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Book Review: Campbell’s Physical Therapy for Children


Shruti Verma


29 March 2018

This text book provides a thorough exploration of, and guide to, the world of paediatric physiotherapy, and is primarily aimed at qualified physiotherapists who may have limited experience within the field of paediatrics. However, it would also benefit those looking for a refresher in the area and, indeed, other health professionals who work with children.

The book covers a range of topics from pre-birth right through to adolescence. The layout is logical, and the recommendations for further reading, as well as useful websites, are very useful for professional development. It starts by covering decision-making in paediatrics, motor development, reflexes and postural control, and discusses the application of motor relearning principles within paediatric physiotherapy practice. This is followed by delivering services to children, plus the assessment and outcome measures used.

Next is the management of musculoskeletal conditions (including sports injury), neurology (including developmental disorders and autistic spectrum disorders), cardiorespiratory, oncology and palliative care. Specialities receive equal weight, with contributions from a wide variety of expert clinicians.

Each chapter presents its subject matter in a clear and concise manner, supported by a strong evidence base and references. Topics are explained using a combination of case studies, photographs, illustrations, tables, diagrams, summaries, references and useful websites.  The case studies in particular help the reader to think critically about the area under discussion, adding a real life clinical perspective which encourages self-reflection and enhances learning.  Campbell presents information in a way that promotes self-questioning and clinical reasoning, rather than providing set methods of assessment and treatment.

The chapter on motor development and control examines the when, how, why, and what of developing motor skills, and how this contributes to effective physical therapy.
The description of the International Classification of Function, Disability, and Health (ICF) with an example is very informative, and emphasises activity rather than functional limitations; participation rather than disability. Using the ICF framework as an assessment tool and to inform treatment goals is also useful.

A large section of the book is dedicated to examination and treatment around various conditions, with a practical chapter on specialist seating which includes many illustrations and photographs to demonstrate appropriate positions and use of aids.

However, it would have been useful to explore and provide the reader with evidence-based information around 24-hour postural care (including the use of sleep systems) as a treatment option for those with moderate to severe physical disability (for example, Gross Motor Function Classification System levels III to V). 

The evidence-based summary box provides a snapshot of examination and treatment strategies that can help the therapist by informing their decision-making process.

The additional online resource in the form of videos complements the contents, making for a lighter read. It means the information can be better understood and absorbed by a visual learner like myself, and I found this resource very easy to access. I also used it as a teaching tool in a team in-service session.

The book is set out so that each chapter is clearly identified in the online version and is well supported by the videos. The side index for the online version also enables the reader to readily locate the information they need.


This comprehensive text provides a detailed view of both the conditions commonly encountered in paediatric practice, as well as guidance on treatment goals, positioning, handling, and interventions. It would provide a valuable reference resource for physiotherapy departments and for clinicians who are interested in the management of the neurologically impaired child. I would not recommend it for the physical therapist who already has expertise in the paediatric field, although it does provide a one stop reference point for most of the paediatric conditions.

Overall it is a great resource, and the mixture of written text and videos makes the book acceisble to different learning methods. 

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