Careers in physical therapy are ideal for people who want to make a difference in the daily lives of others. Pediatric physical therapists are often in high demand, with therapists helping children to function in ways they might not know they could. Physical therapists in general provide a helping hand to improve all areas of an individual’s life, including the reduction of pain and the increase of mobility, balance, motor skills, strength and endurance. Pediatric physical therapists work to accomplish these same things, but in patients from newborns to the age of 18.
Pediatric physical therapist jobs are available in a wide range of settings. Practitioners may choose to operate their own business, or work in a hospital, neonatal intensive care unit, school or pediatrician's office. Pediatric physical therapist jobs may also require travel to patients' homes in some cases. Pediatric physical therapists may choose to focus on helping patients who have congenital, developmental or otherwise inherent problems, or those who need rehabilitation from sports- or activity-related injuries or other acquired problems, or may choose not to focus on one or the other at all.
The practice of pediatric physical therapy, commonly referred to as PT, differs greatly depending on the age demographic a therapist works with. While the basic job skills and services performed may remain the same, pediatric physical therapists who work with infants and children may focus on coordination, motor skills and sensory processing, whereas a pediatric physical therapist who works with adolescents may focus more on strength, endurance and mobility, depending on the situation. Physical therapists, no matter what age they treat or where they operate, focus entirely on improving the quality of life of their patients.
Individuals seeking pediatric physical therapist jobs are required by most locations to have a master’s degree from an accredited school or training program, as well as continuing education in the fields of pediatrics and related topics. Pediatric physical therapists must have a good rapport with children, and be able to communicate effectively with both the patients and their parents or guardians. Physical therapist jobs are typically very physically demanding, and pediatric physical therapist jobs may be more so, requiring the practitioners to bend, lean, stoop, lift patients and twist into a variety of positions, as well as keep up with young children.