What Is Pediatric Physical Therapy?

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If your child struggles with developmental delays, muscle weakness, neurological conditions, or cerebral palsy, you might look into pediatric physical therapy in NJ. Pediatric physical therapy (PPT) can help children improve gross motor skills, increase their range of motion, and develop healthier movement patterns.

So, what is pediatric physical therapy, and how can your child benefit from physical therapy sessions?

What You Need To Know About PPT

Physical therapy, otherwise known as physiotherapy or PT, is a branch of healthcare that seeks to improve mobility and daily functional activities. People who suffer from impaired mobility due to injuries, illnesses, surgery, or congenital disabilities often benefit from working with a skilled physical therapist.

Pediatric physical therapy focuses on children, from infants to teenagers. Pediatric PT targets developmental issues like gross and fine motor skills, balance, and sensory integration. 

What a Pediatric Physical Therapist Does

After parents ask, “What is pediatric physical therapy?” the next logical question is, “What exactly does a pediatric physical therapist do?”

A pediatric physical therapist is a licensed and highly skilled health professional with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, clinical experience, and specialization in pediatrics. Often, pediatric physical therapists focus on helping children with conditions like developmental delays or autism spectrum disorders. Others may have more experience working with patients recovering from injuries or surgery.

A pediatric PT will work with children during in-office appointments and teach children and parents about different techniques and exercises to practice at home. Pediatric physical therapists usually collaborate with other professionals on the patient’s healthcare team, like doctors, nurses, and occupational therapists.

How Children Benefit from Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help children improve flexibility, strength, coordination, balance, movement patterns, and range of movements. Many children experience a dramatic improvement in their quality of life and overall well-being when they start physical therapy. Physical therapy can help a child function in everyday life, play sports, and engage in other meaningful activities. 

Children who wear orthotics or prosthetics, use wheelchairs, or rely on other adaptive equipment often benefit from PT as they learn techniques and exercises that help them overcome their physical limitations and develop confidence.

Some congenital conditions that could improve with physical therapy include cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, autism, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, hypotonia, and cystic fibrosis. Physical therapy can also help after traumatic brain injuries, back injuries, fractures, orthopedic surgery, and sports injuries.

What a Typical Physical Therapy Session Looks Like

What a child does during a physical therapy session depends on their age and condition. Very young children and those with cognitive disabilities may not understand they are in treatment.

In these cases, a PT appointment looks like a play session, during which the pediatric physical therapist encourages the child to explore fun activities. Balls, trampolines, hoops, foam rollers, balance beams, and various toys can all serve as aids for physical therapy.

Children with sensory issues or those afraid of new environments will often respond better if a parent or another trusted adult joins them during the session. The physical therapist will focus on creating a safe, enjoyable space for the child to keep them engaged and motivate them to participate in therapy.

A physical therapy session can take place at home, in school, at daycare centers, and in outpatient clinics.

Schedule an Appointment With a Pediatric Physical Therapist Today

For many, the answer to “What is pediatric physical therapy?” is “Life-changing therapy care for children who struggle with movement.”

At Exchange Physical Therapy Group, we take a holistic, patient-centric approach to PT. Our skilled pediatric physical therapists will propose a holistic care plan that may include physical exercises for balance problems, strengthening and coordination exercises, and other PPT techniques to help improve your child’s quality of life. Call us today to learn more about these and other PT-related issues or schedule an appointment at one of our locations in Hudson County, NJ.