Children's Rehabilitation Services

Physical Therapy Services for Children

What Are The Benefits of Physical Therapy For Children?

Children undergoing physical therapy benefit both physically and mentally. While it helps them with their motor skills and functional mobility, physical therapy also can boost a child’s self-esteem, independence, and enhance development and physical strength. Overall, it leads to better quality living for the child.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Physical therapists who work with children use a variety of treatments that help build strength, improve movement, and strengthen skills needed to complete daily activities. They engage individually with each of their patients through:

  • Developmental activities, such as crawling and walking
  • Balance and coordination activities
  • Adaptive play
  • Aquatic (water) therapy
  • Improving circulation around injuries by using heat, cold, exercise, electrical stimulation, massage, and ultrasound
  • Training to build strength around an injury
  • Flexibility exercises to increase range of motion
  • Instruction on how to avoid injuries
  • Safety and prevention programs

Your child’s physical therapy team will develop a treatment program to meet his or her specific needs and may include one or more of these approaches.


Contact Children's Occupational Therapy Services

For additional information, appointments or to make a referral, contact us today.

What Types of Physical Therapy Are There For Children?

At any age, physical therapy can seem a challenge. For children (of all ages!) it is most beneficial when it seems like a lot of fun and games. From aquatic therapy to sports medicine, our physical therapists combine the principles of science and medicine with evidence-based treatments that may seem like a playtime to a child. Through physical therapy, children learn, receive praise, and gain the abilities to lead independent and productive lives.

Does My Child Need Physical Therapy?

The most common reason a child may need physical therapy is because of a sports or other type of injury. But other reasons a child needs physical therapy may be their inability to keep up with their peers during play, or an infant who is not reaching certain milestones. Consult your child’s physician to determine if your child could benefit from physical therapy.

Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy: What is the Difference?

Physical therapy focuses on improving the patient's ability to move their body. In physical therapy, children learn through exercise, hands-on care, and instruction.

Occupational therapy focuses on improving the patient's ability to perform activities of daily living. In occupational therapy, children learn how to improve their fine motor skills needed for daily activities such as eating, brushing teeth, and getting dressed. Occupational therapy can help build coping strategies for those with behavioral health issues.

Physical Therapy Services for Children at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Rhode Island

Expand a section below to learn about our physical therapy services at Lifespan.

Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy uses water to address issues with weight bearing sensitivity or for people who are unable to tolerate a traditional exercise program. 

Some common diagnoses seen in our pool include various orthopedic issues, such as back pain, knee pain, fractures, or pre/postoperative services; neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy or stroke; muscular dystrophy; spinal muscular atrophy and gross motor delay/coordination disorders.

Adaptive Equipment Clinic

Assistive and adaptive equipment is used to improve function and safety for our patients in their home and community settings. The team evaluates and prescribes appropriate equipment for each child and family.

Burn Care

We have certified burn specialists on our multidisciplinary team for children recovering from burn injuries. The team evaluates each child to develop a plan of therapy for functional limitations and to minimize scarring.

Concussion Management

Our Concussion Program offers therapy for individuals with concussions or post-concussion syndrome. Our licensed physical therapists have received training in concussion management. Each patient receives individualized physical therapy evaluations and treatment plans.

Treatment of dizziness, balance, gaze stabilization, and visual intolerance, as well as treatment for neck pain are often part of initial treatment sessions.

Functional Electric Stimulation for Foot Drop

Foot drop may occur from underlying conditions including cerebral palsy, stroke or brain injury. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) can be used to treat foot drop by assisting the muscles to lift the foot. It may be recommended for home use to replace an orthotic. Our physical therapists use a variety of assessments to determine if FES would be appropriate for a child, including energy expenditure during ambulation, balance assessments, timed ambulation tasks, and clinical observations.

Infants with Torticollis

Infants with torticollis are evaluated and treated with exercises to improve neck muscle length and improve neck and trunk strength. Physical and occupational therapists also screen for associated musculoskeletal conditions and can assist with evaluating and obtaining a remolding helmet to improve head shape or flat spots as a result of positioning.

Pediatric Incontinence

Pediatric pelvic floor therapy is used to address bedwetting, daytime urinary and fecal incontinence, urgency, frequency, dysuria, recurrent afebrile UTIs, and dysfunctional elimination syndrome. Following a physical therapy assessment and completion of a bladder diary, the therapist and family will develop a treatment plan that may include a combination of behavioral modifications and biofeedback.

Serial Casting: Lower Extremity

Serial casting is non-surgical procedure to improve joint range of motion, increase muscle length and improve alignment.  

Children who can benefit from serial casting include those with decreased ankle range of motion and impaired gait due to neurological or musculoskeletal conditions such as cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, or idiopathic toe walking.

Sports Medicine

Physical therapists work in conjunction with orthopedic and sports medicine physicians and surgeons to help athletes who have sustained an injury or who are recovering from surgery. We see a variety of conditions including ligamentous injuries such as ACL ruptures, overuse injuries, strains and sprains, and shin splints. Common injury areas include shoulder, lower back, hip, knee and ankle.