It is common for most people to assume that physical therapy is only for adults and seniors suffering from injuries or age-related deterioration. The reality is that pediatric physical therapy can not only treat injuries and physical impairments, but can be used to prevent injury and improve long term health. Properly applied, physical therapy can help children and young adults perform better, recovery from injuries, and even avoid injury in sport and play.
Physical therapists are trained to understand not only the developing mechanics of a child’s body, but they also have comprehensive knowledge about how to apply physical therapy to children who may not understand the exercises they need to perform or how to perform them. Young adults are especially well positioned to benefit from physical therapy administered by a trained physical therapist. By implementing carefully applied physical therapy, young adults can learn how to use their bodies at every stage of development, preventing the chances of injury and improving overall biomechanics.
What does this mean for your child or young adult? Simply put, your child does not live in the same body at 14 that she lived in when she was 11. She may still play soccer, but her biomechanics have changed, and her balance may have shifted, putting stress on joints and muscles that are still developing and may not be ready to adapt as quickly as they are changing without guidance. Physical therapists can train an adolescent or child to use their bodies more effectively and to avoid bad habits that can increase their injury risk.
Young adults and children who are involved in competitive sports may benefit from physical therapy as well. The inclusion of a physical therapist in their training programs can help them to use their bodies as they develop to achieve their best performance. Furthermore, they can learn to “feel” how they should move to ensure healthy activity, making it easier for them to learn new skills and to recognize the symptoms of poor biomechanics. This ability to determine when it is time to rest and recover rather than “playing through the pain” can prevent overtraining and subsequent injury.
Physical Therapy can address many issues that commonly affect children and adolescents including:
- Twisted ankles and knees
- Wrist strains and elbow joint injuries
- Poor posture, particularly while sitting
- Improper lifting techniques
- Impact from jumping from high objects
- Joint strain from poor sports techniques
- Use of improper footwear
If your child or young adult could benefit from physical therapy, contact Alan Barb, DPT, OCS Erica Binzer, DPT or Reid Mosely DPT, CSCS here at Move Better Physical Therapy. They can help to identify issues before they become ingrained habits or turn into chronic conditions. The bottom line is that early inclusion of an expert physical therapy program in your child’s life may not only help your child develop properly and enjoy any sport they choose, but may actually improve their physical health and their mental approach to biomechanics throughout their lives.