infant physical therapy

Physical Therapy For Infants

If you have ever thrown out your back helping a friend move or torn your meniscus playing basketball at the gym, chances are you attended physical therapy somewhere on your road to recovery. So when your Pediatrician recommends that your 7 month old attend physical therapy to help with head control, you may ask yourself, “What is physical therapy for infants?”

Physical Therapy for Infants:

First off, your right to assume that physical therapy for infants is going to look at lot different than the physical therapyinfant physical therapy you received after knee surgery. While all physical therapist must attend accredited Masters and Doctorate of Physical Therapy programs, the areas you can specialize vary greatly, from an outpatient center where people go after surgeries and sport injuries, to a burn unit where physical therapist are helping patients maximize range of motion. A physical therapist who specializes in pediatrics has learned how to achieve similar strength gains, increase range of motion, and functional improvements, with children.

One of the main differences between physical therapy for infants and physical therapy for adults is the idea of parent education. In order to maximize gains, exercises must done multiple times every day. Since it is not feasible for a physical therapist to perform all of these repetitions, they must act as educators to the caregivers, teaching handling techniques and updating exercises as the child progresses. Much of each physical therapy session is spent on updating and educating this home exercise plan.

Now we come to the next major difference between infant and adult physical therapy: exercises. How can an infant exercise?? Are there baby weights they should be using?? Most of the exercises an infant does are going to be greatly different than the ones you or I would perform. Because they are growing everyday, most functional movements are in fact a form of exercise for them, allowing their muscles to get stronger and building the foundation for all gross motor skills. Each home exercise is tailored to the child’s specific needs and growth over time. So depending on what your child was referred to physical therapy for their home exercises could include play time while laying on a specific side, learning to transition into or out of sitting, or stretches while having them turn to the left.

While the differences between infant physical therapy and adult physical therapy are many, the foundations remain the same. The physical therapist is looking for physical deficits in strength, range of motion, balance, etc, that are negatively impacting a person’s performance in a specific activity, whether that be jumping and walking up stairs, or crawling and holding their head up.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Incorporating Balance into Your Child’s Before-School Routine

boy balancing on floorBalance, like many things, will only get better with practice and through challenging the balance systems. However, it can be hard to find time after school to work on balance activities when kids already have mountains of homework to keep up with. It can also be difficult to make balance exercises fun and enjoyable for kids.

In order to work on balance skills while saving time and keeping it interesting, here is a list of 5 balance activities that can easily be incorporated into your child’s before-school routine:

  1. Put pants, shoes, and socks on while standing up-This will require your child to stand on one leg while using her arms to don the clothing.
  2. Sit in ‘tall kneeling’ (sitting on knees with hips straight and knees kept at a 90 degree angle) while packing up the backpack-Sitting in the tall kneeling position narrows your child’s base of support, making it harder for her to maintain her balance. This posture also helps to strengthen her hip muscles, which are an important part of keeping her stable in positions that are challenging for her balance.
  3. Sit on a pillow while having breakfast-The pillow serves as an unstable surface, so your child will have to work hard to balance while sitting on it. This is a great way to work on core strength as well.
  4. Walk heel-to-toe on the way to the bus stop-Narrowing the base of support by walking heel to toe will challenge your child’s balance  and help improve her balance when she performs dynamic movements such as running or walking.
  5. Brush teeth with eyes closed-Vision is a big component of balancing, and when you close your eyes you are no longer able to rely on that sense to balance. Your body instead will have to use its vestibular and proprioceptive systems to keep steady.

It is going to be important to supervise your child when beginning these balance activities, as they may be hard at first. If you have significant concerns about your child’s balance with daily activities or if you have balance-related safety concerns, you can contact an occupational or physical therapist at North Shore Pediatric Therapy. To find out more about the vestibular system read our blog To find out more about the proprioceptive system read our blog

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How To Teach Your Child Pre-Writing Skills | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric occupational therapist explains strategies she uses to teach pre-writing skills.

Click here to check out our previous Webisode, suggesting games for fine motor practice to develop handwriting skills.

In this video you will learn:

  • How an occupational therapist uses shapes to teach a child beginning to advanced handwriting
  • At what age a child should master all shapes for writing

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics, to a worldwide audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn Ackerman. I’m standing here with Lindsay Miller, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist. Lindsay, can you explain to us, what are some exercises you can do with a child to help with pre-writing skills?

Lindsay: Sure. With some children who are too young to begin writing their letters, we work on practicing making particular shapes. These shapes include horizontal lines, vertical lines, circles, diagonal lines, crosses, Xs, squares, and triangles. So with younger kids, we would probably start off working with the simpler shapes, such as the horizontal and vertical lines, and also the circles.

Once they’ve mastered those, then we would move on to the more complex shapes, like the diagonal lines, the crosses, the Xs, the squares, and the triangles. We work on these shapes in particular, because these are the shapes that you generally use when you’re writing. So if children learn how to write their horizontal and vertical lines and their circles, then it helps them once they’ve begin to start writing their letters, because these are the shapes that we use for upper and lowercase letters. So generally, by age five a child should be able to make all of these shapes.

Robyn: Wow. That’s really great tips. Thank you so much, and thank you to our viewers. Remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at That’s