Pediatric physical therapists are specifically trained to improve the lives and daily function of children who suffer from a wide range of injuries and congenital conditions. The role of a pediatric therapist is to work with the child and their family to assist each child to reach his/her maximum potential to function independently and to promote active participation at home, in school, and in the community. Pediatric patients range from infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to teenage competitive athletes, specifically 0-18 years of age, as well as, young adults with childhood disorders.
What conditions can be treated with pediatric physiotherapy?
There are many familiar childhood disorders and diseases that present with movement dysfunction and motor skill issues that can be treated by physical therapy. These include:
- Cerebral palsy,
- Down’s syndrome,
- Muscular dystrophy and associated disorders,
- Spina bifida,
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis,
- Cardio-pulmonary disorders,
- Cystic fibrosis,
- Traumatic brain injury.
Additionally, many children have hypotonia and developmental coordination disorder, but no “formal” diagnosis.
Orthopedic conditions can also be treated with physiotherapy, including:
- back pain,
- sports injuries,
- fractures, and
- orthopedic surgeries.
What is the pediatric PT’s role?
The role of the pediatric physical therapist is to evaluate and provide treatment for the delays in motor skills, by developing the strength and range of motion that children need to move through their environment easily and effectively.
In addition to assessment of flexibility, strength, posture, gait, sensory processing, balance, coordination and skill, the pediatric therapist is trained to assess motor development using standardized testing for age-equivalents.