Physical Therapy for Kids

Doctors often recommend physical therapy for kids who have been injured or have movement problems from an illness, disease or disability.

After an injury, physical therapists are often able to relieve pain and help kids resume daily activities. Physical therapists teach kids exercises designed to help them regain strength and range of motion, and also show them how to prevent a recurring injury.

Physical therapy may be needed any time a child has difficulty moving in such a way that it limits daily activities.

Doctors may recommend physical therapy for kids with:

  • sports injuries
  • developmental delays
  • cerebral palsy
  • genetic disorders
  • orthopedic disabilities/injuries
  • heart and lung conditions
  • birth defects (such as spina bifida
  • acute trauma
  • head injury
  • limb deficiencies
  • muscle diseases

Physical therapists might guide kids through:

  • developmental activities such as crawling and walking
  • training to build strength around an injury
  • flexibility exercises to increase range of motion
  • balance and coordination activities
  • adaptive play
  • safety and prevention programs
  • instruction on how to avoid injuries
  • improving circulation around injuries by using heat, cold, exercise, electrical stimulation, massage, and ultrasound

During a visit, a physical therapist may:

  • measure the child’s flexibility and strength
  • analyze the way the child walks and runs (a child’s gait)
  • identify potential and existing problems
  • consult with other medical, psychiatric, and school personnel about an individual education plan (IEP)
  • provide instructions for home exercise programs
  • recommend when returning to sports is safe

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