A Simple Guide for Parents
Choosing a therapist is one of the most important decisions you can make for your child.
What Can You Do?
Look for early warning signs in your child's daily activities then consult with your child's doctor. Early intervention makes a difference in a child's ability to succeed.
What is Therapy?
Therapy is a part of an intervention plan that can help a child reach his/her potential for living and learning.
Understanding Physical Therapy
Musculoskeletal and neuromuscular problems affect a child's ability to move the way they want and function as well as they want in their daily lives. Physical therapists are the experts in helping children perform those sorts of tasks and activities.
Physical therapy services focus on enhancing or restoring mobility that may have been lost due to trauma, disease, aging or congenital abnormality. Easter Seals licensed physical therapists use exercise, therapy, assistive devices and special techniques to encourage independence at work, home, school and in the community.
Physical therapy involves the use of therapeutic exercise, exercise equipment, heat, cold and other procedures suitable for a specific person and condition. Physical therapy is often an important part of medical treatment for people who've experienced illness, accident or surgery. Physical therapists work to enhance and restore mobility to individuals with neurological, developmental or orthopedic disabilities and encourage independence at home, work, school and in the community.
Physical therapy aims to:
- Improve functional mobility
- Increase range of motion and strength
- Promote tissue healing
- Prevent disability and pain
- Decrease pain and swelling
- Teach patients and families self-care
- Provide prevention and education
Physical therapy is often necessary:
- After birth, to evaluate infants suspected of having disabling conditions and to recommend corrective action
- After operations, to restore function to affected muscles and to keep unaffected muscles strong and useful
- To help people with spinal cord injuries, sports injuries, broken bones and amputations learn to use crutches, braces, wheelchairs and artificial limbs
Physical Therapy is used to:
- Reduce pain and improve motion
- Plan treatment programs, including physical education, for children who have neurological, orthopedic and other disorders
- Rebuild self-confidence and interest in returning to an independent, active life
The Physical Therapist
The physical therapist (or P.T.) is a professionally trained specialist, a graduate of a college program that includes medical, physical, biological and social science courses and clinical education. Programs are accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association. Students pursuing a career in physical therapy must pursue a post-baccalaureate degree.
Therapists who hold master's and doctoral degrees may concentrate on teaching, clinical practice or administration. Others may choose to specialize in a specific area of physical therapy, such as pediatrics or orthopedics, and bring this expertise to the clinic. Therapists must be licensed by the state in which they practice.
Individualized Treatment Plans
A physical therapist consults and works closely with an individual's physician, other health care practitioners and the individual in setting treatment objectives that are realistic and consistent with the individual's needs. This includes reviewing the individual's medical records, evaluating him or her and identifying the problem(s).
Physical therapists perform tests and evaluations that provide information about joint motion, condition of muscles and reflexes, appearance and stability of walking, need for and use of braces and artificial limbs, function of the heart and lungs, integrity of sensation and perception and performance of activities required in daily living.
Along with the patient and other health care practitioners, the physical therapist shares the hard work and commitment needed to accomplish each individual's successes.