Why Consider Being a Pediatric Physical Therapist?
Being a pediatric physical therapist is a rewarding and fulfilling career choice that provides the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of children and their families. If you have a passion for helping others, enjoy problem-solving, and have a creative mindset, a career as a pediatric physical therapist may be the perfect fit for you. Explore the role of a pediatric physical therapist, the steps to becoming one, and the reasons why it is such a meaningful profession.
What is a Pediatric Physical Therapist?
A pediatric physical therapist specializes in providing therapeutic care to children with physical disabilities, injuries, or developmental delays. They work closely with children from infancy through adolescence, helping them improve their mobility, strength, and overall physical function. Pediatric physical therapists play a crucial role in enhancing the quality of life for children and their families by addressing physical limitations and promoting optimal physical development.
What Does a Pediatric Physical Therapist Do?
A pediatric physical therapist specializes in providing physical therapy to children and infants, typically from birth through adolescence. Their primary focus is on helping children develop and improve their motor skills, mobility, strength, balance, and coordination. Here are some key responsibilities and aspects of what a pediatric physical therapist does:
- Assessment and Evaluation: Pediatric physical therapists assess and evaluate a child’s movement and functional abilities. They work with children who may have developmental delays, neurological conditions, orthopedic problems, congenital disorders, or injuries to determine their specific needs.
- Treatment Planning: Based on their assessments, pediatric physical therapists create individualized treatment plans tailored to each child’s unique needs and goals. These plans may include exercises, stretches, activities, and interventions aimed at improving the child’s physical abilities.
- Mobility and Coordination: They assist children in learning to crawl, walk, run, and perform other gross motor skills. This includes helping children with specific physical conditions or neurological conditions achieve greater mobility and independence. Pediatric physical therapists also use several exercises and activities to build a child’s muscle strength, endurance, and coordination.
How to Become a Pediatric Physical Therapist
Becoming a pediatric physical therapist requires dedication, education, and hands-on experience. Here are the key steps to pursue a career in this field:
Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree
The first step towards becoming a pediatric physical therapist is to complete a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as kinesiology, exercise science, or biology. A strong foundation in these subjects will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue advanced studies in physical therapy.
Step 2: Earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, aspiring pediatric physical therapists must enroll in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. This professional degree program typically takes three years to complete and provides comprehensive training in anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and therapeutic techniques.
Step 3: Gain Clinical Experience
Clinical experience is a crucial component of becoming a pediatric physical therapist. During your DPT program, you will have the opportunity to complete multiple clinical rotations in various healthcare settings, including pediatric hospitals, outpatient clinics, and rehabilitation centers. These hands-on experiences will allow you to apply your theoretical knowledge and develop the practical skills needed to work with pediatric patients.
Step 4: Obtain a State License of Pediatric Physical Therapist
To practice as a pediatric physical therapist, you must obtain a state license. The requirements for licensure may vary by state, but typically include passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) and completing a certain number of supervised clinical hours. Once licensed, you can start working as a pediatric physical therapist and make a meaningful difference in the lives of children.
3 Reasons to Become a Pediatric Physical Therapist
Working with Children and their Families in Pediatric Therapy
One of the most rewarding aspects of being a pediatric physical therapist is the opportunity to work closely with children and their families. Pediatric physical therapists have the privilege of witnessing the progress and growth of their young patients firsthand. From helping a child take their first steps to enabling them to participate in activities they love, pediatric physical therapists play a vital role in improving the lives of children and their families.
Creative Approaches in Pediatric Physical Therapy
As a pediatric physical therapist, you will face unique challenges with each patient, requiring you to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions. Every child is different, and tailoring therapy sessions to their specific needs is essential. Whether it’s designing engaging games or incorporating play-based exercises, pediatric physical therapists use their creativity to make therapy fun and interactive for children while achieving therapeutic goals. Here are some of the most known approaches in physical therapy for children that make this therapy different from others:
- Play-Based Therapy: Pediatric physical therapists often use play as a central component of therapy. Play is a natural way for children to explore their environment, develop motor skills, and build strength. Therapists may incorporate games, toys, and interactive activities into sessions to make therapy enjoyable and meaningful for the child.
- Positive Reinforcement: Encouragement and positive reinforcement play a crucial role in pediatric physical therapy. Therapists praise and reward children for their efforts, helping to boost their confidence and motivation to achieve their goals.
- Daily Activities: Pediatric physical therapists focus on functional activities that are relevant to a child’s daily life. This could include practicing activities like crawling, walking, climbing stairs, or playing sports. By incorporating real-life scenarios, therapy becomes purposeful and relatable for the child.
Working as a pediatric physical therapist allows for personal and professional growth. The field of pediatric physical therapy is constantly evolving, with new research and advancements shaping the way therapists approach treatment. This career path offers opportunities for continuing education, specialization, and professional development, allowing you to expand your knowledge and skills as you progress in your career.
Apply to Pediatric Physical Therapist Jobs at Circle of Care
If you are passionate about making a difference in the lives of children and families, Circle of Care offers exciting opportunities for pediatric physical therapists. As a leader in pediatric therapy services, Circle of Care provides comprehensive and personalized care to children with a wide range of conditions. With a supportive and collaborative team, state-of-the-art facilities, and a focus on evidence-based practice, Circle of Care is committed to empowering therapists to deliver the highest quality care to their young patients. If you are looking for a pediatric physical therapist job, contact us today!