If you enjoy working with children, teenagers, and young adults, you will certainly enjoy a career in pediatric physical therapy. In this position, you will engage in the process of treating and examining kids from birth to the age of 18.
These children are challenged with issues pertaining to movement and a variety of other physical activities. You may assist pediatric patients with pre-existing medical conditions, those that have underlying illnesses and/or diseases, as well as those that have sustained injuries.
Learn about this highly rewarding and in-demand physical therapy career.
Basic Job Description
As a pediatric physical therapist, your patients will consist of infants, babies, toddlers, school-aged kids, adolescents, and young adults. The conditions that impact these age groups may be genetic-based, orthopedic, and/or neurological.
A multitude of techniques are at your disposal.
You may opt to utilize exercises, play, and/or functional types of training with medication therapy, a special diet, and/or massage therapy to help the children that you work with on a daily basis.
You may also utilize specially-designed equipment to treat conditions, optimize mobility, and alleviate discomfort in your patients.
This position requires excellent communication skills, empathy, sensitivity, a love for children, and typically involves working a variety of shifts for a total of 40 hours a week.
Pediatric Physical Therapy Requirements
If you elect to go into pediatric physical therapy, you will be required to obtain a Doctor of Physical Therapy. This degree typically takes right around three years to complete.
All of the education that you receive must be accredited with the American Physical Therapy Association.
There are several program specializations that you may take part in that will help you in working with kids in physical therapy. Examples include behavioral science, anatomy, pathology, and exercise physiology. Some courses may require an assistantship or internship.
While educational requirements vary by state, nearly all physical therapists that work with pediatric patients will be required to fulfill certain requirements every few years to continue working within the field.
Outlook and Salary
The outlook for pediatric physical therapy is very positive. It is a field that has a projected growth that is very high. The highest levels of growth are expected to occur between now and the year 2028.
In terms of salary, the bottom average of therapists that work with pediatric patients earn approximately $61,000.
Those that are in the 90th percentile or higher earn about $124,000 annually.
If you are looking for a career that offers the opportunity for growth, job security, and a high-income range, this is the job for you.
The First Pediatric Physical Therapists
Pediatric physical therapists first emerged during the 1920s. It was at this time that the polio epidemic was occurring. Coincidentally, this is when the medicine field took off, too.
While not referred to as “physical therapists” during that time, the healthcare industry recognized these individuals and their efforts in exercising the body and manipulating the physiological health of their patients.
Since that time, the field has taken off and offers all ages a multitude of therapies and services that help them to live more positive, productive lives with less pain and higher levels of mobility.
There are several different health conditions in which pediatric physical therapists specialize. They start with an interview with the family and an examination. This helps in determining the source and extent of the movement problems that the child suffers.
Then, an individual treatment plan is created. This will include methods and techniques that are designed to improve the motor development of the child, improve balance, and increasing strength in the body.
Additionally, a focus on range of motion, coordination, levels of endurance, and gait is put into the plan.
The following outlines some of the most common health conditions addressed by physical therapists that work with pediatric patients:
- Injuries to the Brain
- Cerebral Palsy
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Chronic Pain
- Juvenile Multiple Sclerosis
- Developmental Issues
As a pediatric physical therapist, you will use a large assortment of techniques to treat your patients.
Children receive a combination of treatments that are used with adult patients, but also get presented with techniques that are tailored to their age.
For example, standard techniques used with all age groups include manual manipulation, breathing training, assistive technology, and wound care.
Those designed for children include motor learning, play therapy, adaptation for little bodies, and programs designed for those with special needs.
If you are ready to join a network of pediatric physical therapists and embark on a rewarding journey in your career, contact us today,