Physical Therapy (PT) is my dream career! I knew that I wanted to be a physical therapist when I was a senior in high school but wavered a bit in college when I watched a few of my friends and fellow teammates go through physical therapy for various injuries — “Physical Torture” is what they called it. Ultimately, I was accepted into the rigorous programming and have never looked back. I have spent my entire career, except for one year, in pediatrics! I LOVE kids. I love the positive outlook they have on life and the determination they have to do anything they set their minds too. I play (with a purpose) all day! But, what is physical therapy?
Physical therapy has been around since the days of the polio epidemic in the 1920s. Throughout the years, physical therapists have developed the knowledge, resources, and techniques to treat a variety of musculoskeletal problems and mobility issues in people of all ages. Physical therapists are whole body therapists. They treat the arms and legs, the neck and back, the hips and shoulders. PTs often work with patients who have diagnoses like Cerebral Palsy, orthopedic injuries, developmental delays, birth defects, trauma, head injury, and sports injuries, as well as patients recovering from surgeries and people with chronic pain. Often, physical therapists support a patient’s ability to maximize his functional independence in his home, workplace, school or community. Physical therapists use a variety of treatments to help build strength, improve movement, support development and promote ease of daily activities. They are trained in massage, aquatic therapy, safety and prevention programming, modalities to improve circulation around injuries (heat, cold, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, etc) and techniques to improve balance, coordination, flexibility and strength. Physical therapists typically work in hospitals, private practices, fitness centers, and rehabilitation and research facilities. Some therapists (like me!) even work in schools.
Pediatric physical therapists focus on the development of a child as a whole. We look at how a child is interacting with his environment and what he might need help with to make that interaction easier and improve his independence. In therapy, we may practice learning to roll over, to stand or to walk. Some children need help moving from one surface to another — getting up from the floor, going from a standing to a sitting position. We work on navigating stairs or completing activities like jumping jacks or skipping. Pediatric physical therapists have to be good problem solvers, thinking on their feet to capture a child’s interest, and motivating a child to succeed. Part of the job description is to be creative and fun!
Click here to find Useful Tips and Tricks for Promoting Child Development from our team of pediatric occupational and physical therapists!
Want to know more about the skills we address in physical therapy? Check out our Clinical Closeup page where we break down the skills described above in terms everyone can understand.