When will my child sit, crawl, walk?
It’s one of the first questions I get asked as a physical therapist. The truth is, I don’t know.
During physical therapy, sometimes, I can tell if a child is on the brink of walking or hitting a developmental milestone. Honestly, development is individualized and personal. There is a range of normal when it comes to development. Even for children outside of that range, we look for progression which may be at a pace different from those of their peers. With that said, if your child is receiving physical therapy services, it’s good to keep a few things in mind to get the most of each session.
Below you will find tips for getting the most out of your physical therapy sessions – whether you are getting therapy in a clinic or in the home.
Have a Good History Ready
The more your therapist knows about your child the better she will be prepared to help your child progress. Include your pregnancy, birth, complications, surgeries, diagnosis, milestones, challenges, family support, daily routine and goals you have in mind. If you can email or have a copy of this ready for your therapist, it will make her day!
Your therapist will do an evaluation at the first physical therapy meeting and from time to time. Ask questions.
What are the goals being set for your child?
Are they in line with your own goals that you have set?
Are your goals realistic?
What sort of treatments will your child be receiving?
Stay in Tune
If it’s not a disturbance to your child, ask if you can watch the physical therapy session on occasion. You can pop your head in from time to time to see how your child is responding to his or her therapist. What is your child’s demeanor like when he finishes therapy?
Ask for Homework
Ask your therapist what physical therapy you can be doing at home with your child. Your therapist can show you how to properly stretch, exercise and move your child in supportive ways that encourage motor development and minimize injury. In addition, your therapist can assist you with equipment needs to minimize regression, encourage proper positioning or assist with daily activities.
Your therapist can be an invaluable asset to your child’s development, but they may be seeing your child just once each week. The other six days are where the real physical therapy occurs and those who work with their children see far more gains than those who rely on once a week for improvements.
Use Your Head
You know your child best. Offer suggestions to your therapist as to what is working at home and what is not. Use your common sense – if something is off or seems ineffective, then don’t do it.
Look for Milestones
You may or may not see changes from one session to the next. However, over a period of time you should see your child progressing from one milestone to the next.
Remember that physical therapy sessions can really impact your child for the better. Physical therapy is a team approach that requires you, your child, your family and the therapist to be truly effective.