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P&K How To: How To Know If a PT or OT Will Help Your Child

By Rhyan Davis

Physical and occupational therapists help a wide variety of patients (including children) with ailments ranging from holding a pencil correctly to recovering from an accident. If your child suffers from any of the following challenges, a physical or occupational therapist might be able to help.

Your child may benefit from seeing an occupational therapist if he struggles with anything on the lists below.

  • Fine or Gross Motor Skills: holding a pencil or silverware, using scissors, not developing a hand dominance by an appropriate age, climbing stairs, or poor balance.
  • Developmental Delay: not learning at an appropriate age level or reaching developmental milestones, or not developing appropriate play or social skills.
  • Sensory Processing: difficulty recognizing shapes and letters, excessive drool or chewing food only in the front of the mouth, difficulty drinking through a straw, excessively picky eating (only choosing foods with certain textures), under-responsive to certain situations (very high pain tolerance), or inability to calm self when upset.
  • Learning Challenges: hyperactivity or low energy, inability to concentrate in school, difficulty learning new material or following instructions, trouble completing work, or delayed language skills.
  • Social or Play Skills: difficulty engaging with peers, needing adult guidance to initiate play, not understanding concepts of sharing or taking turns, or participating in repetitive play for hours.

Your child may benefit from seeing a physical therapist if he struggles with these issues.

  • Injury: strains and sprains, concussions, or broken bones (rebuilding muscle strength after a cast).
  • Severe Health Conditions: chronic pain, abnormal spine development or orthopedic disabilities, cerebral palsy, autism, arthritis, birth defects such as spina bifida, or heart and lung conditions.
  • Completing Everyday Tasks: climbing stairs, walking, playing (running, jumping, skipping), standing up straight, sitting up by an appropriate age or sitting correctly, also walking on tiptoes more often than usual, crawling when he should be walking, or favoring one side of the body.

Whether your child has suffered from an injury or struggles with everyday tasks, a physical therapist could help him reach his full potential and improve his quality of life. If your doctor has recommended a physical or occupational therapist for your child, take the advice and see how your child grows and improves! Therapy is a great way for your child to learn goal-setting and take pride in himself after overcoming a challenge.


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