What is Pediatric Physical Therapy?

Pediatric physical therapists (PTs) work with children and their families to assist each child in reaching their maximum potential to function independently and to promote active participation in home, school, and community environments. Physical therapists have expertise in movement, motor development, and body function (eg, strength and endurance). They apply clinical reasoning during examination, evaluation, diagnosis, and intervention for children, youth, and teens. As primary health care providers, PTs also promote health and wellness as they implement a wide variety of supports in collaboration with families, communities, and other medical, educational, developmental, and rehabilitation specialists.

What Role Does the Family Play?

Parents and families have the primary role in their child’s development. Our pediatric PTs collaborate with families to promote development and implement an individualized intervention program. Families are supported through coordination of services, advocacy, and assistance to enhance the development of their child. This can include:
  • Positioning during daily routines and activities
  • Adapting toys for play
  • Expanding mobility options
  • Using equipment effectively
  • Facilitating safety for the home and community
  • Accessing community programs and resources
  • Providing information on the child’s physical and health care needs
  • Supporting family caregiving
  • Smoothing transitions from early childhood to school and into adult life

The process of supporting children and families begins with an interview, or conversation, to identify the child’s needs and family’s concerns and continues with an examination and evaluation of the child in the context of their daily routines and activities. This examination may include, but not be limited to, mobility, sensory and neuromotor development, use of assistive technology, muscle and joint function, strength and endurance, cardiopulmonary status, posture and balance. The process of providing pediatric physical therapy continues with collaboration, consultation, and intervention.


Physical Therapy Helps Improve:

  • Strength
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Postural alignment and control
  • Motor planning and control
  • Range of motion
  • Gait pattern
  • Endurance

Who is Appropriate for Physical Therapy?

  • Children of all ages, 0 to 18 years old
  • Children with neurological, genetic, developmental, & orthopedic concerns

Diagnosis Treated Include, But Not Limited To:

  • Developmental Delay
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Torticollis
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Spina Bifida
  • Down Syndrome
  • Genetic Syndromes
  • Coordination Disorders
  • Minor sports related injuries
  • Toe Walking
  • Scoliosis

Looking For More Information?

The Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy has the answers.

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