What Is a Pediatric Physical Therapist and What to Expect During an Evaluation?

what is pediatric physical therapy

What is a pediatric physical therapist, and what should you expect during an evaluation or treatment session?

Pediatric physical therapists work with children of all ages, from birth through 18 years old. They help address many different illnesses, injuries, or conditions that limit a child’s ability to move or function in their daily life. Physical therapists help facilitate developmental skills, improve balance and coordination, alleviate pain, ease challenges with daily caregiving, and promote a child’s ability to function independently and safely participate in home, school, and community environments.

What happens during the first appointment?

A physical therapy evaluation is the first step in determining your child’s strengths and challenges. When a child first comes to physical therapy, we do a 1-hour long assessment, which includes discussing parent / caregiver concerns, learning about your child’s medical history, and observing your child moving and playing. We will also perform a hands-on assessment, which may include muscle strength, flexibility, posture, or reflexes. At the end of the appointment, your therapist will discuss their findings with you and may recommend additional therapy services.

What are physical therapy treatments like?

Treatment sessions are typically 30 – 60 minutes, depending on your child’s needs. Sessions look like play-time, and include lots of fun activities that address your child’s goals. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to participate during treatment sessions, so the therapist has time to educate you on activities that you can work on at home. 

Here are some things that the therapist may work on:

  • Muscle strengthening and flexibility
  • Developmental milestones, such as rolling, sitting, crawling, and walking
  • Improving balance, clumsiness, and body awareness
  • Coordination skills, like throwing and catching, jumping, or running
  • Improving posture and trunk strength
  • Helping with independence of overall life skills, such as getting in and out of a car, climbing a ladder, getting up from a floor, or safely stepping off a curb
  • Safety with adaptive equipment, such as walkers, wheelchairs, or stander
  • Decreasing pain and recovering from injuries

In addition to treatments, pediatric physical therapists have many other roles:

  • Assessment for adaptive equipment and orthotics
  • Collaboration with other therapists, healthcare providers, orthotists, and adaptive equipment vendors
  • Recommend community resources or activities, such as adapted sports
  • Consultation services for daycares or preschools

Do you think your child would benefit from physical therapy services? Please do not hesitate to call Infinity Kids today for a free consultation! We hope to meet you and your child soon.