October is National Physical Therapy Month and an important time of the year to promote physical therapy as a profession. There are many areas physical therapists can specialize in: orthopedics, neurology, pediatrics, women’s health, sports, cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy, and geriatrics. So why did I choose to specialize in children’s physical therapy?
These are the top 5 reasons I love being a pediatric physical therapist:
- I sing, I dance, and I laugh, daily. Being a pediatric physical therapist is as much about creativity as clinical competency. We have to use our knowledge of human movement and development to detect early health and mobility problems in infants, children, and adolescents with a variety of injuries, disorders, and diseases. But at the same time, we have to make exercises and the whole therapy process FUN! I spend a majority of my work day dancing, singing, and jumping right along with my clients. Studies have shown that the simple act of smiling can bring about happiness. I can definitely attest to that!
- I don’t have to choose. Being a specialist in the field of physical therapy means clinicians must focus on specific body systems or medical diagnoses. For example, orthopedic specialists often diagnose and treat disorders of the musculoskeletal system, and neurological specialists often concentrate on neurological conditions such as brain injury, spinal cord injury, or Parkinson’s. Meanwhile, so much goes into a child’s development that pediatric physical therapists don’t have to choose. We often work with musculoskeletal injuries, neurological insults, as well as cardiopulmonary abnormalities during development. In planning and carrying out treatment for a variety of conditions such as cerebral palsy, adolescent sports injuries, and cystic fibrosis, we don’t have to choose between different systems of the body.
- I am still learning. Every stage of children’s development, from the typical and atypical to the cognitive and physical, fascinates me. What is awesome about being a specialist in children’s development is that I have to be constantly up to date on the latest research on children. With the advances in modern medicine come a new assortment of complications and need for therapeutic interventions. In working alongside other pediatric healthcare professionals such as behavioral analysts, speech therapists, pediatricians, neuropsychologists, and occupational therapists, I gain invaluable insight into every aspect of the development of children. Every age, diagnosis, and milestone presents another learning opportunity.
- I am proud of what I do. There are certainly days when the most that I accomplish is a pile of paperwork. Yet rarely is there a day where I feel like I wasted my time. Sure, I get my share of crying babies, screaming toddlers, temperamental teenagers, and challenging parents. But at the end of the day, the frustrating parts of my work are always completely washed away when I see the excited faces of first time walkers, proud parents, and supportive coworkers. The fact that my work directly contributed to these newfound skills in others makes me take pride in what I do.
- I am proud of what others do. Children are an exceptionally inspiring clientele to work with. In this setting, every milestone feels like it deserves a standing ovation. Behind every first step and every new skill, is the hard work of the parents and children I work with. Exercising IS hard. The recovery process is sometimes a slow one. With kids, no small victory goes unnoticed. I have witnessed many children’s first steps, and I was right next to their parents beaming with pride. You know that feeling when you learned to ride a bicycle for the first time without training wheels? I get to see kids and parents experiencing something like that, every day.
Being a pediatric physical therapist means I encourage children to move, to grow, and to become independent. Really, they make my job easy, because they motivate me too.