As a physical therapist, you know and understand that there are many specialties in your field. Popular ones include Geriatric Clinical Specialist, Orthopedic Specialist, and Neurological Clinical Specialist. Did you know, though, that you can choose to become a Pediatric Clinical Specialist and work with kids?
Research has shown that children benefit in numerous ways from participating in physical therapy. In this guide, we will outline the many benefits of physical therapy for kids.
What is a Pediatric Clinical Specialist?
A Pediatric Clinical Specialist (PCS) is a physical therapist that places their focus on treating a wide array of physical conditions in young people from as young as newborns or as old as teenagers.
To become this type of specialist, you must have a total of 2000 hours of patient care in the field of pediatrics within the past decade or successfully complete an APTA accredited pediatric-based residency within the past decade.
While these specialists work with all types of children, they most commonly work with those that have cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, and autism.
What is the Purpose of Physical Therapy for Kids?
Physical therapists that work with kids help those youngsters in optimizing their overall range of motion, their general strength, their flexibility, and the patterns of movement.
These professionals specialize in helping children learn to move their body how and when they want to the absolute best of their ability.
In short, physical therapy helps to ensure that everyday activities may be performed as easily as possible by the kids that they see.
Why is Physical Therapy Important for Kids?
Pediatric-based physical therapy is beneficial in helping a child improve their physical abilities and their motor skills. In turn, this helps the child experience a higher quality of life.
Physical therapists that work with kids can help them quickly and effectively recover from overuse injuries. They may also work with a child and help them learn alternative movements so that they may prevent further injuries from occurring.
How is Pediatric Physical Therapy Different Than Regular Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy for kids is designed with kids in mind. Traditional adult physical therapy does not change up exercises and treatments to make them more age appropriate or appealing. They are basic.
Pediatric physical therapy integrates age-appropriate activities to make them appealing and exciting for children.
It focuses on the mind of the child as well as the body and the spirit. It places an emphasis on developmental issues, such as gross and fine motor skills. It also places a focus on balance, the cognitive functioning of the child, and ensures sensory integration.
What are the Benefits of PT for Kids?
Generally speaking, physical therapy for kids is incredibly beneficial in that it helps improve strength, optimizes the child’s flexibility, and their range of motion. It is also very beneficial for boosting the child’s level of independence. Physical therapy for kids utilizes play-based treatment techniques in order to ensure that a child enjoys themselves and have fun while growing and developing. The following outlines the main benefits of PT for kids:
- Age-Specific Treatments – The first benefit of pediatric physical therapy is the fact that it utilizes age-specific treatments so that the child may develop gross motor skills, fine motor skills, strength, and other capabilities in an environment that is fun, happy, safe, and very comfortable. It integrates play activities to encourage specific types of movements to activate the various muscles within the body. The fun and excitement cannot be beat when coupled with the physical benefits that stem from physical therapy.
- Proper Healing – Children are prone to injuries. These include overuse injuries, muscle injuries, and bone injuries. Physical therapy will help a child successfully recover and properly heal so that any potential complications are avoided. Physical therapy goes beyond basic pain management. It helps to reduce and prevent pain and inflammation. It aids in building the strength of the muscles and restoring their range of motion.
- Developmental Delays – If a child does not reach certain milestones by a certain time, it is said that the child is suffering from developmental delays. Physical therapy can assist children that suffer from these delays. Examples include reaching, grabbing, walking independently, and running.
- Prevent Need for Surgery – If it is at all possible, it is ideal to avoid putting a child through surgery. The good news is, if a child is placed into physical therapy, the treatment exercises may aid in preventing the need for surgery.
- Active Lifestyle – It is important for children to have an active lifestyle that consists of exercising and play. By placing a child in physical therapy, they will be taught exercises and activities that will prove to be highly beneficial and will help them live an active lifestyle that will keep them fit, healthy, and happy.
- Improved Strength – Physical therapy will help a child in participating in exercises that are beneficial to the development of their strength. The activities will be fun, yes, but they will aid in the growth and development of the child, too.
- Improved Coordination and Balance – All children need proper coordination and the ability to balance themselves with ease. This is especially true if a child has some sort of issue, such as multiple sclerosis or another disability. Physical therapy will engage the kid in activities that specialize in improved coordination and balance.
- Mobility – All individuals need to be as mobile as possible. This includes children. If a child lacks in mobility, it will result in their being less independent. By working with a physical therapist, a child may gain higher levels of independence by learning to be more mobile.
- Increased Happiness – While it may be hard to believe, physical therapy offers the benefit of making a child happy. Kids love to play and move around. A physical therapist will provide activities that seem like play and allow the child to move freely. In turn, this will make the child extremely happy. A happy child is a healthy child!
- Socialization – In addition to the cognitive and physical benefits, physical therapy offers the added benefit of ensuring that the child is properly socialized. Even if a child is homeschooled or homebound, the added interactions that they have with their physical therapist will contribute to their socialization.
When Does a Child Need Physical Therapy?
There are many situations in which physical therapy may be considered ideal for a child. The main one is identifying if the child displays any type of movement patterns that are considered to be unusual. Other situations include a lack of coordination and/or balance, poor motor skills, toe-walking, jerking movements, and other situations that are similar in nature.
Join the Field Today
As a physical therapist, you have many options – in terms of what specialty that you want to pursue. If you are in search of a fun, exciting specialty that will prove to be highly rewarding, you should consider joining the field of pediatric physical therapy. You will get to work with children of all ages and will help in improving their overall quality of life. In addition to this, we encourage you to join us here at Colorado Physical Therapy Network. Here, you will be given access to many tools and resources that will contribute in a positive manner to your career. For more information or to learn more about membership to our platform, you may contact us now at: 303-757-7004