For some children with neurodevelopmental differences, physical therapy may offer a pathway to improve motor skills, balance, coordination, and overall physical functioning. Conducted by licensed physical therapists with specialized training in pediatric development, physical therapy programs are tailored to meet the unique needs of each child. 

A young child climbing during a physical therapy session.

How Physical Therapy Builds Skills 

Children with neurodevelopmental differences often face challenges in physical movement, strength, and coordination. Physical therapy targets these areas by focusing on: 

  • Gross and fine motor skills 

  • Balance and coordination 

  • Muscle strength and tone 

  • Joint flexibility 

  • Posture and gait training 

The benefits of physical therapy may include: 

  • Enhanced mobility and independence 

  • Improved strength and endurance 

  • Better coordination and balance 

  • Increased participation in daily activities 

  • Prevention of future physical injuries or complications 

What to Expect During Physical Therapy Sessions 

Physical therapy sessions are designed to be engaging and child-friendly and may take place in clinics, schools,  at home, or in other settings. During these sessions, children might engage in: 

  • Exercises tailored to improve specific motor skills 

  • Activities that build strength and endurance 

  • Balance and coordination tasks 

  • Gait training and posture exercises 

  • Play-based therapy to enhance engagement and enjoyment 

Physical therapists develop individualized treatment plans with your child’s goals in mind.

A young boy and a therapist working together during a physical therapy session.

Incorporating Physical Therapy at Home 

Physical therapists may encourage caregivers to further enhance their child’s progress by carrying out physical therapy exercises at home. Here are some suggestions for caregivers: 

  • Make sure that any exercises recommended by the physical therapist are practical for you to complete at home. For example, if you have limited space or equipment, let the physical therapist know so that they may create a treatment plan with that in mind. 

  • Create a routine and practice recommended exercises consistently 

  • Encourage movement during playtime 

  • Focus on setting small, achievable goals to keep your child motivated 

  • Provide a safe environment that is safe for physical activity to minimize the risk of injury 

  • Acknowledge and praise your child’s efforts and achievements 

The Duration of Physical Therapy 

The duration of physical therapy varies, depending on the child’s specific needs, the severity of their challenges, and their rate of progress. Continuous assessment and communication with the therapist can help ensure that the child continues to progress. 

Physical therapy can enhance children’s quality of life and independence.  By understanding the benefits of physical therapy and actively participating in the therapy process, caregivers can play a crucial role in supporting their child’s development and well-being.