What is Pediatric Physical Therapy?

Pediatric physical therapists (PTs) work with children and their families to assist each child in reaching their maximum potential to function independently and to promote active participation in home, school, and community environments. Physical therapists use their expertise in movement and apply clinical reasoning through the process of examination, evaluation, diagnosis, and intervention. As primary health care providers, PTs also promote health and wellness as they implement a wide variety of supports for children from infancy through adolescence in collaboration with their families and other medical, educational, developmental, and rehabilitation specialists. Pediatric physical therapy promotes independence, increases participation, facilitates motor development and function, improves strength and endurance, enhances learning opportunities, and eases challenges with daily caregiving. 

​How Can Your Child Receive Pediatric  Physical Therapy?
 The process of supporting children and families begins with an interview, or conversation, to identify the child’s needs and family’s concerns and continues with an examination and evaluation of the child in the context of their daily routines and activities. This evaluation may include, but not be limited to, mobility, sensory and neuromotor development, use of assistive technology, muscle and joint function, strength and endurance, cardiopulmonary status, posture and balance, and oral motor skills. The process of providing pediatric physical therapy continues with collaboration, consultation, and interventions in natural learning environments, including home, child care centers, preschools, schools, job sites, recreational centers, and other community settings. Children and families also may have contact with pediatric PTs in hospitals and clinics when receiving physical therapy for medical conditions, specialty health care services, or during episodes of acute care. Physical therapist assistants may be involved with the delivery of physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a licensed PT.

How Is Pediatric Physical Therapy Different from “Regular” Physical Therapy?

Pediatric physical therapy is a specialized form of physical therapy, provided by clinicians who have specific training in this area. It incorporates knowledge from several dimensions of practice – mainly neurological, orthopedic and developmental. Unlike adults, young children may not understand exactly why they're in therapy; play, family involvement and one-on-one care are essential tools for success.

What can Milestone physical therapists do for you?

Milestone’s pediatric physical therapy specialists deal with the wide variety of diagnoses that may affect your child’s overall development from 0-21 years of age. Depending on the age, disability, and setting, the role of the pediatric physical therapist differs greatly. One role that never changes, regardless of the setting, is the therapist becoming an advocate for both the child and their family.

Pediatric physical therapists help to ensure that your child’s physical performance in everyday functional activities is at its best.

Therapists help your child in a variety of ways, relying on their expert knowledge of the neurological, musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, and integumentary (skin) systems. Some examples of goals include achieving age-appropriate developmental milestones, better participation in gross motor activities through improving range of motion, strength, mobility, posture, balance, endurance, and coordination for independent function, and lastly, the ability to actively participate and contribute to society as a whole.

 Treating your child includes examining, evaluating, and assessing the areas in which your child may have difficulty functioning and then incorporating activities to address these areas. After examining your child, the therapist will develop an evaluation of their findings using any combination of standardized tests, observations, and/or clinical expertise.

Once an assessment has been reached, your therapist will discuss their findings with you and educate you on your child’s needs; educating caregivers (and your child when possible) on the nature or extent of injury, disability, and the prognosis is an essential component of Milestone’s views on pediatric physical therapy and helps to keep the caregiver involved and informed of the child’s progress. You will also review the plan of care with your therapist, which will entail a discussion of the number of visits, frequency, duration of physical therapy, prognosis, and home activities you must do with your child to help them excel.

Together, you will then create a plan that is specific to your child’s goals and/or the family’s goals.

Activities in the form of play are provided to help your child be better motivated to reach his or her goals. Your role as a caregiver and your compliance with your child’s home program are extremely important for a successful plan of care. Type your paragraph here.