Developmental Pathways

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Physical Therapy


Physical therapy (PT), is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialty that, by using mechanical force and movements, remediates impairments and promotes mobility, function, and quality of life through examination, diagnosis, prognosis, and physical intervention.

Sometimes children may have physical limitations such as low muscle tone, poor balance, be un-coordinated, or have a combination of all the above. A physical therapist can address these areas. An assessment will identify areas of need and the physical therapist will design and implement an intervention to improve the individual child’s areas of need and increase overall function and participation.

Child Jumping

Physical Therapy Areas of Intervention

  • Gross Motor Skills – using large muscles for sitting, standing, walking, running, etc.
  • Balance/Coordination Skills – involves the brain, bones, and muscles in a coordinated effort for smooth movement.
  • Strengthening – building muscle for support and endurance.
  • Functional Mobility/Motor Planning – moving through space, day to day, for independence and efficiency.

Pediatric Treatment Sessions

In a clinic setting, the treatment is determined by the referring physician, parent/caretaker, and therapist. The amount of therapy provided by the child’s health insurance may also influence the frequency of services.

Children are motivated through play, therefore, physical therapists use child-friendly, specially chosen toys and activities to motivate and encourage their patient to participate in therapy. Typically, you will find balls, crash pads, swings, and slides in a pediatric therapy gym. Children have fun while they work hard to accomplish the tasks their therapists set for them.

For ages 0-3 years, Early Intervention, the focus is to coach and educate families and caregivers on how to use physical therapy activities to encourage increased participation in the child’s routines at home and in the community.