Know About Pediatric
What is a Pediatric Physical Therapist?
“Isn’t physical therapy just for athletes and adults in recovery?” Nope! Sometimes, children and even babies need physical therapy, too. You might not give a second thought to walking up the stairs or picking up a drink. But for a child with an injury or delay in development, those simple tasks can be a real challenge.
What is a Pediatric Physical Therapist?
If your child needs physical therapy, they’ll work with a pediatric physical therapist (PT). Typically, pediatric PTs treat kids under 18, from newborns to teenagers. They see children for a variety of different reasons, including bone/muscle issues, sports-related injuries, or genetic, brain,spine,or nerve disorders. PTs have years of training, and some even earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.
Pediatric Physical Therapist Job Description
Pediatric physical therapists are physical therapists that specialize in treating and caring for patients who are toddlers, babies, children, teenagers and young adults. They treat conditions related to genetic, neurological and orthopedic disorders. Techniques like functional training and exercise are used alongside medication and diet changes. Additionally, pediatric physical therapists use specialized medical equipment that is designed to help treat and alleviate pain from conditions that hinder mobility.
Pediatric physical therapists work a typical 40-hour week with some evenings and weekends required. Remaining emotionally strong and handling stress well is crucial for this career due to the frustrations patients can experience with their conditions. Possessing excellent communication skills helps when speaking to family members and patients about the treatment options and health conditions. Typical employers for this career include private practice, hospitals and other medical settings.
Requirements for Pediatric Physical Therapist
A pediatric physical therapist needs a Doctor of Physical Therapy, which typically takes three years to earn. Educational programs need to be accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association. Specializations and minors are available that are specifically geared for pediatric physical therapy. Students need to pursue these programs in order to acquire the proper education to work with children. Common courses in pediatric physical therapy programs include anatomy, exercise physiology, biology, pharmacology, radiology, behavioral science and pathology. While enrolled in these educational programs, a pediatric physical therapist typically has to complete some supervised work through an internship or assistantship.
Things You Should Know About Pediatric Physical Therapy
With pediatric physical therapy, kids who are injured or who have certain health conditions can reach their full potential and function better at home, in school, and in other environments. If you’re considering whether your child could benefit from working with a pediatric physical therapist, here are some basic facts you should know about this type of health care.
- Treating injured children is different from helping adults and requires a unique approach. Pediatric physical therapy must involve a team of experts trained specifically to deal with kids’ bone and muscle structure. Additionally, therapists must demonstrate a high level of patience and compassion, since children might not understand the need for physical therapy and can have more trouble staying on task than adults would.
- Parents and family members become part of the process. Pediatric physical therapists work not only with the child who needs treatment but also with family members. A child’s caretakers play a vital role in successfully enacting a treatment program. Therapists can support families in advancing their children’s development and physical therapy progress by offering services such as providing specific information on the patient’s needs, offering guidance on using physical therapy equipment directly, and more, according to the APTA.
- Insurance coverage for pediatric physical therapy varies. If your child needs physical therapy, it’s important to review your health insurance policy or program to see what types of treatment it covers and what the reimbursement levels are for those services, the APTA states. Additionally, it helps to become familiar with laws that require and affect the provision of pediatric physical therapy, such as the Individuals With Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
- Pediatric physical therapy can benefit children dealing with a wide range of conditions. Physical therapy can help kids in various circumstances. Pediatric physical therapists at Little Steps specialize (but aren’t limited to) the following:
- Developmental delay
- Birth defects
- Muscle diseases
- Genetic disorders
- Cerebral palsy
- Acute trauma
- Head injury
- Sports injury
- Orthopedic disabilities/injury
What conditions can be treated with pediatric PT?
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, Autism, Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy and associated disorders, Spina Bifida, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, Arthrogyposis, Cardio-PulmonaryDisorders, Cystic Fibrosis, Cancer, and Traumatic Brain Injury. In addition, many children present with hypotonia and developmental coordination disorder without a formal diagnosis. Orthopedic conditions that can also be treated with PT include scoliosis, 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 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. The long-term goal includes gross motor skill development solid to age with good quality to both sides of the body.
A child’s bones, muscles and joints require special care
A child’s growth plates – the areas at the end of the long bones in the arms and legs responsible for making new bone tissue – are still open. If a child or teenager injures these growth plates, and is not diagnosed or treated properly, it can lead to damage that may leave them permanently sidelined from their favorite activities. Pediatric physical therapists are trained to recognize, identify and treat these types of injuries specifically. And while general PTs can treat pediatric patients, they may make up only 5-10% of their practice. Pediatric PT’s on the other hand, are kid experts, treating children 100 percent of the time.
Pediatric physical therapists cater rehabilitation specifically to your kids
A child needs to be stimulated and engaged in their physical therapy to reap the biggest benefits and recover quickly. If they aren’t challenged and entertained, they become disengaged – potentially prolonging their recovery time. Pediatric PTs can translate your child’s therapeutic goals into exercises that seem more like play than therapy, making rehabilitation fun – which translates into better compliance and a faster recovery.