WHERE DOES PHYSICAL THERAPY TYPICALLY TAKE PLACE?
Physical therapy for toddlers can take place in a variety of settings including, but not limited to: in the child’s home, daycare, clinic, or even through telehealth via a virtual platform. The location of services is dependent on many factors such as therapist availability, transportation, and equipment needs.
WHO PROVIDES PHYSICAL THERAPY FOR THIS POPULATION? A licensed physical therapist will provide physical therapy evaluation and treatment to the toddler. Over the years, physical therapy education has progressed from a Bachelor’s degree, to a Master’s degree, and now requires a Doctorate degree. Each therapist is required to be licensed in the state they practice in and has mandatory continuing education needs each year.
WHAT ARE COMMON TREATMENT GOALS FOR THIS POPULATION?
Goals are individualized for each patient as it relates to their diagnosis, body function and structure, activity limitations and participation restrictions, environmental factors, and other personal factors specific to the toddler. These may include achievement of age-appropriate developmental milestones, specific strengthening in a body region, promotion of appropriate posture and alignment, requisition of specialized equipment needs, decreasing pain, rehabilitation post-op or after an injury, and overall improving motor function.
WHAT DOES A PHYSICAL THERAPY EVALUATION LOOK LIKE FOR AN TODDLER?
A physical therapy evaluation typically begins with a conversation between the therapist and parent/caregiver regarding the patient’s medical history. The medical history is important to further understand the needs of the patient. Next, the physical therapist will perform a physical assessment of the patient that is individualized to each toddler specific to their needs, often including strength testing, range of motion assessment, palpation of affected region(s), and overall assessment of functional mobility. Furthermore, observation occurs to assess gross motor skills often utilizing one or more standardized tests, which may include the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency or the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales Assessment.
WHAT ARE COMMON EXERCISES OR ACTIVITIES COMPLETED?
Physical therapy treatment sessions are individualized to each patient, but will typically include gentle stretching, massage, strengthening activities, exercises to improve head control and/or posture, and working on achievement of age-appropriate gross motor skills (such as jumping). Each treatment session is geared specifically to the needs of each patient and may include one or several of the items listed. The job of the therapist is to address the set goals while incorporating toys, games, and other fun activities to make therapy an exciting, motivating, and positive environment.