Choosing a Physical Therapist

Children with hemiparesis or hemiplegia often receive physical therapy. Physical therapy does not “cure” the cause of the hemiplegia, but it can help your child become as functional as possible and attain the best possible quality of life. Physical therapy in children is usually conducted by a pediatric physical therapist. These therapists usually work in children’s hospitals, private clinics, early intervention programs, and schools. Your child’s doctor may refer you to a specific physical therapist or may give you a prescription and suggest that you find your own therapist.  Questions you  may want to ask a potential physical therapist are:

  • Are you a licensed pediatric physical therapist?
  • How many years have you worked with infants or children?
  • How many children have you seen who have my child’s diagnosis?
  • Have you taken any specialized courses that will help you work with my child?
  • Do you primarily work with children who are recovering from orthopedic issues or do you work with children who have neurological issues?
  • Have you been designated as a Neurologic Clinical Specialist (NCS)?  These physical therapists have been awarded the designation NCS because they have met the requirements and passed a specialty examination of the American Board of Physical Therapist Specialists.

We suggest that you observe the therapist working with your child. Observing therapy will help you follow through with therapeutic exercises at home. For the most part, physical therapy should be fun and enjoyable for the child. A talented physical therapist will be able to connect with your child after a few sessions and find ways to engage your child in the therapy. Sometimes the therapist and child just aren’t a good fit. If this is the case, it’s okay to discuss this with the therapist and try to find ways to make the therapy work. If your therapist and child have both given the therapy a fair shot and it’s still not working, don’t hesitate to ask for a different therapist. A therapist with a different style or approach may be just what your child needs to move forward with physical therapy.