Posts Tagged ‘physical therapy’

Physical therapy – can it help your preemie?

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Preemie walkingMany children born prematurely may need help catching up with developmental milestones such as sitting, crawling or walking. They may need assistance learning everyday activities such as dressing, too. Physical therapy – one type of habilitative service – may help. Habilitative services are those therapies that help a child develop new skills needed for everyday life.

October is National Physical Therapy Month. This is a great time to become aware of the benefits that physical therapy (PT) can offer your child, whether he was born prematurely or full term.

What does PT do?

Physical therapy can help your child increase strength and flexibility. It can also improve posture, balance, coordination and movement. PT usually focuses on large muscle groups, such as the legs, but it can also involve the entire body.

A physical therapist is a professional who has specific training in understanding the way a body works – especially muscle groups. She can assess your child and provide individualized therapy which will help him improve in the areas where he is weak. PTs are very creative in their approach to working with children. In fact, the therapy can be lots of fun, and most children look forward to their PT sessions.

Does insurance cover PT?

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), habilitative services must be covered by insurance. They are included in the ACA as Essential Health Benefits, which means they need to be covered under individual and small group health insurance plans. Check your state for specific details. For information on enrolling in your state’s marketplace for health insurance, go to or call 1-800-318-2596.

Early intervention may include PT at no cost to parents

If your child is under the age of three, he may be eligible for Early Intervention services, which is a federal program provided in every state. Physical therapy is one of many services available for eligible infants and toddlers if they qualify. Therapy is usually provided at no cost to parents.

If your child is age three or older, he may qualify for PT through your local school district as a Related Service. This post will tell you how to access it.

Bottom line

As with all delays or disabilities, it is important to seek help as early as possible. The sooner your child gets the help he needs, the sooner he can begin improving.

Have questions? Text or email

See other posts on Delays and Disabilities: how to help your child.


Kids with challenges zoom on souped up kiddie cars

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

tot in carThere are times when I see someone doing something wonderful to help toddlers and young kids with special needs and I just HAVE to speak up and tell others. Today, I experienced such a moment.

There are all kinds of delays and disabilities: gross motor, fine motor, speech, non-verbal, social, hearing, processing, learning, and the list goes on. Here is something new for tots with gross motor disabilities (problems using large muscles of the body such as the legs to walk, crawl, sit up, etc.).

At the University of Delaware, Dr. Cole Galloway, a professor of physical therapy and a scientist, teamed up with his colleague, Dr. Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering, with the goal of increasing exploration in children with special needs. They take basic ride-on cars available at toy stores, and adapt them to suit the particular needs of a child with motor disabilities. The result is a specially powered kiddie car that a child is able to ride.

Why is this so wonderful?

The efforts of Drs. Galloway and Agrawal have enabled children with gross motor disabilities to zoom around on these powered cars and play with classmates the same as any non-disabled child. In other words, for part of his day, a child with motor limitations can now play and compete with peers on equal footing.  The result is a child who suddenly sees himself on par with the kids in his class or his neighborhood. He is not “different” when he is in his car. The self-esteem and social connections that develop as a result of his new experiences are profound. Of course, the added fun to his life doesn’t hurt either!

This idea is changing the lives of these kids. Literally. The video (below) describes how these adapted cars enable children to increase their mobility as well as their socialization.

PT on the car

Another cool benefit of this kind of mobile car is that it can augment a child’s specific physical therapy (PT) needs. For example, if a child has trouble keeping his head up due to his disability, powering the car by pushing a button with his head can be a fun way to work on this physical therapy goal. Talk about a motivator!

Do it yourself

The best news yet is that parents can change ordinary ride-on cars into personalized motor cars themselves, by following the instructions Drs. Galloway and Agrawal have created.  They are freely sharing this information and have made it as easy as possible to “do it yourself.”

So, watch this video (with some tissues ready), and then, pass it on (with a pair of pliers) to parents you know with little ones who struggle with motor issues. Thanks to the genius of these professors and their open hearts, kids with special needs can be just “kids.” At least for a little while.


Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). As always, we welcome your comments and input – send them to

What is physical therapy or “PT”?

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

child-on-tricyclePhysical Therapy, or PT, can help your child increase strength, flexibility or endurance, and improve posture, balance and movement (such as walking). Therapy can help improve overall function and reduce disability. PT generally involves “gross motor” therapy, which means large body parts, such as the legs, but it can involve the entire body.

PT may be provided for your baby, toddler or school age child, depending on her needs. If you have a child with a developmental delay, disability or medical condition, her doctor may recommend PT.  Likewise, if your child is evaluated for early intervention services by the Child Find services or by your local school district, she may qualify for PT services. (See my posts on early intervention for babies and toddlers or intervention for children ages 3 and older to learn how to request an evaluation for free.) PT falls under the umbrella of “Related Services” which is available for children with disabilities, in order for them to benefit from special education.

In most cases, if your child qualifies (based on the results of an evaluation), she will receive the PT services for free. However, every state has slightly different regulations, so you should check with your state to find out more specifics.

Who provides the PT services?

The IDEA (law) says that physical therapy means “services provided by a qualified physical therapist.” Every state requires a physical therapist to be licensed. A physical therapist is highly educated. In fact, according to their credentialing organization, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA),  “all physical therapists must receive a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapist program before taking the national licensure exam that allows them to practice. Physical therapists have the most specialized education to help people restore and improve motion.”

Where will the PT take place?

If your child qualifies for PT, services will be provided at a place that is appropriate for your child. This may be your home, a PT center, hospital, or your child’s local school. PTs who work with children are usually very creative. They find engaging ways to interact with your child, making the sessions fun while working toward goals. Kids usually enjoy PT sessions and look forward to them.

Remembering back to when my daughter received PT, she “played” with scarves and bean bags, ran obstacle courses, climbed ropes and balanced on huge balls or balance beams. She loved playing games such as Twister with some of her classmates. She even learned to ride a tricycle in her PT sessions!

What will the goals of PT be?

Specific needs and goals will be outlined in your child’s individualized plan. This is called an IFSP – Individualized Family Service Plan (for kids from birth to age 3) and an IEP -Individualized Education Program (for kids ages 3 and older). This document will provide details of the services she will receive, such as the specific goals to be achieved, how often she will see the physical therapist and the place where services will take place. Parents, as team members, have input into the creation of this very important document.

Often a PT will coordinate therapy goals with your child’s other therapists, such as an occupational therapist, to maximize results. And, it is important that a child’s teacher understand the goals and objectives of the PT sessions so that progress can be integrated into the classroom.

Remember, the goals to be achieved are specific to each individual child, and is based on her needs. Every child is unique! There is no one-size-fits-all plan. And, at a minimum, goals need to be reviewed and updated yearly. See my prior post on how to create a good IEP.

Bottom line

Physical therapy has helped many babies, toddlers and children to overcome obstacles. If your child qualifies to receive this service, it may make a huge difference in her life!

Have questions?  Send them to

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started on January 16, 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Feel free to go back to look at prior posts as the series builds on itself. As always, we welcome your comments and input.