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 care 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 will teach the kid how to walk with crutches and how to go up and
down stairs. Therapists know the best way to hold crutches and teach kids how much
weight they can put on the broken
When first learning to walk with crutches, the physical therapist 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 kids 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, slides, and sometimes even interactive video
games 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 1 hour, depending on the
kid's age and the type of problems he or she is having.
Do You Want to Be a Physical Therapist?
If you're interested in science, how the body works, and caring for people, you
might think about being a physical therapist. You will need to go to college (for
4 years) and then to a graduate school program (for 2 or more years) before you can
work as a physical therapist. (The entry level degree is the doctorate of physical
But all that school is worth it. A therapist who works with kids told us that pediatric
PTs love their jobs because they help kids learn to move their bodies so they can
play, feed themselves, walk, and run with their families and friends.