Does Your Child Need A Physical Therapist Or An Occupational Therapist?

Does Your Child Need A Physical Therapist Or An Occupational Therapist? | Little Feet Pediatric Occupational Therapy Pediatric Speech Therapy Clinic Washington DC, Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, St Louis MO

Is your child behind with their expected fine or gross motor skills development?

Or have they been diagnosed with a condition or disability that makes everyday tasks, such as getting dressed or brushing their teeth, more complex?

In cases such as these, a pediatric physical or occupational therapist can provide treatment and support for both you and your child.

But which one should you choose?

Well, it depends.

At Little Feet Therapy, we have both specialties available at any one of our pediatric therapy clinics.

We can help determine whether your child may benefit from physical therapy, occupational therapy, or both.

Both our pediatric physical therapists and pediatric occupational therapists are happy to help your child with their special needs.

But first, it’s important to fully understand the difference between the two.

Let’s take a closer look.

What Is A Pediatric Physical Therapist?

A pediatric physical therapist has a special interest in the gross motor skills of children with developmental delays, injuries, or certain medical diagnoses that impact their functional ability to interact within their environment.

It’s often referred to as a “conservative care” option in that it provides alternatives to traditional medications, bracing or casting, and surgeries.

Techniques include:

The focus of pediatric physical therapy is to help your child move more efficiently and effectively and as painlessly as possible.

As such, treatment often focuses on helping your child develop their gross motor skills.

This includes things like crawling, walking, running, jumping, and other larger movements.

There are a wide variety of conditions pediatric physical therapists can help with, including:

A physical therapist can work with your child to develop their gross motor skills and keep up with their physical therapy milestones.

What Is A Pediatric Occupational Therapist

Like physical therapists, pediatric occupational therapists work with children with developmental delays, injuries, or certain medical diagnoses that impair their ability to keep up with their peers.

However, their focus is improving the child’s ability to perform their occupation.

Now, at first, that might sound odd.

You might think that children don’t work, so they don’t have an occupation.

However, a child’s occupation is to play, attend school, and depending on their age, feed themselves, dress themselves, keep themselves clean, make their bed, etc.

They can work with both you and your child to increase their ability to perform a variety of everyday activities.

As a result, occupational therapists focus more on fine motor skills, which includes things like crossing their midline and the skills needed to learn how to write.

They can also help you and your child make adaptations to tasks to make them more manageable for your lifestyle.

This can include physical adaptations, such as splints, or more task oriented ones like developing a visual schedule.

Additionally, occupational therapist can assist with sensory integration to help your child if they have sensory processing disorder.

There are a number of different conditions occupational therapists can help with as well, including:

In these instances, therapy focuses on how to help your child perform everyday tasks effectively while keeping in mind their limitations.

What Are The Similarities Between Physical And Occupational Therapy? | Little Feet Pediatric Occupational Therapy Pediatric Speech Therapy Clinic Washington DC, Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, St Louis MO

What Are The Similarities Between Physical And Occupational Therapy?

As you’ve probably already guessed, pediatric physical and occupational therapy share a fair bit of similarities.

You may notice quite a bit of overlap with the list of conditions treated for both therapeutic approaches.

In some cases, your child may need both, while in others they may need only one.

Both can play important roles in your child’s pediatric therapy team.

Below are just a few of their similarities:

  • They both provide evaluations, progress notes, and discharges to children with illnesses or disabilities
  • They often treat children with the same conditions
  • They both provide hands on therapy that’s specific to your child’s needs
  • They both use stretches and exercises as treatment tools
  • They both set therapy goals and frequently assess your child’s progress

What Are The Differences?

Nonetheless, there’s also many key differences.

For instance, physical therapists are primarily focused on helping your child improve the function of their body and muscles whereas occupational therapists help your child perform specific tasks.

They also have different goals.

The main goals of pediatric physical therapy include:

  • Increasing your child’s movement, strength, balance, coordination, and range of motion
  • Pain management
  • Monitoring your child’s condition and making sure it doesn’t worsen
  • Teaching you and your child ways to improve fitness and functionality

Conversely, the main goals of pediatric occupational therapy include:

  • Increasing your child’s ability to perform everyday tasks, such as brushing their teeth or getting dressed
  • Improving their ability to perform in school tasks, such as handwriting and attention
  • Encouraging independence
  • Teaching you and your child’s caregivers how to provide support

Can My Child Do Physical Therapy And Occupational Therapy At The Same Time?

It depends on the condition and your child’s specific needs.

In many cases, children can receive physical and occupational therapy simultaneously.

At Little Feet Therapy, our physical and occupational therapists can work together to create goals for your child and work towards them.

However, there are cases where your child might not require both pediatric physical and occupational therapy.

Occupational Therapy Vs. Physical Therapy – Which Is Best For Your Child?

If your child doesn’t need both physical and occupational therapy, you might be wondering which to choose.

In truth, it depends on your child’s specific condition and needs.

If your child has a condition that affects their ability to walk, jump, run, or move without pain, a physical therapist would be a good fit.

Conditions frequently seen by physical therapists include:

  • Children looking to improve mobility from rolling as an infant to jumping as a toddler, and to skipping as a preschooler
  • Post operative care
  • Joint conditions, such as Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis
  • Neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy
  • Lung conditions, such as cystic fibrosis
  • Heart conditions, such as congenital heart defects
  • Childhood cancer
  • Chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome
  • Torticollis and plagiocephaly

If your child is struggling to perform daily tasks, such as getting dressed or participating fully in school, a pediatric occupational therapist can help.

Conditions frequently seen by occupational therapists include:

  • Children with fine motor delays resulting in difficulty with handwriting or buttoning their clothes
  • Neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy
  • Joint conditions, such as Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome or juvenile arthritis
  • Developmental conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and learning disabilities

Book Your Appointment With Little Feet Pediatric Therapy Today

Are you still feeling unsure about whether your child would benefit from pediatric physical or occupational therapy?

Or are you looking to book your first appointment?

At Little Feet Therapy, our physical and occupational therapists have experience working with children of all types and abilities.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to hear more.

Book your appointment with Little Feet Therapy today to find out how we can improve your child’s quality of life.

Little Feet Therapy
3535 Randolph Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211
1331 H St NW Ste 200, Washington, DC 20005
St. Louis, MO
Raleigh, NC

Founded in 2019, Little Feet Therapy offers on site pediatric physical and occupational therapy treatments for children from 2 months to 18 years old with physical and developmental concerns. Our clinics focus on providing therapy in a child’s natural setting where your child is in familiar surroundings, it puts their mind at ease and helps them focus more on the work they’re doing with their pediatric therapist. Our therapists will work with your child at your home, at school, at daycare, or another place in the community where they feel most comfortable.