What is physical therapy?
Physical therapy is the key to regaining strength, reducing pain, and improving mobility in children as well as adults. Pediatric physical therapy refers to sets of physical exercises and movements aimed at specific needs and muscles, for children and toddlers. A physical therapist can lead a range of exercises, starting with stretches and going on to strengthening exercises using equipment specially designed for your child’s needs. It can assist the unhindered growth of children as well as provide a speedy and monitored recovery from any injury.
Why turn to physical therapy?
Physical therapy is often a remedy to movement limitations faced by children who may have a limited range of motion due to injury, disease, or disability. Some examples of situations that call for physical therapy include orthopedic injuries due to sports or otherwise, genetic disorders, head injuries, muscle diseases, heart or lung conditions, issues from birth (such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida), or developmental delays.
Identifying the need for physical therapy
Some things to look out for if you think your child may need physical therapy are:
1. If your child has not yet met developmental milestones such as rolling, sitting, standing
2. If they prefer to constantly turn their heads onto one side or just use one side of their body
3. If they walk on the balls of their feet, or otherwise in any awkward manner
4. If they frequently get tired, experience pain, or trip and fall when walking
5. If they cannot keep up with the motor movements (skipping, jumping, etc.) of their peers
6. If they are suddenly not able to perform previously easy movements
Attaining professional services
There are many places where one can access the services of a pediatric physical therapist. Physical therapists typically work in hospitals, private practices, fitness centers, and rehabilitation and research facilities. If at a loss to know who to go to, always ask your regular pediatrician for recommendations, as they are already familiar with your child’s specific needs. Physical therapy can cost anywhere from $20 to $300 per session and is often covered by insurance.
Role of Parents
Currently, many professionals are taking one-on-one sessions with all required precautions as well as sessions and consultations via the Internet on video calls, with the child under parent supervision and guidance. These exercises can, of course, be practiced at home as well, but at least the initial period of recovery would need the help of a professional to prevent worsening any prevailing situation. Thus, it is highly recommended that a consultation be done before continuing the exercises at home with your child.
Aside from this, children may be averse to performing the exercises for the prolonged periods necessary. The role of the parent then becomes crucial to encourage the child and ensure they adhere to the routine.
Benefits of physical therapy
Aside from targeted treatment, there are also some general benefits of physical therapy. It can build overall strength and endurance in the body as well as improving the general quality of mobility. Physical therapy has a positive effect on the child’s sense of balance and equilibrium, posture, and reflexes. These also occur and are necessary alongside any rehabilitation physical therapy after an injury.