What is Pediatric Physical Therapy?

What is Pediatric Physical Therapy?

Most people know what physical therapists do, but it usually goes something like this…"Oh, yeah, they help with back pain,” “They help with sports injuries,” or “They make you walk or do those exercises.” While all of that is well and true, there are some other great things that physical therapists do! One of those great things, and my absolute favorite, is working with babies and children! Yes, you read that right!!

Pediatric Physical Therapists (PT) work with babies and children of all ages and abilities to help improve gross motor development, mobility, and body function (strength and endurance). This includes Early Intervention, which could be a whole topic itself (stay tuned)! Early intervention is a service through the state, normally free but check with your state, to help birth to three years old with developmental delays and parent/guardian education and available resources.

Pediatric PTs help babies and children with developmental delays due to prematurity, conditions from pregnancy or birth complications, medical conditions, plagiocephaly, torticollis, mobility, and ambulation. Medical conditions include, but are not limited to, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injuries (accidental or non-accidental), Angelman Syndrome, Cancer, Autism, Muscular Dystrophy, Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, and Developmental Coordination Disorder. Pediatric PTs can also promote health and wellness, as a healthcare provider, and help with weight management, strengthening programs, and cardiopulmonary training.

There are several settings that Pediatric PTs can work in or collaborate with other healthcare professionals, families, or staff to achieve the children’s functional goals or outcomes. These settings include, but are not limited to, hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools, daycares, and homes.

Pediatric PTs will examine, evaluate, and collaborate with doctors/pediatricians, families, and other healthcare professionals or teachers to develop an individual plan of care and goals to help achieve a child's maximum potential.

As a Pediatric PT, it fills my heart with joy to see families and children happy when they reach those “milestones” or “inchstones" because every little step or movement counts towards reaching a child's goals. Many families are grateful for the help of PTs during their child’s therapy journey, which is true, based on the PT’s experience, knowledge, and assistance. However, many times it is the children's and families’ perseverance that helps them reach their maximum potential!

- Whitney Castle, PT, DPT


The ABCs of Pediatric Physical Therapy. Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy: Fact Sheet. ©2019 by the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy, American Physical Therapy Association, 1111 N Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-1488, www.pediatricapta.org. Developed by APPT, with special thanks to expert contributors: Mary Jane Rapport, PT, DPT, PhD, FAPTA; Lisa Chiarello, PT, PhD, FAPTA; and Lynn Jeffries, PT, DPT, PhD, PCS.

Physical Therapy Health Center for Children. ChoosePT. https://www.choosept.com/children