Pediatric physical therapists are the way to go for kids

PediatricPTBy Betsy Stein

If your baby isn't meeting milestones or your preteen has recently broken a bone and a physical therapist is in your future, be sure to choose a PT trained to deal with children.

"Just like a pediatrician is trained to treat young patients, a pediatric therapist is trained to do the same," explained Chris Lee, director of public relations for Cypress Creek Therapy in Severna Park. "It's their specialty."

Pediatric PTs know milestones

First and foremost pediatric physical therapists know more about developmental milestones and can determine if a child is meeting the appropriate level of development, Lee said.

"Pediatric therapists specialize in the bodies of children, developmental delays and how to fix them," he said.

Ann Wallop, a pediatric physical therapist from Annapolis Family Physical Therapy agrees. Most pediatric PTs have specialized training and have tailored their education to meet the needs of their younger patients, she said.

"There is definitely a difference when you are dealing with a body that is growing and changing as opposed to an adult who is grown and mature," she said.

Children have growth plates and parts that are still moving and growing, Lee added. There are also certain pediatric conditions such as Torticollis — a crink in the neck that occurs in the womb — that a therapist not trained in pediatrics would not know about, he said.

Pediatric PTs are also used to the behavioral aspects involved in dealing with kids.

"They are better able to allow children to get the most out of the therapy and present it in a more fun manner," Wallop said. "They can provide the discipline children require to participate in the therapy."

Lee added that such a therapist is better able get down on a child's level.

"We have a more playful atmosphere for the kids," Lee said. "The [therapists] turn exercises into games. ... We have a Nintendo Wii in the kids' gym."

Pediatric therapists also work closely with the parents to come up with a plan of care that is conducive to home compliance, Lee said.

"No one wants to go to physical therapy, but If we can increase the chances of the kids having a somewhat positive experience, we will get the most of out of therapy," Wallop said.