What is pediatric physical therapy?
When someone asks what I do, I respond that I am a physical therapist specializing in pediatrics. More times than I can remember, I get the response, “Oh so, do you teach babies how to do push-ups and lift weights? Clever, but not exactly.
Throughout my last 10 years as a practicing PT, the field of physical therapy is becoming more recognized in communities across the United States. With over 90% of the population experiencing an episode of back pain in their life, the expertise of physical therapist is becoming more commonplace. With that said, there is still a huge gap in community education in the specialties associated with a general physical therapy degree.
Physical therapists are highly trained and licensed healthcare professionals that are experts in the science of movement. We utilize our expertise in the body and how it moves to promote wellness over the lifespan. This science includes identifying and treating movement problems in our most vulnerable population, our children. Physical therapists use an understanding of typical growth and development to help infants and children grow in optimal ways.
Ok, but what does that mean exactly? Physical therapists who specialize in pediatrics are experts in identifying patterns of normal childhood movement. We can use special screening tools to help with this including the Alberta Infant Motor Scale, Bailey, and the PDMS-2. In addition, physical therapists recognize delays in baby development including abnormal movement patterns. Problems including muscle weakness and cognitive delays may contribute to delays in movement and development. These delays can impact the child over the lifespan by altering muscle/bone growth, impacting both body and brain development.
The great thing about working with children is their love of play. During a physical therapy session, pediatric physical therapists often use a variety of toys to motivate the child to hold more challenging positions for longer periods of time or to initiate movement in a specific way. For example, we might use a big yoga ball to help a child hold positions on his stomach which modifies the position and allows the child to improve on the arm/shoulder/neck strength as well as tummy time.
For more information on pediatric physical therapy or the development of your child contact me at Boost Babies, LLC.