Preparing for Pediatric Physical Therapy Evaluation

Coming to a physical therapist for your child for the first time can be an overwhelming and confusing experience – but it doesn’t have to be! Here at North Shore Pediatric Therapy we have outlined the most important information to know before you go to the pediatric physical therapist for the first time.Pediatric physical therapist smiling

Paperwork: Although no one enjoys filling out form after form, this information is essential to the therapist and office staff. Please remember to bring the following with you at your first appointment. This information will be emailed to you by the family-child advocate before you come in.

  • Copy of your physician’s prescription for physical therapy. It is imperative that we have this on file before any ongoing treatment sessions.
  • Insurance Card 
  • Your child’s past medical history. We will ask questions concerning his or her gross motor milestones and at what ages these were achieved, as well as birth history, pertinent family health history, educational history and general information about your child’s motor, language and social skills. Also if your child has visited a therapist before and you have documentation from these visits, we would be happy to make a copy of those as well.
  • A clear picture of your availability for future appointments. We will do our very best to make all future treatment appointments at the initial evaluation.

Equipment: It would be helpful to us and your child if you bring a few things along with you.

For infants and younger children:

  • A toy that he or she responds to and enjoys can be used during treatment. This helps us transition the child to the new environment and is good for tracking skills.
  • A onesie to wear during the treatment sessions. At the evaluation we will observe the child moving without clothes on (except for the diaper) to observe his or her muscles and general tone.
  • A blanket can be more comfortable for the children to move around on. If you don’t have one don’t worry, our treatment mat is soft and secure.
  • A pacifier can help to soothe your child
  • A bottle or source of food might help if the child becomes hungry. He or she will be working hard and might become hungrier than normal.
  • A change of diapers is never a bad idea!

For toddlers and older children:

  • Dress your child in comfortable clothes that are easy to climb, jump, roll, crawl and move in.
  • Wear athletic shoes and socks to the appointment. We will complete most exercises without shoes on in order to accurately assess balance and movement skills. However, it is helpful for the therapist to see what footwear the child wears and if additional recommendations are warranted.

What do we do?

  • Strength and range of motion testing.
  • Assess gross motor milestones (i.e. rolling, crawling, running, jumping, skipping)
  • Discuss treatment plan and what you should expect out of therapy.
  • Plan functional short term and long term goals for your child.
  • Standardized testing is usually completed in order to get a baseline measurement for your child. These tests allow us to measure your child against his or her peers, and create realistic projections for what we can expect to achieve through therapy.

The physical therapist working with your child will be able to answer all of your questions pertaining to his or her diagnosis at the first appointment. Any questions that come up after that initial evaluation can be answered before, during or after future appointments via email, phone, or in-person conversations. Thank you for taking the time to read this and be prepared. We look forward to meeting you and your child!

* This article was also written by Adele Nathan, Student Physical Therapist at North Shore Pediatric Therapy