What is Physical Therapy?

Pediatric physical therapists (PTs) work with children and their families to assist each child in reaching their maximum potential to function independently and to promote active participation in home, school, and community environments. Physical therapists use their expertise in movement and apply clinical reasoning through the process of examination, evaluation, diagnosis, and intervention. As primary health care providers, PTs also promote health and wellness as they implement a wide variety of supports for children from infancy through adolescence in collaboration with their families and other medical, educational, developmental, and rehabilitation specialists.

Pediatric physical therapy promotes independence, increases participation, facilitates motor development and function, improves strength and endurance, enhances learning opportunities, and eases challenges with daily caregiving.

Does My Child Need PT?

  • Developmental activities
  • Movement and mobility
  • Strengthening
  • Motor learning
  • Balance and coordination
  • Recreation, play, and leisure
  • Adaptation of daily care activities and routines
  • Equipment design, fabrication, and fitting

Evidenced Based Practice

  • Tone management
  • Use of assistive technology
  • Posture, positioning, and lifting
  • Orthotics and prosthetics
  • Burn and wound care
  • Cardiopulmonary endurance
  • Safety, health promotion, and prevention programs

The Section on Pediatrics supports the use of evidence-based practice, which is the integration of research findings and clinical expertise by pediatric PTs in order to collaborate with families, health care providers, and educators to provide best practice to every child. Pediatric physical therapists may use evidence-based practice to provide any of the above services as part of their plan of care.

© Copyright 2009. Developed by the Practice Committee of the Section on Pediatrics, APTA, with special thanks to expert contributors Mary Jane Rapport, PT, PhD, Lisa Chiarello, PT, PhD, PCS, and Lynn Jeffries, PT, PhD, PCS.

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