When you think about physical therapy, you probably think about stretches and exercises that benefit older adults and people who have suffered certain types of injury. Indeed, elderly people and injured adults (of any age) make up a large proportion of patients receiving different types of physical therapy.
But what about physical therapy for children? Are there any situations in which this would be the appropriate course of action? Are there any proven benefits of physical therapy for kids? What about the risks?
Many parents don’t really consider physical therapy as an option for their little ones, simply because they have more questions than answers and have not really considered the value of physical therapy for children.
So let’s try to answer some of these questions and discover whether there are any proven benefits of physical therapy for children.
Are there any situations in which PT is beneficial to children?
The answer is a very definite ‘yes.’ Children with a whole range of physical and developmental issues can find meaningful successes and personal growth through working with a skilled physical therapist. Some of the special conditions that physical therapy can help with include: problems (diagnosed or not) with coordination or movement, uneven legs or arms, various orthopedic and genetic conditions, developmental challenges, cerebral palsy, and medical conditions involving the heart and lungs. Essentially, any challenge or condition that affects or limits movement, range of motion, or coordination can be improved with physical therapy.
Are there proven benefits?
A number of medical and academic journals have discussed the potential (and documented) benefits of PT for children, including: Better coordination, improved muscular strength, more endurance, wider range of motion, a reduction in painful symptoms, reduced swelling and lower levels of inflammation, and the correction of physical alignment problems before they progress and become worse. There are many other benefits, including higher self-confidence. Talk to your pediatrician or family doctor to confirm the potential value of PT for your particular child.
What about the risks?
As long as you’re working with a truly skilled PT who understands your child’s needs and challenges, there should be absolutely nothing to worry about. Physical therapy exercises are designed to be gentle, progressing at a rate that’s comfortable for both children and parents. If your child feels in danger during a physical therapy session, the practitioner is either not reputable or perhaps the child isn’t ready for physical therapy — this is also a possibility.
Finding a physical therapists you can trust
No parent is going to subject their child to any form of is ago therapy or medical treatment without a thorough understanding of the benefits and risks involved — and a very high level of trust in the therapist or medical professional who is administering treatment. There are many reputable physical therapist out there who have high levels of experience in working with children. As a concerned parent, due diligence is important, in the first important step is finding a therapist who is truly reputable and qualified.