Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Skip Navigation LinksBoys Town Pediatrics > Knowledge Center > Pediatric Advisor

Physical Therapy

________________________________________________________________________

KEY POINTS

  • Physical therapy is a program of diagnosis and treatment that can help your child improve his ability to move and help him stretch, relax, and strengthen his muscles and joints.
  • Physical therapy is used to help treat many diseases, birth defects, and injuries.
  • Treatment may include exercise, manual therapy, heat, ice, or electrical therapy.

________________________________________________________________________

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy is a program of diagnosis and treatment that can help your child improve his ability to move and help him stretch, relax, and strengthen his muscles and joints. It may also help your child have less pain.

When is it used?

Your child may need physical therapy if he has:

  • An injury or surgery
  • A birth defect or developmental delay
  • A condition that makes it hard to move some parts of his body such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy
  • Weakness from being bedridden
  • Autistic spectrum disorder
  • Problems caused by obesity

Premature babies may have physical therapy to learn to move or gain strength. Physical therapy can also help your child learn how to move properly to prevent injury.

How does it work?

On your child’s first visit the physical therapist will examine your child and ask about his health history and any problems your child is having. Make sure that you let the therapist know if there are activities your child wants to be able to do. The therapist will do tests and check your range of motion and strength.

There are many different types of treatments. The treatments that are right for your child depend on his condition.

  • Manual therapy includes any "hands-on" movement of a joint, muscles, or other tissue by the therapist. It can increase your child’s range of motion and strength and can lessen pain and swelling.
  • Therapeutic exercise can help improve strength, joint and muscle movement, flexibility, balance, coordination, and posture. Your child may do exercises at the clinic, at home, or both.
  • Heat and ice treatments help make your child’s muscle and joints more flexible and lessen pain and swelling. Treatments may include:
    • Ultrasound, which uses sound waves for deep heating of tissues.
    • Cold packs and ice massage
    • Whirlpools and water therapy
    • Hot packs and paraffin baths
  • Electrical therapy treatments can lessen pain, swelling, and muscle spasms. They may help retrain and strengthen weak muscles and help wounds and soft tissues heal. Examples include:
    • Biofeedback therapy, which trains your child to be aware of his body and how it works. Your child is connected to a machine that senses the body's response and gives your child feedback in the form of lights or sounds. The therapist can help your child use the feedback to learn new ways to control muscles.
    • Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS), which uses electrodes placed on your child’s skin to stimulate nerves and help block pain
Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.3 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2015-05-07
Last reviewed: 2014-10-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
Page footer image