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young girl lying on an exam table during a physical therapy appointment

Pediatric Physical Therapy


TRIA Physical Therapy is dedicated to helping patient of all ages. Including children who are looking to get back into a sport or activity after an injury. Ann Doda, PT, DPT,  part of the TRIA Kids Pediatric Orthopaedic Program talks about pediatric physical therapy at TRIA.

At what age can a child begin physical therapy?

At TRIA Orthopaedic Center Physical Therapy Clinic, we focus primarily on orthopaedic injuries. Typically the youngest patient we would see is around five years of age. If a child needs more extensive physical therapy for a neuromuscular or developmental condition, a traditional pediatric physical clinic would be more appropriate.

What age range is considered a patient considered a pediatric patient?

A pediatric age range is hard to pinpoint. We base our treatments on the individual’s needs. Some children may like a more traditional therapy program with exercises and others may need more of a play or game based approach to ensure compliance with home exercises.

How does one know if their child needs physical therapy?

Typically, parents take their child to their pediatrician or one of our providers at TRIA for an initial assessment and then are referred to physical therapy from there.  Children and adults can see a physical therapist without a physician referral in the state of MN.

Although at young ages, imaging maybe appropriate to determine any issues at growth plates or other pediatric conditions need to be ruled out before beginning an intensive therapy program.

Do TRIA physical therapists have special training in pediatrics?

TRIA physical therapists’ primary focus is the treatment of patients of all ages with sports and orthopaedic injuries. Nearly half of our staff have received advanced training and earned board-certified specialization in either sports medicine or orthopaedics. Our therapists do not specialize in treating neuromuscular or developmental pediatric conditions, but do specialize in treating children with sports and orthopaedic injuries. Patients who are trying to return to a specific sport or activity would do well here. For example, our outstanding Return to Throwing Program could help a little league thrower with shoulder pain.

What common conditions would require a child to have physical therapy?

With the pediatric population we see similar diagnoses to adults, in addition to overuse injuries from sport specialization at an early age and growth plate injuries; of which you may not see with a general orthopaedic population.

How do physical therapy appointments different between adults and children?

Physical therapy appointments are based on the individual’s needs and presentation. A pediatric appointment can vary depending on the patients’ maturity level and style of learning. Sometimes a session can resemble an adult session. However, a majority of our elementary school aged patients respond well to an approach that involves games, tasks, and imagination.

What can a child expect during a physical therapy appointment?

Assessment of function and a collaborative discussion of the goals the patient/child and parent hope to achieve through physical therapy services can be expected during the initial visit. We will try to incorporate fun and sport specific activities into each session. There will be some physical therapy homework sent home; that is most successfully completed with parental guidance and supervision. A visual exercise chart can be a valuable reminder for children to regularly complete their home program.

How does a child benefit from physical therapy?

In general, children should not have much orthopaedic pain. They are young, active, and very resilient. We hope to guide kids and parents in the proper approach to their injury and their recovery from an orthopaedic standpoint. We hope to get them back to their sports, activities, and daily routine as soon as possible.

Will the child’s pediatrician be involved with their physical therapy appointments?

TRIA physical therapists able to work closely with referring providers within the TRIA, Park Nicollet, and Health Partners system through our electronic medical record and other forms of communication. We will also get in touch with providers outside of our health system if any concerns arise. 

What else is important for parents or patients to know about pediatric physical therapy at TRIA?

Pediatric orthopaedic appointments are most successful as a team approach. The child, parents and physical therapist can work as a team to provide the best outcomes in clinic and at home. Our physical therapy department is available for any questions regarding referrals to physical therapy and can assist in finding another pediatric clinic should feel we are not be the appropriate clinic for your child’s health needs.

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