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5 Ways a Toddler Can Benefit from Physical Therapy

young child in physical therapy

Parents will do everything to ensure their child’s safety throughout the many stages of the child’s development. Physical therapy has become a well-prescribed early intervention remedy for developmental challenges or deficiencies apparent at birth. Physical therapy can also significantly benefit toddlers with limited movement related to an illness, injury, disease or disability.

If your child struggles with any of the above issues, physical therapy can help them attain or improve the functional skills needed for daily living. Keep reading to learn how pediatric physical therapy works and the benefits of physical therapy for a toddler.

What Is Pediatric Physical Therapy?

Pediatric physical therapy involves a wide range of workouts and exercises to strengthen muscles and tendons. Like physical therapy provided at the gym or with a personal trainer, physical therapists who work with children are trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating pediatric injuries, illnesses and disabilities.

A toddler might need physical therapy to establish muscle strength and address possible obstacles as they grow. This form of therapy can help children in different stages of development thrive and may be needed if a movement limitation interferes with their daily activities. As a result, doctors generally recommend physical therapy for toddlers with:

  • Developmental delays
  • Genetic disorders
  • Effects of exposure before birth to drugs or alcohol
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Limb conditions
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Heart and lung conditions
  • Mobility challenges related to autism
  • Congenital disabilities like spina bifida
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Acute trauma
  • Head injury
  • Muscle diseases

5 Ways a Toddler Can Benefit from Physical Therapy

Numerous aspects of physical therapy can benefit toddlers and children of all ages. Keep reading to understand a few of the main advantages of pediatric physical therapy:

1. Address Injuries or Pain

Children without disorders or mobility conditions can also benefit from physical therapy if they have an injury like a broken arm or fractured wrist.

After a traumatic incident, such as a sports injury, pediatric physical therapists can work with your child to decrease their pain, regain complete muscle control and help them return to their prior level of functioning. They’ll teach children exercises to restore strength and may improve their circulation around injuries through heat, cold, massage or ultrasound.

Physical therapists can also show children and their families how to prevent future injuries and tell them when it’s safe to return to sports and daily activities. It’s essential that children follow their therapy routine closely and address concerns quickly since their bodies will be growing while undergoing the recovery process.

2. Independently Perform Gross Motor Skills

Some children may not be able to perform the same gross motor tasks as their peers. This can make it difficult for them to keep up with other children during play. Physical therapists can offer guidance to help your child develop gross motor skills, including:

  • Crawling
  • Sitting
  • Hopping
  • Skipping
  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Throwing a ball
  • Climbing stairs

Physical therapists can help toddlers develop these gross motor skills through various therapeutic activities. For those with milder symptoms, a therapy goal might include walking with less assistance. For someone with severe mobility challenges, therapists might teach a child how to operate a wheelchair. Exercises and fun activities can help kids establish and reshape their movement patterns for healthier development.

3. Independently Perform Functional Mobility Skills

Children with congenital conditions or disorders that make it difficult to move their bodies can significantly benefit from pediatric physical therapy for increased mobility. Kids born with a neurological condition can experience increased muscle tone that causes pain, stiffness in their limbs and trouble controlling their movements.

Children will learn to increase their range and movement quality to perform functional mobility skills. Exercises might include general muscle strengthening and stretching routines. Therapists might assist children through positioning strategies to prevent muscle issues. Children with trouble walking or those who frequently trip or walk on the balls of their feet might also benefit from a regular physical therapy routine.

4. Improve Movement to Help Children Return to Daily Activities

Injuries and specific conditions or diseases can disrupt a child’s daily activities. When the child recovers, they may still find it difficult to partake in the activities they enjoy the most, from playtime with friends to recess or sports.

A pediatric therapist can guide children through targeted exercises to help them regain their former mobility or adapt to a new type of movement. They’ll employ various treatments focusing on strength-building and improving movement patterns. This way, children can return to their daily activities and keep developing as expected.

5. Improve Balance and Prevent Falls

Toddlers develop a mature gait several months after they learn to walk. However, if they have a developmental disability, they may experience difficulties with balance, increasing their risk of falls and injury.

Pediatric physical therapy for developmental delays can include exercises like walking or crawling. These activities help children improve their balance and reduce safety concerns. Physical therapy might also guide children through:

  • Flexibility exercises
  • Promoting balance and equilibrium skills
  • Improving postural control
  • Gait training

Through this wide range of activities, children can improve their balance and mobility.

Longterm Benefits of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can significantly benefit kids with developmental delays or long-term treatment conditions. Since children grow rapidly, therapy can help reduce developmental challenges and promote overall health and wellness. Pediatric physical therapists work closely with you to identify your child’s goals which may include:

  • Range of motion: Therapists can help children bend or straighten certain joints and improve their movements.
  • Strength: Children will feel more prepared to partake in fun activities and daily functional skills by strengthening their muscles.
  • Balance: Therapists can help children develop protective responses such as maintaining balance.
  • Reflexes: Automatic responses and reflexes typically seen in infants include palmar grasp, asymmetrical tonic neck reflex and positive support.
  • Posture: Therapy can help promote healthy body alignment in various positions. Physicians can teach you how to put your toddler in positions that promote good posture and movement.
  • Tone: Through various exercises, professionals can help children gain natural muscle resistance.

As your child works through physical therapy, professionals monitor their progress and adjust methods as needed.

Get Pediatric Physical Therapy Services

Physical therapy is crucial for many toddlers’ overall health and happiness, whether they have a congenital disorder, developmental delay or injury. Depending on your child’s unique situation, pediatric therapists can assist them through personalized methods to help them grow, heal or develop essential skills.

The highly trained therapists at Orlando Children’s Therapy, a Kids SPOT family company, can help your child build their strength and motor skills through exciting play-based activities. Our services can also help your child recover from injuries and restore their ability to play and have fun without pain.

To learn more about our services, get in touch with us today.