A pediatric therapist works with children of all ages, ranging from infants to adolescents. These children will typically have physical limitations, either due to an injury or due to a congenital condition. Physical therapy with instruction and guidance from a licensed pediatric physical therapist can help the child gain more mobility and functionality. Have you have ever wondered what a pediatric physical therapist does as part of the daily routine? The following is a short list of duties that are often performed by a professional pediatric physical therapist:
1. Provide a Thorough Patient Evaluation
When a patient is referred to a physical therapist, an evaluation will be necessary before a treatment program can be created. It is an essential duty of the physical therapist (PT) to assess the young patient's condition and overall health. Most physical therapists will make use of a computer or laptop to make a documentation of the patient's vital statistics and condition. As part of the initial evaluation, the physical therapist may also provide a form for the parent to complete.
The PT will most likely ask the parent or guardian about the child's physical health, medications that are taken, any illnesses or disease, and physical limitations. Parents may be asked about the child's early developmental milestones and delays. For instance, parents may be asked if the child learned to crawl by 7-10 months (the average age when crawling begins) or if there was a significant delay in reaching that milestone.
A thorough evaluation will consist of an examination of the patient. The physical therapist must examine the child's posture and mobility of the joints. The child's muscle strength may also be evaluated during the examination. The therapist may ask the child to walk or perform a few simple movements. If the patient is an infant, the PT may observe the baby crawling or sitting up.
This entire assessment process may take about an hour or longer. Upon completion of the examination and evaluation, the physical therapist will discuss the findings with the parents. He or she will then discuss a treatment or rehabilitation program that will be devised by the therapist.
2. Devise a Functional Training and Exercise Program for the Patient
After performing an evaluation and exam, the physical therapist will most likely create some type of rehabilitation program for the young patient. The PT will demonstrate techniques to and help the youngster complete exercises during the therapy sessions. He or she may teach the older child how to move in their environment for better functionality. For a younger child or infant, the PT may help him or her learn to crawl, roll over or walk and be more mobile.
Working on mobility is a major focus of the program. The pediatric physical therapist may also help the child with coordination and balance issues. The PT may help the child learn the best techniques for running or playing.
In addition, pediatric physical therapists often incorporate the use of special equipment or toys into the rehabilitation program. This equipment is designed for developing motor skills or strengthening the core muscles. Equipment may include therapy balls for posture, foam rollers for crawling, incline ramps to assist with standing and stepping stones for assistance with balance, standing and walking.
3. Communicate and Educate the Parents
As part of the entire physical therapy program, the pediatric physical therapist must communicate with the parents. He or she will discuss issues and hurdles the child may be experiencing and ways to overcome these challenges. The PT will educate the parents on how to help the child improve at home, as well as how to keep the child motivated each and every day. The physical therapist will listen to the concerns of the parents and answer all questions.
These are just three of the fundamental duties of a pediatric physical therapist's job. To learn more about what the job entails, or if you are seeking work as a PT, contact a pediatric physical therapist recruiter in your area.