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Pediatric Physical Therapy: What is It and How Does it Help Kids?

Pediatric physical therapy is a form of medical treatment that focuses on children’s development and well-being. It is essential for pediatricians to understand pediatric physical therapy to identify signs of potential problems in their young patients. Pediatric physical therapists work with kids who have developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or other neurological conditions. The goal is to help the child reach their maximum level of functioning as possible, using exercises and activities that are appropriate for each individual case.


What is Pediatric Physical Therapy (PT)?

A pediatric physical therapist is a specialist in pediatric rehabilitation. An important pediatric physical therapist will teach children how to maintain their health through exercise and other types of therapies.

Types of pediatric physical therapists may include:

  • orthopedic physical therapist
  • sports physical therapist
  • neurological physical therapist
  • developmental pediatrics PT
  • pediatric cardiac PT
  • occupational therapy

Pediatric physical therapists are also employed by pediatricians, pediatric dentists, pediatric ophthalmologists, pediatric surgeons, pediatricians, pediatric urologists, and others. Pediatric physical therapy differs from pediatric occupational therapy and pediatric speech therapy, among other forms of pediatric rehabilitation.


How Does Pediatric Physical Therapy Help Kids?

Pediatric physical therapy helps children who have issues with movement or muscle problems. It also helps children who have been in an accident or suffer from a disease that affects their musculoskeletal system. Pediatric physical therapists use exercise, stretches, and other techniques to help pediatric patients improve mobility and strength.

PT helps pediatric patients by improving their gross and fine motor skills. They can also help with sensory issues such as tactile defensiveness.Physical Therapy For Children

Additionally, pediatric physical therapists use various methods to help pediatric patients. These may include:

  • equipment such as large muscle toys, balls, and tricycles
  • manual techniques such as joint manipulation and mobilization
  • education on how to do exercises or activities in a safe way
  • therapeutic play, which is a type of therapy where pediatric PTs use toys and games to improve pediatric patients’ abilities

Pediatric physical therapists work with pediatric patients on the following skills:

  • Posture
  • Balance (typically used for pediatric PT treatment of babies)
  • Walking (typically used for pediatric PT treatment of pediatric patients with cerebral palsy)
  • Hand and finger movements (typically used for pediatric PT treatment of pediatric patients with cerebral palsy)

Before pediatric physical therapy, pediatric patients often have difficulty walking or performing daily activities. After pediatric physical therapy, pediatric patients may improve their walking time and perform other tasks such as feeding, getting dressed, and brushing their teeth.


What Does Pediatric physical therapy involve?

Pediatric physical therapy (PT) uses therapeutic exercises and activities to enhance motor development in pediatric patients.

There are three main components to pediatric physical therapy:


Developmental care

Firstly, pediatric PT involves several different types of stimuli that help pediatric patients reach developmental milestones. This is called pediatric developmental care. It includes providing pediatric patients with toys or activities that help them develop specific skills or abilities, such as crawling, walking, and running.


Pediatric neuromuscular re-education

Secondly, pediatric PT provides pediatric patients with a range of therapeutic exercises for neuromuscular re-education. These include stretching and strengthening exercises that pediatric PT clinicians can use to help pediatric patients recover from injury or illness.


Pediatric orthopedic evaluation and treatment

Finally, pediatric PT includes pediatric orthopedic evaluation and treatment. This includes pediatric physical therapists using different types of equipment to support pediatric patients during their everyday activities (e.g., crutches).


Who Should Be Getting Physical Therapy

Physical therapy (PT) is a treatment used to help children who cannot move their body parts, such as arms and legs. This also includes those who have difficulties walking or suffer from pain. Usually, pediatric physical therapists work on kids who have suffered an injury or illness that affects their ability to function physically. The pediatric experts start this process by performing tests and observing the child’s mobility and behavior. Then pediatric physical therapists develop a personalized plan designed to improve their patient’s quality of life.

Some pediatric physical therapists even work to prevent problems in children by offering advice. This includes nutrition, exercise, fitness, sports injuries, etc., that are pediatric-related. They also help kids with health problems such as asthma, cancer, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy.

Pediatric physical therapists work closely with pediatricians to create precise pediatric physical therapy plans. This helps the pediatrician determine the correct treatment protocol for each child’s condition.

When pediatric physical therapists (PTs) work with children, they assess their abilities and limitations, such as muscle strength, flexibility, endurance, and gross motor skill development. They want to understand how these things affect everyday life. They also want to know how the child’s environment is involved.


What are Pediatric Physical Therapists?

They are healthcare professionals concerned with the promotion, maintenance, and restoration of pediatric health. PTs evaluate children to make sure they are developing correctly. They also help children participate in activities that encourage their development.

Traditionally, pediatric PTs have worked with infants transitioning from pediatricians to family pediatricians. As pediatric society progress, pediatric PTs have since evolved to work with children from birth through adolescence, regardless of the child’s age or condition.

Current pediatric physical therapist roles include:

  • providing direct care in pediatric settings such as outpatient clinics and schools
  • consulting with physicians and families on issues beyond direct patient care
  • providing pediatric education to families, pediatric healthcare professionals, and the community
  • research aimed at developing evidence for pediatric PT practice

Pediatric physical therapy has become a famous profession. This is because pediatric PTs are needed in many different pediatric settings. They are also needed in private practice outside hospitals or other medical facilities. Professionals who work with pediatric PTs must adapt pediatric treatment to the child and family.

Physician referrals are needed for pediatric PTs to conduct an evaluation. They also need a plan or prescription from your pediatrician if the child receives pediatric physical therapy services at their medical facility. If you’re not sure how to get started, contact your healthcare provider.


Average Cost and Other Tips To Know

Depending on the pediatrician’s referral, your health insurance may cover physical therapy visits. Annual pediatric physical therapy costs can range from $1,000 to $10,000 for one child.

Tips on what you should know about getting your child into therapy:Physical therapist

1. Request pediatric physical therapy for your child when you notice a problem. It is important to start treatment early since pediatric physical therapists can help children gain strength and coordination before developing bad habits that are hard to correct later on.

2. Keep in touch with pediatricians and pediatric physical therapists about your child’s progress during therapy. Ensure you understand and sign any documents pediatricians hand out to ensure your child’s safety during pediatric physical therapy.

3. Keep up with pediatric physical therapy home exercises throughout treatment. Since it can be beneficial to continue working on the same skills at home that your child learns in pediatric physical therapy sessions.


How to Find a Good Pediatric Physical Therapist

Many pediatricians and pediatric hospitals will have a list of pediatric physical therapists they recommend to their patients. If your pediatrician does not have a list, ask them for recommendations. Another option is to visit the American Physical Therapy Association’s website. The site has a state-by-state search function that can be used to find pediatric physical therapists near you. The site also has links to state pediatric physical therapy associations if your pediatrician is not familiar with any local pediatric physical therapists.

When choosing a pediatric physical therapist for your child, make sure to ask about their education, certification, and experience working with children of the age group you are looking for therapy services for. They should also have pediatric-specific training. Pediatric physical therapists work with a range of children, from babies to teens. They work with kids who have neurological and musculoskeletal issues, as well as developmental delays.

Most pediatric physical therapists will start by thoroughly examining your child’s medical history and current status. From there, they will develop a pediatric physical therapy plan that will involve several different types of therapies, depending on your child’s needs.



Children grow and develop at different rates. Suppose you think that your child may need pediatric physical therapy. In that case, the first step is to consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare providers. They can help identify any potential issues. Also, they can recommend a course of treatment for children who may need it to ensure they reach their full potential physically and emotionally as adults.



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