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What every parent should know about pediatric physical therapy

pediatric physical therapy
3 minutes, 16 seconds

Physical therapy has many benefits for adults. It can reduce pain, improve mobility, and help patients to recover from a range of illnesses and events (surgery, stroke, etc.). But PT isn’t just for grown-ups — it can be a helpful resource for kids, too.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about pediatric physical therapy. We’ll explain what a pediatric physical therapist does, what kids do in PT sessions and how it could benefit your child.

What does a pediatric physical therapist do?

Pediatric physical therapists are experts in the field of physical therapy, just like those who treat adults. They typically work with children who have disabilities, developmental delays, or other conditions that affect their movement and motor skills. They also work with kids who are recovering from injuries or surgery.

Pediatric physical therapists help children develop and improve their gross motor skills, such as walking, running, jumping and climbing. They also help children improve their fine motor skills by working on activities like drawing or using a computer mouse.

What does a pediatric physical therapy session look like?

Every PT session is different, and the treatments used depend on your child’s condition. If they are recovering from surgery, for example, the physical therapist will walk your child through exercises designed to help them strengthen their recovering muscles to reduce pain. If they have a gait disorder, the therapist will work with them to improve their posture and balance. Some PT sessions involve specialized modalities like aquatic therapy, which is for patients whose conditions make it difficult to exercise on dry land.

The benefits of pediatric physical therapy

Here are some of the ways that physical therapy can help children:

  • Strengthens and increases flexibility.
  • Helps children achieve developmental milestones, such as rolling over, sitting up, grabbing, crawling and walking.
  • Improves balance and coordination.
  • Assists in the development of crucial life skills, such as walking down stairs or sitting down or up from a chair.
  • Teaches children how to use adaptive equipment, such as wheelchairs and walkers.
  • Aids in pain management and injury recovery.
  • Improves posture.
  • Educates parents on their child’s musculoskeletal health.

What types of children need pediatric physical therapy?

If your child meets any of the criteria listed below, they may benefit from seeing a physical therapist:

  • Suffered an injury (sports related or not).
  • Experiencing developmental delays (e.g., not walking at an age when they should be).
  • Not hitting the CDC’s milestones.
  • Having a genetic disorder, such as Down syndrome.
  • Having a neurological condition, such as cerebral palsy.
  • At a high risk of falling due to gait or balance disorders.

It’s important to note that this is not an exhaustive list of reasons to take your child to physical therapy. If you think your child might benefit from seeing a PT specialist, visit one.

How to choose the right pediatric physical therapist

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re shopping around for PT specialists:

  1. Specialty — Does the therapist treat the specific conditions for which your child needs treatment? 
  2. Credentials — Are they licensed to practice physical therapy in your state?
  3. Treatment options — Do they even treat children in their office? If so, do they offer all the services your child needs (e.g., aquatic therapy)?
  4. Insurance — Do they accept your health care plan, or will you have to pay out of pocket? Also, will they submit your claim to your insurer or will you have to do that?
  5. Location — Is your physical therapist located in traveling distance from your home? (Tip: Alliance PTP has clinics all over the country, making it easy to find treatment for your child wherever you live.)

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch pediatric physical therapy for your child

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can provide pediatric physical therapy for the children in your family.

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Come find a physical therapist who can help treat your child’s injuries or chronic conditions.

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