A pediatric physical therapist is a licensed healthcare professional that specializes in treating infants, toddlers, and children up through age 21 years old. Pediatric therapists are well trained in implementation of interventions specific to the 21-and-under age groups that optimize motor development to help children achieve and progress through motor milestones. Pediatric physical therapists will be better equipped at tailoring interventions that align with your child’s social-emotional, cognitive, and communication capabilities to improve their physical mobility than non-specialized pediatric physical therapists. With these targeted interventions utilizing handling techniques and play based activities, children will improve overall motor function and therefore increase their ability to interact and engage with their environment.
During typical development, children are expected to progress through a series of motor patterns and behaviors to allow them to explore the world around them. The given timeframe in which a child reaches a milestone varies, however if a child has not achieved a specific ability by a certain age, then it may be more challenging for the child to progress into higher level mobility activities. Gross motor movements that are also considered motor milestones include rolling, pushing to sit, pulling to stand, cruising (sideways walking with arm support on a surface), walking, ascending<>descending stairs, running, jumping, and kicking a ball and so on. For a list of motor milestones from the CDC, click the button below!
Pediatric physical therapists treat a myriad of conditions including plagiocephaly, torticollis, balance and coordination disorders, developmental delay (late crawlers/walkers), toe-in walkers and toe walkers, Autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, among others. During your child’s initial evaluation appointment, the therapist will perform a comprehensive assessment utilizing standardized tests, observation, and parental/caregiver report to determine what deficits or impairments may exist and need to be addressed. The therapist will develop a comprehensive plan with parental/caregiver involvement specific to your child’s needs to help your child progress and achieve gross motor milestones to allow for improved engagement/interaction with their peers and the world.
In the state of Alaska, a child can be seen by a physical therapist without a prescription or referral from a doctor/physician's assistant/nurse practitioner through “direct access”. However, we request at our location that your child receives a written prescription for PT evaluation and treatment prior to starting at our clinic to allow for open communication between your family and your health care provider team.