By Jessica Heiden, DPT
Pediatric rehabilitation professionals treat children for a variety of conditions. An infant may have trouble feeding. A toddler may need therapy to learn how to walk or speak effectively. A child who uses a ventilator or a teen injured in an accident may need longer term services.
Pediatric rehabilitation is specifically designed to help develop children’s bones and muscles. The goal is to help kids get better, be as functional as possible, and live life to their fullest potential.
Physical therapy improves strength, coordination, balance and large-muscle movements like crawling, walking, running and jumping.
Occupational therapy helps children develop skills needed to play, learn and complete daily activities more independently.
Speech therapy assists with feeding issues, such as difficulty chewing or swallowing, and communication challenges, including speech disorders.
Depending on the individual patient, a child may need more than one type of therapy. In some instances, therapy is provided in the home for children who cannot travel.
Expectations for therapy
Therapists choose to work in pediatrics so they can provide the services, compassion, patience and support that children need.
Finding the right pediatric rehabilitation team for your child and family involves asking the right questions. What training and experience does the therapy team have? Do the therapists have experience with specific conditions or diseases? Have they managed care for patients with multiple or complex conditions? Are they available to provide care when my child needs it? Does my insurance plan cover the care my child needs? How well connected is the team with local physicians?
Pediatric rehabilitation requires trust between the therapist, child and family. The family’s input and participation in the child’s care are essential for achieving the best patient outcomes. A pediatric rehabilitation professional is also an important source of information for families.
Make sure the therapy team will:
Help you understand your child’s condition and therapy options, so you can make informed decisions.
Incorporate your family’s preferences and values into your child’s care plan.
Show you how to be an active participant in your child’s therapy.
Connect you with community resources, such as medical equipment suppliers, support groups and more.
Help you with insurance considerations.
In your first visit with your child’s therapist, the therapist should take time to ask and answer questions, discuss the needs of your child and family and get to know you. Over the course of therapy, the therapist should share observations about your child and information about your child’s condition, specific therapies and therapy equipment. Also be sure to discuss the goals of therapy, any issues experienced at home or school, and specific health care and community resources.
Coordination of care
Pediatric therapists collaborate with each child’s medical team and coordinate care with other providers as needed.
Coordinating therapies has many benefits. For example, it may be best to provide two therapy sessions in one visit for a child who needs both speech and physical therapy. The physical therapist can work with the child on larger movements. At the same time, the speech therapist can work with the child on language and speech related to the activity.
A therapist may also consult with the patient’s teachers. They may discuss how the child’s therapeutic needs can be served in the school setting. They may also help identify ways the child can complete schoolwork at home.
Whether a child needs short-term therapy for balance or speech, or longer term services for developmental challenges or complex mobility needs, a full-service pediatric rehabilitation team can make all the difference. Ask your doctor about the benefits of expert rehabilitation services for your child.
Jessica Heiden, DPT is a pediatric physical therapist with ProHealth Care’s Rehabilitation Services. ProHealth Care provides rehabilitation services for children in Brookfield and Waukesha. Rehabilitation services are also provided for adults at 14 ProHealth Care locations in Waukesha County. Call 262-780-0707 for information about pediatric rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation services can help children overcome health issues or improve function and quality of life. Your child’s therapist works together with you to provide care that fits your family. Talk to your child’s physician about a referral for pediatric rehabilitation services associated with:
Acute and chronic conditions, such as such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, acute flaccid myelitis, muscular dystrophy or idiopathic toe walking
Congenital disorders (conditions present at birth, such as genetic conditions, cerebral palsy or mitochondrial disorders)
Broken bones or other injuries
Developmental delays or disorders
Feeding and swallowing disorders
Positional plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome)
Sensory processing disorders
Torticollis (twisted and titled neck)
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For more than a century, ProHealth Care has been the health care leader in Waukesha County and surrounding areas, providing outstanding care across a full spectrum of services. The people of ProHealth Care strive to continuously improve the health and well-being of the community by combining skill, compassion and innovation. The ProHealth family includes ProHealth Waukesha Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin, ProHealth Medical Group, the UW Cancer Center at ProHealth Care, Moreland Surgery Center, ProHealth AngelsGrace Hospice, ProHealth Home Care, ProHealth West Wood Health & Fitness Center and ProHealth Regency Senior Communities. Learn more at ProHealthCare.org.