interactive games, which use social interaction and sharing of items to improve social

Length of Sessions

While the standard session goes for between 45 minutes to an hour depending on the child’s diagnosed condition/s and abilities, it’s crucial to adjust to the child’s pace, particularly during the initial rapport-building phase. Initially, a child might manage only about 15 minutes of engagement, including rapport-building, exercises, activities, and play. As time goes on, we can slowly increase the session duration as appropriate.

Pushing for a full-hour session immediately can lead to resistance and reluctance for future appointments. Parents often mention their child’s limited attention span, but with the right approach, Physiotherapists can gradually extend it over time, depending on the child’s unique condition and needs.

When the child is ready, the Physiotherapist will aim to establish a tailored Home Exercise Program that can also be performed together with their carer as appropriate in between sessions incorporating the goal oriented tasks established during appointments.

Related Lifestyle Factors

Diet and sleep patterns play a significant role in a person’s overall well-being.

When children, or adults for that matter, enjoy a restful night’s sleep and maintain a healthy diet, they are more likely to have better days and engage in activities for more extended periods.

Blood Sugar Spikes and Crashes: When children consume sugary foods or drinks, their blood sugar levels spike rapidly. This surge in blood sugar provides a quick burst of energy. However, shortly after, the body responds by releasing insulin to bring down the high blood sugar levels which makes the child feel sluggish.

Fluctuations in Insulin: Frequent consumption of sugary foods can lead to a pattern of rapid fluctuations in insulin levels. These fluctuations can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar effectively, contributing to energy crashes and difficulty concentrating.

Inflammation and Brain Fog: High sugar intake has been linked to chronic inflammation in the body. Inflammation in the brain can lead to cognitive difficulties, including reduced attention span and difficulty focusing, often referred to as “brain fog.”

Disrupted Sleep: Consuming sugar, especially close to bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns. Poor sleep quality can lead to daytime fatigue, irritability, and difficulty paying attention.

Monitoring a child’s diet is essential, and sometimes it necessitates involving a Dietitian, particularly when considering sugar intake. In some cases, there may be a connection with comorbidities like diabetes, making sugar intake a crucial factor to track. It’s important to consider these lifestyle factors alongside implementing a physiotherapy treatment plan that focuses on exercise goals.

Our Physio’s Advice to Parents

Some children find that by engaging in physical activity first thing in the morning, combined with a nutritious breakfast sets them up for the day. This morning routine helps them to focus on their tasks with fewer distractions, enhancing productivity.

Alternatively, setting a specific time after school can also be an option for some children, but the critical factor is establishing a consistent routine.

Having a routine is crucial for two reasons: it encourages the child to stick to the Home Exercise Program prescribed by the Physiotherapist, and also transfers this skill of being able to perform a routine to other activities, such as doing their homework!

Whether it’s in the morning or after school, a structured routine is the key to success.

How Does Physiotherapy Help with Attention?

Blood Sugar Spikes and Crashes

When children consume sugary foods or drinks, their blood sugar levels spike rapidly. This surge in blood sugar provides a quick burst of energy. However, shortly after, the body responds by releasing insulin to bring down the high blood sugar levels which makes the child feel sluggish.

Inflammation and Brain Fog

High sugar intake has been linked to chronic inflammation in the body. Inflammation in the brain can lead to cognitive difficulties, including reduced attention span and difficulty focusing, often referred to as “brain fog.”

Fluctuations in Insulin

Frequent consumption of sugary foods can lead to a pattern of rapid fluctuations in insulin levels. These fluctuations can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar effectively, contributing to energy crashes and difficulty concentrating.

Disrupted Sleep

Consuming sugar, especially close to bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns. Poor sleep quality can lead to daytime fatigue, irritability, and difficulty paying attention.

Getting Started with Total Health Physio

We would love to hear from you, please know that

  • We visit you and your child at your home
  • You will be supported by our caring admin team
  • We can provide initial assessments, reviews and sessional Physiotherapy under your child’s NDIS plan
  • We advocate for choice and control

To book an initial assessment, please use our contact page and tell us your story!

Learn more Call Us1800 847 847