A pediatric physical therapist evaluates his patients to see what their functional abilities and disabilities are. Based on that evaluation he draws a treatment plan. His approach is based on the specific needs of the individual. The therapy he can suggest includes but is not limited to any form of therapeutic exercise, endurance training, use of temperature differences (heat and cold), aquatic therapy, massage, gait training, mobilization, and sometimes even horseback riding.
Most pediatric physical therapists work for the pediatric department of the hospital or for a pediatric hospital. In-patients as well as out-patients are seen here and undergo treatment. But job opportunities are everywhere in the community. Some pediatricians employ pediatric physical therapists to take care of the therapy needs of their patients at the same premises. Home health agencies send nurses and nurses’ aides to the house of a pediatric patient to help with the daily care, respiratory treatments, and care with feeding tubes. They send pediatric physical therapists too to help improve the child’s condition with the help of physical exercises. Especially children with cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy, who are taken care of at home by their family seem to benefit from the help of a pediatric physical therapist who comes to their house. Often these children are too sick to leave their house and without visits from healthcare team members they would not be able to get the so needed treatment or they would have to live in a care center.
Pediatric physical therapists are well-educated and state licensed before they practice their specialty. They start preparing for their career in high school by taking classes that will help them when they go to college. Before starting their actual schooling the perfect candidate works as a volunteer with children in clinics, hospitals, or even pre-schools to ensure that he is interested and patient enough to enter a pediatric field. The next step is enrolling in a medical program of physical therapy. After that, pediatric physical therapy methods are learned while working as a resident. Pediatric aspects are stressed here because the skeletal system of children needs special attention during therapy exercises. Licensing is the next step.
The monetary compensation of a pediatric physical therapist is more than decent. Experienced pediatric physical therapists earn between sixty thousand and one hundred thousand dollars a year. Those who open their private practice can exceed that amount considerably. The job of pediatric physical therapist is very rewarding. To see these children improve their physical skills is extremely rewarding. To see how a four year old shows his mom that he can now bring a spoon to his mouth, which was previously impossible because of his physical dysfunction, is heartwarming.