Pediatric physical therapists (PTs) work to assist children in reaching their maximum potential and to function independently. Physical therapists use their expertise in movement and apply clinical reasoning through the process of examination, evaluation, diagnosis, and intervention.
Children may be referred to a PT if they are having issues with gross motor skills, strength, balance, coordination, or reflexes.
A child with gross motor delay may:
- Not be meeting expected gross motor milestones in a timely manner
- Have difficulty keeping up with siblings/peers
- Have difficulty with motor planning (ie: catching/throwing a ball or jumping)
A child with strength, balance, and/or coordination deficits may have:
- Difficulty exploring their environments (ie: playground or ambulating up/down stairs at home)
- Frequent trip and falls compared to siblings/peers.
- Poor gait mechanics (ie: shuffling feet when walking or walking on tiptoes)
A child with persisting primitive reflexes may have:
- Difficulty walking a straight path or walking/leaning into walls or parent
- Decreased muscle tone
- Poor posture/slumping in desk chair
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.