Pediatric Physical Therapy

What is Pediatric Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy evaluates and addresses problems with gross motor skills.  Children at different ages require varying movements and development to achieve the full mobility needed for walking, running and climbing.  Physical therapy works to achieve the most typical and efficient movement and balance for the child’s body.  A physical therapist uses a variety of treatment activities to help increase strength, endurance and mobility for your child to be able to move within their environment.  Physical therapists also evaluate the need for any adaptive equipment or orthotics your child may need to further his or her success.  Whether using adaptation or working to strengthen and increase range of motion in body parts, a physical therapist can help a child achieve greater mobility and independence in their lives.

Our Pediatric Physical Therapists (PT) work with children and their families to assist each child in reaching their goals to function independently and to promote active participation in home, school and community environments. We complete comprehensive evaluations and provide individualized treatment for children who have difficulty with gross motor skills. Your child might need physical therapy to help with developmental delay, a birth defect, chronic illness or an injury. Physical therapy helps develop the muscle strength and joint range of motion children need to move through their environment easily and effectively.

Physical therapy goals often include help with developmental milestones like sitting, standing, crawling and walking. Our licensed physical therapists also assess the need for orthotics (like splints and braces) and recommend adaptive equipment.

Physical Therapy Treatments

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Aquatic therapy is water-based physical, occupational and speech therapy treatment. It includes exercise or therapeutic activity/movement that benefits our patients who exhibit difficulty with weight bearing activities or have an inability to move their bodies against the weight of gravity. The water allows buoyancy, helps reduce joint pain and provides resistance during therapy based activity.

Each discipline uses this environment to help meet the outcomes specific to the goals set for the patient. We utilize many aquatic therapy techniques and principles including NDT-based aquatic techniques and the Bad Ragaz Ring Method.

Gross motor skills involve the large muscles of the body that are used for functions such as standing, walking, lifting, reaching, sitting, kicking, jumping, running, maintaining balance and coordination. Physical Therapy helps develop the muscle strength and joint range of motion children need to improve gross motor skills and achieve developmental milestones.

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If a child is having trouble functioning in any area of their lives, there is usually some way a therapist can help. Even if the body’s ability is not expected to change, we frequently adapt the environment. Typically, equipment assessment and use can include wheelchair adaptation/ordering, standards, walkers, ADL equipment and augmentative communication devices. Physical, occupational and speech therapy partner with local suppliers to address these needs together.
Children may develop inefficient patterns of walking that are not functional and can be detrimental to their joints.  Gait pattern deviations can present themselves in a pattern of walking that is not developmentally typical.  Certain gait patterns may be developmentally appropriate for a toddler, but are not appropriate for a child over the age of two.  Recognizing and correcting these patterns early can prevent joint pain or deformities, potential issues with gross motor skills such as walking, running or jumping and improve overall efficiency of movement in the child’s environment. For more information on Gait assessment watch this video.
Kinesio Taping® involves the use of a special elastic therapeutic tape that is applied to the skin over a specific muscle or joint.  This taping method is very different than traditional taping methods that often involve rigid tape.  It is Kinesiotape’s elastic properties that encourage the use of weakened muscle groups and improve circulation.  In the pediatric population, Kinesiotape can be used for a variety of purposes, but it is commonly used to encourage the use of proper muscles to perform specific movements over a period of time.  Increased use of a weakened muscle improves strength and quality of movement.  Other therapeutic uses for Kinesiotape include pain management, edema (swelling) management and joint/tendon stabilization. Go to www.kinesiotaping.com for more information or watch this video.
The Lite Gait system assists in gait training by providing a gravity-reduced environment in which to correct posture, control weight bearing, maintain balance and support the patient, allowing for manual assist by the therapist with proper gait patterns. Go to www.litegait.com for more information.

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NDT is the primary treatment technique for individuals with central nervous system impairment such as children with cerebral palsy or traumatic brain injury.  NDT trained therapists believe that due to the central nervous system impairment, atypical posture and movement patterns are used by the child for function.  Unfortunately, it is the use of these patterns that lead to secondary impairments and dysfunction.  NDT trained therapists use clinical thinking to evaluate a person’s movement in order to determine the focus of each physical, occupational or speech therapy session.  Therapeutic handling is used to assist in the facilitation of typical movement to gain function.

Reach Therapy is an NDTA Center of Excellence(NDTCOE). As an NDTCOE, Reach partners with NDTA in education dedicated to training as many therapists as possible in the Neuro-Developmental Treatment Approach. In addition to our trained staff, Reach has hosted many NDTA courses including the 8-week pediatric certification course. Because of our dedication and commitment to this treatment philosophy, we have been named one of the first facilities designated as an NDTA “Center of Excellence”.

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This clinic was developed because as therapists we frequently see babies who are NICU graduates and have delays in achieving developmental milestones and mastering skills.  These delays are often only apparent to specialists.  Brain development is most rapid in the first 2 years of life, making this the ideal time to identify and correct delays.  Studies have demonstrated that early detection and intervention provides the best opportunity for progress.  We use standardized developmental evaluations to detect these delays so that services can begin if necessary.  These evaluations are performed by physical, occupational and speech therapists and generally last about an hour.
Our orthotic clinic provides an on-site opportunity for an orthotist and your child’s therapist to work together and evaluate your child’s orthotic needs. Your child will be evaluated, casted and scheduled for an orthotic fitting on-site. This convenience decreases the amount of time needed to drive to additional appointments and allows for immediate collaboration between medical professionals and parents.
The Therasuit is a soft dynamic proprioceptive orthotic primarily used to restore alignment and proper function of postural muscles to allow the pediatric therapy patient to relearn proper motor patterns for functional movement.  The Therasuit and Universal Exercise Unit (UEU) have been developed and are used in treatment primarily indicated for patients with neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, spasticity, hypotonia, athetosis, ataxia, etc.  This system combines skilled therapy intervention and principles with European technology to target tone management, increase range of motion, increase strength in specific muscle groups, improve motor patterns of movement, inhibit compensatory/reflexive movement patterns and improve overall functional mobility.  The UEU and Therasuit can be used together or separately for individual treatment sessions or during an intensive 3-week program.  The 3-week intensive program will consist of therapy three hours per day, five days per week, for a 3-week period.  This program is provided by a Therasuit trained therapist in one-on-one sessions.

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TheraTogs is an exo-muscular system for neuromotor postural and sensory training.  The suit is worn under the patient’s clothes for up to 16 hours a day and provides the patient with body awareness, bone and joint development and sensory input. In addition, TheraTogs assists with stability issues, provides joint alignment, and supports motor performance. Go to http://www.theratogs.com for more information or watch this video.

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Genesis’s Mom’s Story

“I don’t know how to really feel… I have mixed emotions right now. I’m glad that Genesis finally graduates from physical therapy. She has done so much! She can walk, go up and down the stairs, kick a ball without falling, balance herself better, and even run as fast as she can although my heart skips a beat and she doesn’t want me to hold her hand just in case. I’m proud of all her goals she has accomplished, but my heart feels sad leaving therapy. All the therapists that have been with us at Reach Therapy Center have been part of my family since she was 3 months old. I don’t want to say good bye. Hoping it’s a see you soon.”

-Anna, mother of Genesis (5yr old with Arthrogryposis)