What is Pediatric Physical Therapy?

Pediatric Physical Therapy can help children with a wide variety of issues making their everyday activities easier and improving function.

As parents and caregivers, we want what's best for our children. At Sevita, it's our passion to give children and adolescents the tools they need to succeed and live their best lives.

We know that this is more challenging for some children than others, including those born with medically complex challenges that affect their movement and motor skills. That's where our Pediatric Physical Therapy Programs can help.

What is Pediatric Physical Therapy?

Pediatric physical therapy is a form of physiotherapy that treats children's medical issues and other needs, such as injuries. It can be used to manage several disorders, whether they're congenital (the child is born with them) or acquired conditions. 

Rather than focusing on surgeries or medications, pediatric physical therapy uses different types of massages, movements, heat treatments, and other natural therapies. Pediatric physical therapy can be used in a variety of settings, including: 

  • In-home 
  • School 
  • Daycare
  • Outpatient clinic

What do Pediatric Physical Therapists Do?

Pediatric physical therapists provide care and tools for children with issues such as physical disabilities or injuries. They work closely with the family on an individualized plan of care to help the child reach their goals. This plan will depend on the child and the disorder being treated.

The therapist will determine the right treatment plan for the child's needs by evaluating different aspects of the child's motor skills, including:

  • Flexibility
  • Strength
  • Posture 
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Sensory processing

Once we have assessed the child's needs, a pediatric physical therapist will oversee the entire treatment plan to help the child to move how they want and to make everyday activities enjoyable and as easy as possible. They may also work together with other therapists, recommend specific community resources, adaptive equipment, or orthotics. 

What Does a Typical Session Look Like?

A therapy session will vary depending on the treatment facility chosen. Most sessions consist of children performing age-appropriate activities — similar to ones they would do in school or at home.

This is how a pediatric physical therapist will evaluate a child's motor skills and other aspects listed above. A pediatric therapy environment will have slides, balls, swings, and other toys, depending on the child's age.

The first session will have the initial assessment. This is where the therapist will learn the child's medical history, address any concerns the parents have, and observe the child playing with different toys. There is also typically a hands-on assessment to test flexibility, muscle strength, and more so the therapist can create the right treatment plan for the child's needs. 

Further sessions typically last between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on the child's specific needs. Aside from children playing with different toys and participating in certain activities, therapists may work on various aspects of the child's motor development and skills, including:

  • Developmental milestones (crawling, walking, etc.)
  • Coordination skills, such as throwing or catching a ball 
  • Muscle strengthening
  • Flexibility
  • Posture improvement
  • Promoting independence with certain life skills, such as entering or exiting a car

Why Do Children Need Pediatric Physical Therapy? 

Pediatric physical therapy is often used to treat congenital disorders that cause motor skills issues or development issues. Some of these include:

Pediatric physical therapy can help if a child isn't reaching specific milestones, such as walking or otherwise.

Pediatric physical therapy is also used to treat acquired disorders or injuries, including:

  • Overuse injuries
  • Recovery from sports injuries
  • Muscle weakness
  • Surgery recovery

Emotional Benefits

There are also emotional benefits to pediatric physical therapy. Although children may not be excited about the process, the treatments are often designed to be fun and engaging for the child and help them build confidence in their abilities one step at a time. Pediatric physical therapists will create a treatment plan that helps the child stay motivated and focused on reaching various goals and milestones.

What Role Does Family Play in Pediatric Physical Therapy?

Pediatric physical therapy goes beyond the relationship between the therapist and the child. Parents, siblings, and other family members play a crucial role in any effective treatment plan to make exercises more fun and to keep the child motivated. 

A positive support system and environment can allow for:

  • Easier daily routines
  • Creating more mobility options
  • Staying up to date with resources

Parents can also use safe activities at home to keep up with therapy on days when pediatric therapy isn't scheduled. However, it's important to act on advice from the therapist and not overwork your child. 

How Can Sevita Help with Pediatric Physical Therapy?

At Sevita, we believe that every child deserves a bright and fulfilling future. Whether for developmental challenges or congenital disorders, our Pediatric Health & Rehabilitation services aim to help children and teens learn, grow, and thrive — no matter their needs.

With physical therapists on-site to provide the right treatment and support, we'll develop plans catering to each child's needs. Our physical therapists can serve kids at home, school, daycares, or in our centers — whichever method is most convenient for your family.

Discover more about how we can help children toward the bright future they deserve by calling 800-743-6802 or clicking the link below.

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