What is Pediatric Physical Therapy?
By Ila Suplizio, PT, DPT, MFDc
Did you know that physical therapy is a very wide and broad field? Physical therapists can become specialized in many different areas of interest, including orthopedics, sports, pediatrics, neurologic and vestibular conditions, cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions, hand therapy, women's health and pelvic floor health, geriatrics, clinical elecrophysiology, and more!
At Family Physical Therapy, we are excited to offer treatment for many different specialty populations!
This week on our What is Physical Therapy mini-series, we are discussing a field of physical therapy we often get asked about- Pediatrics!
While visiting Family Physical Therapy, you may have heard the laughter (and sometimes the tears) of our very young patients.
Many times, patients inquire about what the benefits of physical therapy are when they see such young children and babies in our clinic. While we always respect the medical privacy of the child and family and do not disclose their diagnosis, we are happy to provide a little information about the exciting world of pediatric physical therapy!
Did you know physical therapy is available for all ages?! Even premature babies in the NICU can receive physical therapy services to help their development!
Physical therapy for children incorporates the same general fundamentals of physical therapy, but also includes the additional specific concerns of the growing and developing child. From infancy, a child can experience developmental, neurologic, orthopedic, or cardiac conditions that affect their development.
Some of the more common reasons an infant or child are in need of physical therapy are:
What’s with the fun and games?
The relationship between a physical therapist and a child is important to help the child with their progress! Pediatric physical therapists often incorporate play-based interventions so that the child has fun while recovering. If you see our pediatric physical therapist playing on the floor, setting up obstacle courses, or playing sport-related games, chances are they are actually engaging the child in very specific therapy!
What about the family?
We believe the family is an integral role in the care of a child, and you will often see us incorporating siblings and parents into the fun!
A good pediatric physical therapist should work with the child and the family to establish their personal goals, and help the child reach their maximum age-appropriate independence. The PT often helps the family establish a home program to continue advancing the child, choosing appropriate toys for play, helping with best positioning and daily activity choices, making sure the home environment is safe and enriching, and helping the family transition the child into adolescent and adult-life.
Why do I love pediatrics?
Every child is so unique and I love to use my professional knowledge to help guide a child to reaching their highest potential. Sometimes working with children can be challenging because they do not always understand why they need physical therapy (especially the infants!), but I think it is so important to learn about the child as an individual and incorporate their own desires, interests, and goals into our therapy practice. Learning to communicate and connect with children is a really special aspect of my physical therapy practice, and I enjoy watching kids grow and blossom with everything they learn in physical therapy! I also really enjoy learning about advancing treatments for children, and have recently taken advanced courses on infant torticollis, childhood and adolescent hip disorders, and a really fun class on infant and pediatric massage.
If you would like more information on pediatrics at Family Physical Therapy, or pediatric physical therapy in general, please check out these links: