As a parent, you want the best for your child. Children are amazingly resilient, and your hopes are to see them grow and flourish into independence.
Sometimes life can throw your child a curveball, especially when it’s related to an acute injury, long-term illness, or disability, and they may need a little help.
When that happens, you’ll do whatever is necessary to ensure they receive the care they need. There’s a specialty of medicine, pediatric rehabilitation, that focuses on supporting the growth and well-being of children experiencing an injury or developmental delays.
What is Pediatric Rehabilitation?
Pediatric rehabilitation provides a comprehensive interdisciplinary team approach to prevent, diagnose, and treat congenital and childhood onset disabilities for children from birth to age 21.
Pediatric rehabilitation providers are specialists trained to deliver a variety of services, including occupational, physical, and speech therapy, for those with diagnoses including, but not limited to, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, coordination disorders, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, developmental delay, gross motor delays, apraxia, rare genetic disorders, and orthopaedic disorders.
The goal is to improve physical, psychosocial, and vocational limitations by identifying a patients’ abilities and utilizing interventional strategies. These strategies include but are not limited to medications, injections, equipment, orthotics, and therapies to maximize their function and promote physical healing and emotional well-being and improve quality of life.
Is Pediatric Rehabilitation Right for Your Child?
As a parent or caregiver, you have an active role to play ensuring your child receives care. Whether your child has suffered a brain, musculoskeletal, or spine injury, a congenital condition, or something else entirely, rehabilitation may be able to help them overcome hurdles and live their lives to the fullest.
Your child may benefit from rehab if they are struggling with:
- Meeting developmental milestones
- Communication delays
- Difficulty with handwriting or other school-based activities
- Difficulty keeping up with peers
- Emotional regulation
- Sensory integration dysfunction
- Recovering from sports or non-sports related injury
Pediatric rehabilitation comes with its own unique set of needs and requirements so it’s important that parents/caregivers partner with their child’s team of specialists as well as their child’s pediatrician or primary care provider (PCP) in their journey.
A Parent/Caregiver’s Role
Parents/caregivers are often incorporated into therapy sessions as your presence can help tremendously. Therapy may be a scary time for a child as they’re surrounded by new faces, in an unfamiliar location, and may be using equipment that can look intimidating.
In addition to your calming presence and the trust your child places in you, you’re a member of your child’s rehabilitation team and you play an integral role in keeping your child’s recovery plan in action at home. Your child’s care team will work closely with you, providing practical advice and training along the way that can improve your child’s progress during and after their time in therapy.
If you have questions about your child’scondition, talk to your child’s pediatrician or PCP. Depending on your child’s needs, your doctor may refer them to a pediatric rehabilitation program where your child will receive further evaluation of their skills based on their current function, age, and your concerns and goals. Based on the evaluation, your child’s therapist will make recommendations and develop a custom plan to ease the physical, developmental, and cognitive effects of their condition helping them live life to their fullest.
Denise Lorson, PT, is with UPMC Pediatric Rehabilitation Services and sees patients at 625 W. Edwin St., Williamsport. To schedule an appointment with Denise, call 570-326-0565. To learn more information about rehabilitation services, visit UPMC.com/RehabNCPA.