When children and adolescents have difficulties with movement, posture, body position, strength or balance, physical therapy can be used to both identify and treat the problem. Physical therapy helps children and adolescents improve movement through play, therapeutic exercises, handling techniques, and balance/strength training.
Damage or abnormalities of the nervous system can affect a child’s movement and balance skills, including rolling, sitting, crawling, and walking. Physical therapy helps children and adolescents improve these physical movements and decrease falls with special exercises, handling techniques, and building strength through play. The goals of physical therapy may include improving a child’s functional skills, and preventing or limiting disability in a variety of developmental areas. Physical therapists may also modify an environment based on the child’s physical and cognitive challenges, as well as provide adaptive equipment to assist in walking, standing, sitting and other functional tasks.
Benefits of Physical Therapy for Children and Adolescents with Special Needs
Children and adolescents with special needs may face a range of physical challenges. The goal of physical therapy is to help the child overcome any physical limitations, and avoid developing certain compensatory patterns of movement that are often associated with conditions such as Down Syndrome or cerebral palsy.
Children and adolescents with cerebral palsy can learn to overcome limitations through physical therapy by improving mobility and developing alternative ways to perform certain tasks. In addition to the physical benefits, this increased mobility allows children and adolescents with cerebral palsy to interact with peers and adults more often, thereby improving emotional health as well.
Children and adolescents with Down syndrome often compensate for certain physical limitations, such as decreased strength, hypotonia, ligamentous laxity or short limbs by using certain movement patterns. These movement patterns, if not corrected, can cause functional and orthopedic difficulties. Physical therapy can reduce the development of these movement patterns and assist in providing adaptive equipment to support a child’s full potential.
Could Your Child Benefit from Physical Therapy?
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Connections Therapy Center offers physical therapy to children and adolescents with special needs in Prince George’s County, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, northern Virginia, and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.