Pediatric Physical Therapy: What is it and how does it help children? (2023)

Pediatric physical therapy is a form of medical treatment that focuses on the development and health of children. Pediatricians must understand pediatric physical therapy to recognize signs of underlying problems in younger patients. Pediatric physical therapists work with children with developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or other neurological disorders. The aim is to help children achieve their maximum level of functioning through exercises and activities tailored to each individual case.

What is Pediatric Physical Therapy (PT)?

Pediatric physical therapists are specialists in pediatric rehabilitation. Top pediatric physical therapists will teach kids how to stay healthy through exercise and other types of therapy.

Types of pediatric physical therapists may include:

  • Orthopedic Physiotherapist
  • Sports Physiotherapist
  • neurophysiotherapist
  • Developmental Pediatrics EN
  • CN Cardiac Pediatrics
  • occupational therapy

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

How does pediatric physical therapy help children?

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

PT helps pediatric patients by improving gross and fine motor skills. They can also help with sensory issues like tactile defenses.Pediatric Physical Therapy: What is it and how does it help children? (1)

(Video) How can a Pediatric Physical Therapist help my child?

Additionally, pediatric physical therapists use a variety of methods to help pediatric patients. These can include:

  • Equipment such as big muscle toys, balls and tricycles
  • Manual techniques such as manipulation and joint mobilization
  • Education on how to perform an exercise or activity safely
  • Therapy play, a form of therapy where pediatric PTs use toys and games to improve skills in pediatric patients

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

  • posture
  • Scales (often used for pediatric PT therapy in infants)
  • Walking (often used in pediatric PT for children with cerebral palsy)
  • Hand and finger movements (often used in pediatric PT for children with cerebral palsy)

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

What does pediatric physical therapy include?

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

Pediatric physical therapy consists of three main components:

development care

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

Pediatric Neuromuscular Re-education

Second, pediatric PTs provide pediatric patients with a range ofTherapeutic exercises for neuromuscular reeducation.This includes stretches and strengthening exercises that pediatric PT clinicians can use to help pediatric patients recover from injury or illness.

(Video) What do Pediatric Physical Therapists do?

Pediatric Orthopedic Evaluation and Treatment

Finally, pediatric PT includes pediatric orthopedic evaluation and treatment. This includes pediatric physical therapists, who use different types of equipment to support pediatric patients in their daily activities (such as crutches).

Who Should Get Physical Therapy

Physical therapy (PT) is a type of treatment used to help children who cannot move body parts such as arms and legs. This also includes those who have trouble walking or suffer from pain. Typically, pediatric physical therapists treat children whose physical functions have been affected by injury or illness. The pediatric specialist begins the process by administering tests and observing the child's mobility and behavior. The pediatric physical therapist then develops an individualized plan aimed at improving the patient's quality of life.

Some pediatric physical therapists even prevent problems in children by giving advice. This includes pediatrics-related nutrition, exercise, fitness, sports injuries, and more. They also help children with health issues such as asthma, cancer, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.

Pediatric physical therapists work closely with pediatricians to develop an accurate pediatric physical therapy plan. This helps the pediatrician determine the correct treatment plan for each child's situation.

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

What is a Pediatric Physical Therapist?

They are health professionals concerned with promoting, maintaining and restoring pediatric health. PTs evaluate children to make sure they are developing normally. They also help children participate in activities that encourage their development.

Pediatric PTs have traditionally worked with infants transitioning from a pediatrician to a family pediatrician. As the pediatric society has advanced, pediatric PTs have evolved to work with children from birth through adolescence, regardless of the child's age or condition.

(Video) Pediatric Physical Therapy

Current pediatric physical therapist roles include:

  • Provide direct care in pediatric settings such as outpatient clinics and schools
  • Consult physicians and family members on issues outside of direct patient care
  • Pediatric education for families, pediatric healthcare professionals, and the community
  • Research designed to provide evidence for pediatric physical therapy practice

Pediatric physical therapy has become a prestigious specialty. This is because many different pediatric settings require pediatric PTs. They are also needed in private practices outside of hospitals or other medical facilities. Professionals working in pediatric PD must tailor pediatric care to the child and family.

Pediatric PTs require a medical referral for evaluation. If the child has it, they also need a pediatrician's plan or prescriptionPhysical Therapy Servicesin their medical institutions. If you are not sure how to start, please contact your doctor.

Average cost and other need-to-know tips

Your health insurance may cover physical therapy visits based on a referral from your pediatrician. Pediatric physical therapy costs can range from $1,000 to $10,000 per year for a child.

Tips for getting your child into treatment:Pediatric Physical Therapy: What is it and how does it help children? (2)

1. When you notice a problem, see your child for pediatric physical therapy. Starting treatment early is important because a pediatric physical therapist can help children gain strength and coordination before they develop bad habits that are difficult to break later.

2. Stay in touch with your pediatrician and pediatric physical therapist to see how your child is progressing during treatment. Make sure you understand and sign all documents issued by your pediatrician to ensure your child's safety during pediatric physical therapy.

(Video) Inpatient Pediatric Rehabilitation at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

3. Follow the Pediatric Physiotherapy Home Exercises throughout the treatment. It may be beneficial to continue learning at home the same skills your child learned in pediatric physical therapy classes.

How to Find a Good Pediatric Physical Therapist

Many pediatricians and pediatric hospitals maintain a list of pediatric physical therapists they recommend to their patients. If your pediatrician doesn't have a list, seek advice. Another option is to visit the American Physical Therapy Association website. The site features a state-by-state search that can be used to find a pediatric physical therapist near you. If your pediatrician is not familiar with any local pediatric physical therapists, the site also provides links to state pediatric physical therapy associations.

When selecting a pediatric physical therapist for your child, be sure to ask about their education, credentials, and experience working with children the age of the child you are seeking therapeutic services for. They must also have specialized pediatric training. Pediatric physical therapists work with a variety of children from infants to teens. They work with children with neurological and musculoskeletal problems and developmental delays.

Most pediatric physical therapists will start by taking a comprehensive look at your child's medical history and current situation. From there, they'll develop a pediatric physical therapy plan that will involve several different types of therapy, depending on your child's needs.

in conclusion

Children grow and develop at different rates. Let's say you think your child may need pediatric physical therapy. In this case, the first step is to consult your physician or other qualified health professional. They can help identify potential problems. Additionally, they can recommend a program of therapy for children in need to ensure they reach their full physical and emotional potential as adults.


(Video) Pediatric Physical Therapy


Pediatric Physical Therapy: What is it and how does it help children? ›

What is pediatric physical therapy? Pediatric physical therapy treatments often focus on helping children reach developmental milestones, improving mobility or easing pain. Treatment is especially important for children because they are still developing.

What are the benefits of pediatric physical therapy? ›

Physical therapy (PT) is incredibly beneficial for improving strength, flexibility, independence and range of motion. Pediatric physical therapy can help children recover from injuries, reduce chronic pain, develop motor skills, manage symptoms of medical conditions and prevent or reduce further disease progression.

What is the primary goal in pediatric physical therapy? ›

What is the overall goal of pediatric Physical Therapy? The overall goal is to have each child develop to be able to function consistent with developmental milestones consistent with their particular age and beyond.

What are the responsibilities of a pediatric physical therapist? ›

Your main responsibility as a pediatric physical therapist will be to improve children's motor development, strength, range of motion, endurance, balance, coordination, gait difficulties, heart and lung endurance, and delayed motor development.

Why is pediatric therapy important? ›

Pediatric occupational therapy helps to reduce the level of impact that chronic or acute medical conditions have on a child's life and on their overall growth and development. These issues can include: Speech deficits due to neurological disorders, physical deformities, or delayed development.

What are 3 benefits of physical activity for children? ›

Regular physical activity can help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions such as: Heart disease. Cancer.

What are the four 4 main goals of a physical therapist? ›

Relieve pain. Improve movement or ability. Prevent or recover from a sports injury. Prevent disability or surgery.

What techniques are used in pediatric physical therapy? ›

Techniques Used in Pediatric PT
  • Craniosacral Therapy. CranioSacral Therapy (CST) was pioneered and developed by osteopathic physician John E. ...
  • Exercise & Strengthening Therapy. ...
  • Feldenkrais Method® ...
  • Kinesio Taping Method. ...
  • Lymph Drainage.
  • Myofascial Release Therapy. ...
  • Neuro-Developmental Therapy (NDT)
  • Sensory Processing Therapy.

What is the number one goal of physical therapy? ›

The aim of physical therapy is to relieve pain, help you move better or strengthen weakened muscles. Another important goal is to show patients what they can do themselves to improve their own health.

What are physical responsibilities of a child? ›

Physical responsibility means the rights and responsibilities to provide routine daily care and control of the child subject to the right of the other parent to have contact with the child. Physical responsibility may be held solely or may be divided or shared.

What roles do physical therapists play? ›

Physical therapists are experts in movement science, who provide evaluation and interventions, and facilitate pain management, to help patients prevent or recover from injury, illness or disease, and to restore or improve function.

What is the highest paid pediatric physical therapist? ›

Hourly rates for pediatric physical therapists in the US typically range between $26 and $49 an hour. The average pediatric physical therapist salary is $103,485 in Washington, $99,100 in California, and $96,549 in Massachusetts. These are the three highest-paying states for pediatric physical therapists in the US.

What is pediatric therapy? ›

Pediatric therapy's purpose is to assist children in playing, learning, and functioning in developmentally appropriate ways. Pediatric therapy tackles psychological, social, and environmental elements that affect a child's capacity to function in addition to physical well-being.

What are the benefits of pediatric occupational therapy? ›

Pediatric occupational therapy helps children gain independence while also strengthening the development of fine motor skills, sensory motor skills, and visual motor skills that children need to function and socialize.

Why is early therapy important? ›

Therapy during these years is highly effective because therapists can identify and address developmental delays before they grow into more serious difficulties later in life. In short, early intervention will enable your child to thrive.

How often should children get physical activities? ›

Children ages 3 through 5 years need to be active throughout the day. Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 need to be active for 60 minutes every day.

What are 4 major benefits of physical activity? ›

Being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.

What are 5 physical benefits of physical activity? ›

Regular exercise and physical activity may:
  • Help you control your weight. ...
  • Reduce your risk of heart diseases. ...
  • Help your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels. ...
  • Help you quit smoking. ...
  • Improve your mental health and mood. ...
  • Help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age.
Aug 30, 2017

What activities improve a child's physical development? ›

You can include running, jumping, balancing, throwing, catching and other fun actions like jump roping or hula hooping. You can encourage children to race against their own time to improve skill, resilience, and intrinsic motivation. Yoga helps strengthen muscles and develop coordination and balance.

How does lack of exercise affect child development? ›

Research indicates that inactive children are likely to become inactive adults, putting young people at risk of developing life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and cancer. This is why it's important to encourage exercise and keeping fit from a young age.

What are the 5 stages of child development? ›

Five Stages of Child Development
  • Newborn. During the first month of life, newborns exhibit automatic responses to external stimuli. ...
  • Infant. Infants develop new abilities quickly in the first year of life. ...
  • Toddler. ...
  • Preschool. ...
  • School age.
Sep 26, 2018

What are the 7 core values of physical therapy? ›

Physical therapist practice is guided by a set of seven core values: accountability, altruism, compassion/caring, excellence, integrity, profes- sional duty, and social responsibility.

When should you stop physical therapy? ›

In general, you should attend physical therapy until you reach your PT goals or until your therapist—and you—decide that your condition is severe enough that your goals need to be re-evaluated. Typically, it takes about 6 to 8 weeks for soft tissue to heal, so your course of PT may last about that long.

What is the most important responsibility of a physical therapist? ›

Physical therapists evaluate and record a patient's progress. Physical therapists help injured or ill people improve movement and manage pain. They are often an important part of preventive care, rehabilitation, and treatment for patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries.

How does physical therapy help children with autism? ›

Physical therapy includes activities and exercises that build motor skills and improve strength, posture, and balance. For example, this type of therapy aims to help a child build muscle control and strength so that he or she can play more easily with other children.

How do you perform a physical assessment on a child? ›

The infant or child's face should be symmetrical; observe for nutritional status, hygiene, mental alertness, and body posture and movements; examine the skin for color, lesions, bruises, scars, and birthmarks; observe hair texture, thickness, and distribution. Noting psychological status and behavior.

What techniques do you need to assess a pediatric patient? ›

2. Use the pediatric assessment triangle
  • Is the child alert, agitated, sleepy or unresponsive in regards to their appearance?
  • Is their airway open?
  • How is their work of breathing?
  • Do you hear any sounds from them breathing?
  • What is their respiratory rate?
  • Do you see an accessory muscle use?
Mar 7, 2016

Why is physical therapy so effective? ›

Strengthen: Strengthening exercises help strengthen surrounding musculature, which can help reduce strain on joints. Physical therapy will help you strengthen the muscles associated with your injury as well as surrounding muscles. Often, strength imbalances lead to injury.

Who would benefit from physical therapy? ›

Some people believe that physical therapy (PT) is only beneficial for athletes, people recovering from surgery, or severe injury, but that's not true. PT helps people of all ages who have medical or physical conditions that limit their regular abilities or functions.

What are the benefits of physical therapy? ›

Top 5 Benefits of Physical Therapy
  • Physical Therapy Can Help You Recover From a Traumatic Event. ...
  • Physical Therapy Can Lower Your Risk of Aggravating Your Injury. ...
  • Physical Therapy Can Improve Mobility and Balance. ...
  • Physical Therapy Can Reduce Chronic Pain. ...
  • Physical Therapy Can Help Improve Athletic Performance.
Sep 12, 2019

What are the 5 basic physical needs of a child? ›

Kids must feel safe and sound, with their basic survival needs met: shelter, food, clothing, medical care and protection from harm.

What are examples of children's physical needs? ›

A young child's basic physical needs, include:
  • Food (nutritious and age-appropriate)
  • Shelter (protection from harm)
  • Warmth.
  • Clean air and environment.
  • Health and dental care.
  • Activity and rest.

What emotional needs does a child have? ›

Love, security and acceptance should be at the heart of family life. Children need to know that your love does not depend on his or her accomplishments. Mistakes and/or defeats should be expected and accepted. Confidence grows in a home that is full of unconditional love and affection.

How does physical therapy work? ›

Physical therapy is all about restoring movement. It works because of the therapist's expertise and knowledge of how the body functions as an integrated system. Individualized, corrective exercises and modalities are then applied by the therapist to optimize recovery.

Who do physical therapists work with the most? ›

Physical therapists work with people who have experienced an injury or disease that has affected their movement and range of motion. A physical therapist will examine a patient then create a recovery plan. They often focus on treatments that reduce the need for surgery and prescriptive drugs.

Where do physical therapists make the most money? ›

Highest-Paying Industries for Physical Therapists
IndustryAnnual Mean Salary
Home Health Care Services$105,510
Child Day Care Services$102,050
Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals$101,290
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)$100,760
1 more row
Sep 15, 2022

What is the lowest paid physical therapist? ›

How Much Does a Physical Therapist Make? Physical Therapists made a median salary of $95,620 in 2021. The best-paid 25% made $101,920 that year, while the lowest-paid 25% made $77,750.

Where do child therapists make the most money? ›

Health care is the highest-paying industry for child and adolescent therapists in the US.

How much do pediatric physical therapists make in the US? ›

The average Pediatric Physical Therapist salary in the United States is $81,197 as of May 01, 2023, but the salary range typically falls between $75,106 and $87,733.

What happens in therapy for kids? ›

In therapy, kids learn by doing. With younger kids, this means working with the whole family, drawing, playing, and talking. For older kids and teens, therapists share activities and ideas that focus on learning the skills they need. They talk through feelings and solve problems.

How do I know if my baby needs physical therapy? ›

6 Signs Your Child Might Need Physical Therapy
  1. Baby prefers to turn head only to one side. ...
  2. Baby is not bearing weight on legs by 6 months. ...
  3. Baby is not sitting by 8 months. ...
  4. Baby is not crawling by 12 months. ...
  5. Baby is not walking by 18 months. ...
  6. Child only walks on tip toes for more than 6 months.
Aug 26, 2019

What do neurological physical therapists do? ›

A neurologically-trained physical therapist specializes in the evaluation and treatment of individuals with movement problems related to disease or injury of the nervous system.

How do I know if my child needs occupational therapy? ›

If your child is challenged by one of the following, you may want to consult an occupational therapist: Unable to concentrate and focus at school. Easily distracted. Difficulty following instructions and completing work.

What is the difference between OT and PT? ›

The most basic difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy is that a PT focuses on improving the patient's ability to move their body whereas an OT focuses on improving the patient's ability to perform activities of daily living.

What happens if autism is not treated? ›

Untreated autism causes changes in brain function that make it more difficult for the person to control impulsive behavior or think rationally about their actions before they act on them. This can lead to situations where ASD adults are unable to live alone and take care of themselves without assistance.

Who can diagnose autism in a child? ›

You could speak to:
  • a GP.
  • a health visitor (for children under 5)
  • any other health professional you or your child see, such as another doctor or therapist.
  • special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) staff at your child's school.

What age do you get tested for autism? ›

ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months of age or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adolescents or adults.

What are the benefits of physical health for children? ›

The benefits of physical activity for children
  • improved cardiovascular fitness (heart and lungs)
  • maintenance of a healthy weight.
  • improved posture.
  • better sleep patterns.
  • increased self-esteem and confidence.
  • improved concentration.
  • help with relaxation.
  • building stronger bones and muscles.

What are four benefits of physical therapy? ›

Benefits of physical therapy

pain management with reduced need for opioids. avoiding surgery. improved mobility and movement. recovery from injury or trauma.

How does physical health affect child development? ›

Regular physical activity helps develop your child's fundamental movement skills (i.e. physical literacy). In addition to helping maintain a healthy body weight physical activity can help build healthy bones, muscles, heart and lungs. Physical activity also helps your child keep a healthy body weight.

What are 3 benefits of good physical health? ›

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.

What is the main goal of physical therapy? ›

Physical therapists examine each person and then develops a treatment plan to improve their ability to move, reduce or manage pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Physical therapists can have a profound effect on people's lives.

How effective is physical therapy? ›

According to the Arthritis Foundation, physical therapy can help improve mobility and restore the use of affected joints, increase overall strength to help support joints, and maintain fitness levels.

What are the three goals of physical therapy? ›

Specifically, physical therapy looks to achieve these objectives for their patients:
  • Relieve pain.
  • Improve movement or ability.
  • Prevent or recover from a sports injury.
  • Prevent disability or surgery.
  • Rehab after a stroke, accident, injury, or surgery.
  • Work on balance to prevent a slip or fall.

Why would a child receive occupational therapy? ›

OT helps kids play, improves their school performance, and aids their daily activities. It also boosts their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. With OT, kids can: Develop fine motor skills so they can grasp and release toys and develop good handwriting or computer skills.

What is the purpose of occupational therapy for children? ›

Occupational therapy (OT) helps kids who have a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability. It helps them do everyday things like eating, putting on shoes and socks, focusing on learning, writing, and playing with toys or other kids.

What is Paediatric occupational therapy? ›

What is Paediatric Occupational Therapy? Paediatric Occupational Therapy or OT focuses on helping children of all ages with physical, sensory, or cognitive challenges be as independent as possible in all areas of their lives.

What is the most important part of physical therapy? ›

The aim of physical therapy is to relieve pain, help you move better or strengthen weakened muscles. Another important goal is to show patients what they can do themselves to improve their own health.

What are the pros and cons of physical therapist? ›

What Are the Pros and Cons of Physical Therapy
  • PROS: Physical therapy can help someone avoid surgery and pain, learn to. ...
  • CONS: Physical therapy costs money (health insurance usually covers some or. ...
  • PROS vs CONS: Overall, the PROS of attending physical therapy far outweigh.


1. Pediatric Physical Therapy | How it can help your child
(Metro Physical Therapy)
2. What is Pediatric Physical Therapy
3. Pediatric Physical Therapy
(Spooner PT)
4. Day In the Life of a Pediatric Physical Therapist
(Stefanie Anna)
5. Why Kids Place for Pediatric Therapy
(Arizona Orthopedic Physical Therapy & Kids Place)
6. Pediatric physical therapy to empower all children with disabilities


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