What is Physical Therapy?

What do Physical Therapists do?

Physical therapists (PTs) teach patients how to prevent or manage their condition for long term health benefits and functional independence. They examine each individual and develop a plan utilizing treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs are experts in body mechanics. They are movement specialists, aiding patients in their daily routines and lifestyles.

How does Pediatric PT differ from Adult PT?

Pediatrics naturally differs from adult therapy due to the different needs of the patient populations. Many times adults come to therapy due to back pain, neck pain or post surgery. Their goals typically include decreasing pain, returning to work, or returning to an activity such as golf, soccer, running, etc.

For kids, their “job” is to be a child. Their goals relate to their routines such as playing with others, being able to sit in a classroom, decreasing falls, and development of milestones; sitting, rolling, crawling walking, running etc. In pediatric physical therapy, we focus on the physical aspects and milestones, but also aid with social skills.

Because the pediatric patient is still growing and developing, they need help connecting their brains to their body, meaning telling their body what to do and how to do it. For example, most adults can clap their hands, or jump or kick a ball without thinking about it. Kids are still working to make those connections from their brain to their body. They have to think about “telling” their leg to move up and to kick their foot out while attempting to make contact with the ball.

Does my Child need Physical Therapy?

Many of time those we think those who need PT have a “visible” condition or difficulties such as kids who are diagnosed with toe walking, delayed milestones, or have a neurological condition such as Down’s Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy. We forget that many kids have underlying conditions that aren’t as “visible” or “ easy to see.” Some include hypotonia, W-sitting and clumsiness/frequent falling.

Below are a few conditions/difficulties where Physical Therapy can help!

• Difficulty jumping, running, hopping, skipping
• Difficulty with ball skills – catching, kicking, throwing, bouncing
• Difficulty walking – awkward gait, toe walking, falls frequently
• Difficulty on stairs: bus steps, curbs
• Poor sitting balance in a chair or on a floor
• Slow, labored, poor endurance during physical activity (sports, P.E. Class)
• Stiff and awkward movements
• Left/right confusion
• More clumsy than peers
• Poor desk posture/ tires easily at desk
• Sports related injuries
• Pain – knee, ankle, hip foot, shoulder, etc.