Pediatric physical therapists help children with a variety of skills that contribute to movement and independence in daily life.
Some of the main goals of physical therapy might include:
- Improving posture
- Refining motor coordination
- Strengthening muscles
- Increasing motor control
- Improving muscle tone
- Preventing contractures
What is posture?
Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, lying down, or any other static (i.e., not moving) position. Good posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity.
Why is posture important?
Posture keeps the body upright and under control. Without posture, we would not be able to remain standing. Good posture reduces fatigue and stress on the body. Proper alignment lessens the strain put on ligaments and muscles and ultimately helps prevent injury.
Refining motor coordination
What is motor coordination?
Motor coordination is the ability to use the body to perform actions smoothly, efficiently, and accurately.
Why is coordination important?
Coordination allows children to use their body in an organized and planned manner. Poor coordination can negatively impact a child’s fine and gross motor skills and their engagement in the environment.
What is muscle strength?
Muscle strength is how hard a muscle can perform. Strength is a measurement of the greatest amount of force a muscle can produce during maximal effort.
Why is strength important?
Low muscle tone decreases a joint’s stability so strengthening the muscles surrounding the joint provides more support.
Increasing motor control
What is motor control?
Motor control is the process of initiating, directing, and grading purposeful voluntary movement. This process includes having control over muscles during both the planning and execution phases of movement.
Why is motor control important?
Motor control provides a child with the ability to use their gross and fine motor skills with proper coordination. Good motor control helps a child to better navigate their environment and participate in daily activities.
Improving muscle tone
What is muscle tone?
Muscle tone is the maintenance of partial contraction of a muscle and a muscle’s resistance to stretching in a resting state.
Why is muscle tone important?
Muscle tone plays an important role in reflexes, posture, balance, and the overall function of organ systems. Tone prepares the body for actions and allows for a quick and unconscious reaction to internal and external stimuli.
What is a contracture?
A contracture is a fixed tightening of muscle, tendons, ligaments, skin, or joint capsules. This stiffness prevents the affected joint from moving normally and affects overall function.