We generally think of adults when considering physical therapy as a discipline. However, children can benefit just as much from PT. After all, kids also sustain injuries and develop conditions needing physical therapy. This short guide explains what you should know about physical therapy for kids. You’ll also learn how to choose the best PT specialist for your child.
The human body is incredibly sophisticated. As children’s bodies develop, new bone tissue grows and allows skeletal systems to become larger and stronger. Muscles also develop, along with gross and fine motor skills. These processes happen continually, with the body achieving peak bone mass between ages 18 and 21.
Healthy eating and weight-bearing physical activity help build your child’s bones. But as parents, you know that mishaps can occur. Around 50% of boys and nearly 40% of girls have at least one broken bone or fracture by age 15. These can take three to 12 weeks to heal. However, the bones may require several months to regain their strength.
Besides broken or fractured bones, children can sustain sports-related injuries. Other conditions may affect a child’s musculoskeletal system:
- Cerebral palsy
- Autism-related mobility issues
- Developmental delays
- Cardiovascular issues
- Congenital conditions
Physical therapy in Greeley, Colorado, can be a helpful component of an overall treatment plan. Physical therapists use a wide range of techniques when working with kids. Play-based approaches are popular for several reasons. They engage children’s interests and encourage participation. When children enjoy their PT sessions, they may feel more motivated and invested in their therapy. Play-based techniques are also age-appropriate, geared toward specific developmental needs and goals.
Your child’s treatment plan may include physical therapy, occupational therapy or both. While PT targets the musculoskeletal system, OT focuses on activities of daily living. Occupational therapy is concerned with building skills. This is especially important for children with behavioral, cognitive, physical, motor, visual, sensory or emotional challenges. Occupational therapists also use play-based techniques because of their proven benefits.
Choosing the Right Physical Therapist
While you should understand the advantages of pediatric physical therapy, you must also choose a PT specialist who best meets your child’s needs. Referrals for pediatric physical therapists often come from the child’s primary care physician. You can also research providers of physical therapy in Fort Collins, CO so you know your available options.
Whether by referral or your own search process, finding a physical therapist for your child involves doing your homework. It’s helpful to speak with each provider and get your questions answered:
- How does the therapist work with children?
- Has the PT specialist worked with kids with similar challenges?
- How does the PT create a child’s therapy plan?
- How will progress be evaluated?
Meeting Your Child’s Unique Needs
Like PT for adults, pediatric physical therapy includes one-on-one approaches to help achieve positive outcomes. Play-based therapies are proven the most effective when working with children. Unique challenges call for individualized treatment approaches. When choosing a pediatric PT specialist, select a provider whose techniques and expertise best meet your child’s needs.