What is Physical Therapy?

If your child has a condition that limits his or her ability to move or your child’s coordination, they may benefit from physical therapy. Physical therapy (PT), or sometimes called physiotherapy, focuses on improving gross and fine motor skills, balance and coordination, and strength and endurance. Gross motor skills include activities that use the larger muscles of the body, like rolling, crawling, walking, running or jumping. Fine motor skills use the smaller muscles, such as the ability to hold a spoon or pick up a toy. Physical therapy services are an important part of early intervention and school programs at different stages in a child’s life. Some children may also require short periods of physical therapy services at a clinic or hospital to improve movement and mobility skills for participation in their communities.

Your child may be evaluated by a physical therapist to assess muscle and joint function, mobility, strength, muscle tone, endurance, oral motor skills such as feeding and talking, posture and balance, even the status of the heart and lungs. Pediatric physical therapy strives to promote independence, increases participation in the home, school and community, facilitates motor development and function, and improves strength. Physical therapists support children from infancy through adolescence and collaborate with their families and other medical, educational, developmental and rehabilitation specialists. They also monitor the function, fit, and proper use of mobility aids, positioning devices, and braces. Pediatric physical therapy is family-centered. Therapists respect family priorities and support families in their role in nurturing and caring for their children.

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