How can parents help children get the most out of physical therapy?

Whether you are new to physical therapy or your child has been in physical therapy for a while, it is important to remember how crucial the caregiver’s role is for success. Physical therapy sessions make up a small amount of time in the child’s life. Change really happens when children are involved in daily activities aimed at improving their physical needs. This only happens when caregivers are involved and encourage practice at home. Here are just a few reasons why caregiver involvement is so beneficial.

Caregivers understand their child better than anyone else. Period.

As children start physical therapy, it may or may not take time for them to be comfortable with their PT. It could be that the child is uncertain how to act around a new face or in a new environment. Perhaps the therapist is asking the child to do a difficult physical activity that the child has previously avoided. Every child is different and caregivers can help the transition to therapy by getting involved in the sessions.

Caregivers know what games or toys excite the child. They also understand how the child learns best. Caregivers can improve enjoyment of the activities and success when working with a new therapist. After all, PTs don’t want children to be miserable each session! In pediatric physical therapy it is important for PTs to be creative in order to make the exercise as fun as possible because they know it might be difficult for the child. They strive to make sessions entertaining for children in order to encourage a love of physical activity.

It’s easier to carryover changes at home when the caregiver is involved during PT sessions.

Caregivers can help in this process by participating in activities geared towards improving their child’s deficits. Seeing the caregiver actively involved can increase participation and willingness to continue. This can become a great way for the caregiver and child to play together at home. After all, if the child is having fun in PT it’s likely the caregiver will have more fun too. This also makes practicing with the caregiver at home much easier. Not only is it pertinent that the child enjoys PT, but PTs want caregivers to get the most out of each session as well. With active participation in a session, caregivers will be provided with education and first hand experience helping the child achieve their goals. PTs can educate on why certain activities are difficult for the child, how they measure success, and how to make changes at home to help with the achievement of goals.

Active participation can reduce time needed for PT

While this may not always ring true, the likelihood of reducing time spent in PT or reaching results faster increases when caregivers are involved during sessions and at home. Making improvements in strength, flexibility, or gross motor skills doesn’t happen when children are only involved in 1 hour of PT each week. This is not enough time or frequency to make those big changes.

Caregiver involvement can improve participation, increase enjoyment, speed up success, and create a lifetime love for physical activity. Active participation from caregivers should be achieved each session in order for the child and adult to gain as much as possible each visit.

Want to know how a Physical Therapist can Help?

Schedule your infant, child, and teen for an evaluation today and see how a therapist can help your family.
Call (828) 398 0043 or click on the schedule button.

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