Outpatient Pediatric Physical Therapy

When many people think of outpatient physical therapy (PT), they immediately think of rehab from surgery, sport injuries, neurological deficits, etc. When telling people you are a Pediatric Physical Therapist, it is usually followed by questions like, “Well what do you do with kids?” or “Do you just help them after they get hurt?” While pediatric therapists can help kids following an injury, we can also do so much more than that!

Outpatient pediatric physical therapy covers a wide range of diagnoses and conditions including delay in gross motor skills, neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Apraxia, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Spina Bifida, torticollis, and too many other conditions to name. We can also assist kids in gaining strength, balance, and coordination skills that may or may not stem from a medical diagnosis. Helping the kids with these skills will allow them to have better safety awareness, strength, and ability to play with same-aged peers.

So what does a pediatric PT session look like? Babies lifting small weights and doing exercises? Not exactly. One of the most beneficial (and fun!) aspects of pediatric PT is the idea of purposeful playing. Purposeful playing allows the therapist and the child to improve functional strength, balance, and overall gross motor development to make their lives easier all while playing with toys and having fun. Having the kids engaged in play during therapy sessions help keep them happy and interested in the session and keep them from realizing how hard they are working.

Most outpatient PT clinics are well-equipped with toys, puzzles, and games to keep kids of all ages entertained and engaged to make the most optimal gains during the PT session. The therapist also utilizes appointment times to educate the parents/guardians how to optimize their home environments to help the kiddos continue making gains outside the PT session.

Pediatric PT can be a very beneficial and impactful part of your child’s life. If you believe your child would benefit from PT, contact the child’s pediatrician for a referral today! Unsure if they would qualify or benefit? Check out Sidekick’s recent blog post regarding red flags in physical therapy for your child’s age.

-Amy Smith, PT, DPT


What is a Pediatric Physical Therapist? | Pathways.org. Pathways.org. https://pathways.org/what-is-a-pediatric-physical-therapist/. Published 2021. Accessed August 17, 2021.