Physical therapy is a type of medical treatment that helps a person move his or her body. You might wonder why anyone would need help moving. But if you've ever had a broken bone or a bad injury, you know how hard it can be to do normal things, like walk or throw a baseball.
Physical therapy helps people who have been injured, or who have a physical disability such as cerebral palsy, so they can move their bodies better.
Physical therapists (or PTs) are health professionals who know a lot about how the body moves and how to improve movement. They treat people as young as little babies and as old as great-grandparents.
Someone might go to one physical therapy session or many sessions over months or years. During the sessions, the PT teaches the person exercises and special stretches. This therapy can strengthen weak muscles and show the person new ways of getting around.
When Kids Go to Physical Therapy
A broken leg is a good example of why a kid might go to physical therapy. Before leaving the hospital, the physical therapist would teach the kid how to walk with crutches and how to go up and down stairs. Therapists know the best way to hold onto crutches and teach kids how much weight they can put on the broken leg.
While learning to walk with crutches, a kid might wear a safety belt so he or she doesn't fall down or stumble while practicing. The PT also teaches the child's parents about using crutches safely on flat surfaces and stairs. It's important for the kid to wear good supportive shoes, like sneakers, when using crutches.
Learning by Playing
Kids learn by playing, so physical therapists often have toys for kids to use. You might find balls, benches, swings, and slides in a pediatric therapy gym. Kids can have some fun during these therapy sessions, though it can be a lot of hard work to make muscles stronger and learn to do new things.
Some kids might see a PT just one or two times, whereas other kids may be in therapy for many months. The sessions usually last 30 minutes to 60 minutes, depending on the kid's age and the type of problems he or she is having.
Reviewed by: Maureen Donohoe, PT, DPT, PCS
Date reviewed: May 2011
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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.