What does a Pediatric Physical Therapist do?

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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 02 July 2019
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Pediatric physical therapists are medical professionals who work with children who need to rehabilitate bones, muscles or other body components. They often assist children after an accident or a surgery. A pediatric physical therapist may also help a child who suffers from a neuromuscular disorder, a skeletal disorder, congenital diseases, or illnesses such as cerebral palsy and spina bifidia.

There are stringent education requirements in many areas for pediatric physical therapists. In most countries, to become a pediatric physical therapist, an individual needs to obtain a bachelor's or university degree as well as advanced education. The advanced education generally involves courses on anatomy, biology and other related subjects so the physical therapist can develop an in-depth understanding of how the body works.

When becoming licensed, an individual can specialize in pediatric physical therapy. He or she may also develop this specialty upon graduating with a more general degree. He can obtained the required knowledge of children's physical therapy through work experience with children.

A licensed pediatric physical therapist develops a program for a child depending upon the needs of the child and the areas in which the child needs rehabilitation and increased development. This can involve rehabilitation of the bones or muscles after an illness or injury, such as a bone fracture, or it can involve helping a child develop bone and muscle strength if the child is not developing properly. It can also involve other types of programs, depending on the child's needs.


Doctors and other medical professionals often send children to physical therapists as an alternative to surgery or in conjunction with surgery or other treatment. The doctors may participate in helping the physical therapist develop the appropriate program for the child. The doctors may also oversee the child's progress to determine whether the physical therapy is effective and accomplishing the desired goals.

The exercises and types of therapy performed depend upon the type of illness or disability that the therapy is designed to treat. Occupational physical therapy can focus on learning how to develop fine motor skills and engage in basic life tasks, such as buttoning buttons, tying shoes, or cutting with scissors. Balance, coordination and endurance can all be developed through working with a pediatric physical therapist. Physical therapists can even help children learn to walk or relearn to walk after a bone fracture or other illness that causes the muscles or bones in the legs to make walking difficult.


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