Pediatric physical therapy is a specialized branch of health care. It focuses on helping children to improve their physical abilities and reach critical developmental milestones. This form of therapy is designed for kids who face particular challenges. These challenges include mobility, strength, coordination, balance and overall physical functioning. Challenges can be a result of injuries, surgeries or developmental issues. Pediatric physical therapists are movement and musculoskeletal experts who help children improve their physical abilities.
Benefits of pediatric physical therapy
Parents looking for specialized care for their child’s physical health often turn to pediatric physical therapy. This therapy can help children in many ways. Benefits of pediatric physical therapy include:
- Improved mobility and motor skills — Pediatric physical therapy helps boost a child’s mobility and motor skills. These skills help them learn to crawl, walk, run and do other essential movements. Pediatric physical therapists can use exercises and activities to help strengthen a child’s muscles and improve their coordination. This helps children learn to move through their world with confidence.
- Pain management and relief — Children can deal with chronic conditions, injuries and surgeries. Pediatric physical therapy can help provide them with effective pain management techniques. A variety of methods can be used to help alleviate discomfort. Less discomfort can allow children to engage in their everyday activities more comfortably.
- Balance and coordination — Balance and coordination are crucial for a child’s development. Pediatric physical therapy can help improve a child’s skills to help them move, play, and interact safely with their surroundings.
- Strength and endurance — Pediatric physical therapy can help children build their strength and endurance through tailored exercises and activities. Improved strength and endurance can help children participate in sports, play with their friends and do daily tasks more easily.
- Confidence and independence — As a child makes progress in their physical therapy, they can grow their confidence in their abilities. This confidence can foster independence.
- Special needs care — Pediatric physical therapists are trained to work with children with various special needs. These therapists can provide individualized care, adapting treatment plans to meet the unique needs of each child they work with.
Why a child might need pediatric physical therapy
Children might need pediatric physical therapy for a variety of reasons, including:
- Developmental delays — Some children experience delays in reaching certain developmental milestones. These milestones can include crawling, walking or rolling over. Physical therapists can work with these children to boost their motor skills.
- Orthopedic conditions — Orthopedic conditions like clubfoot, scoliosis or fractures can lead to a child needing physical therapy. Pediatric physical therapy can help children improve their muscle strength and joint mobility.
- Neurological disorders — Pediatric physical therapy can benefit children with neurological disorders like cerebral palsy, spina bifida or brain injuries. Specialized techniques can help improve their muscle control, coordination and balance.
- Muscular dystrophy — Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disorder that weakens muscles over time. Pediatric physical therapy can help maintain and improve muscle strength, mobility, and joint flexibility.
- Pediatric sports injuries — Active children can sustain injuries like sprains, strains or fractures. Approximately 10% of children in sports are injured each year. Pediatric physical therapy can help assist in the rehabilitation process.
- Birth injuries — Birth injuries, like brachial plexus injuries or fractures during delivery, can benefit from early interventions like pediatric physical therapy.
- Other genetic conditions — Genetic conditions like Down syndrome or genetic musculoskeletal disorders may require ongoing therapy to help address challenges, improve motor skills and enhance a child’s overall physical abilities.
What to expect at a pediatric physical therapy appointment
A pediatric physical therapy appointment is set up to be a positive and supportive experience. At your first visit, you can expect a comprehensive initial assessment. This can help your child’s physical therapist understand their physical abilities and areas that need improvement. Based on the evaluation, the physical therapist will create a personalized treatment plan designed around your child’s specific needs. This plan will outline the goals of therapy sessions and the techniques that will be used to help your child succeed. A typical therapy session may look like:
- Engaging exercises and activities — Pediatric sessions often resemble playtime than what you might expect physical therapy sessions to look like. Play-based physical therapy can help keep a child motivated and enthusiastic about their exercises and activities.
- Balance and coordination activities — If your child needs improvement in their balance and coordination, specific exercises may be included. Exercises that can help coordination and balance can consist of lifting, stretching or resistance training.
- Mobility drills — To help enhance your child’s ability to move freely, your child’s physical therapist may use various techniques to help improve your child’s mobility.
- Specialized equipment — Your child’s physical therapist may use specialized equipment designed for pediatric use, including balance boards, balls, resistance bands and climbing structures.
- Progress evaluation — At the end of a session, your child’s physical therapist may discuss your child’s progress and any achievements made. They may also provide you with ways to help support their progress at home by incorporating exercises and activities into daily routines.
Lattimore Physical Therapy is here to help support your child’s growth
At Lattimore Physical Therapy, we care deeply about every child who comes through our doors. We believe in helping every child grow and succeed to meet their highest potential. Our therapy isn’t about just getting better; it’s about having fun and gaining confidence, too! We can work together to help support your child’s development. Lattimore Physical Therapy is here to help every child take confident steps toward a brighter and more active future.
Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.