Physical therapy works with children, youth, and their families, caregivers, and teachers to promote movement for active participation in the home, school, and community environments.
“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.”
Physical therapy evaluates, assesses, and provides 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. Body functions to address include:
- Muscle Flexibility
- Joint Range of Motion (joint movement)
- Strength (core strength and lower body strength)
- Posture (alignment of the body)
- Gait (walking, crawling)
- Balance (on stable and non-stable surfaces)
- Coordination and skill (use of one side of the body vs. use of both sides of the body)
- Developmental milestones (crawling, kneeling, walking)
- Gross motor skills (climbing, jumping, skipping)
Additionally, physical therapy services include recommendations and training in orthotics, prosthetics, adaptive equipment, and assistive technology.
“Strengthening muscles, enhancing coordination and improving overall mobility with age appropriate and play-based techniques, physical therapy strives to make movement natural and fun.”
For infants, toddlers, and children, interventions are focused on:
- Promoting correct positioning and movements patterns
- Developing age-appropriate (reaching developmental milestones in regards to motor movements)
- Introducing core stability (ability to hold oneself up-right, supported vs. unsupported)
- Promoting learning and execution of gross motor skills
- Engaging in developmental play therapy
For older children and teens, interventions are focused on:
- Providing instructions for an at home exercise program
- Analyzing how the individual walks or runs (gait)
- Returning to full function after any developmental, musculoskeletal, neuromuscular set backs
- Building endurance and muscle strength for improved independence in movement
- Promoting body and safety awareness
- Gradual transitions from therapeutic activity to full (or modified) participation with same-aged peers
So, what is the difference between PT and PTA?
- Registered Physical Therapists (PT) have the ability to evaluate, interpret the assessment, create a treatment plan, implement the treatment, educate, and advocate for children and their families.
- Physical Therapy Assistants (PTA) have the ability to implement and update the treatment plan of care, provide feedback to the PT on the child’s progress, and educate children and their families on the benefits of the therapeutic treatments and exercise.