Physical therapists assist in early detection of health problems and use a wide variety of modalities to treat disorders in the pediatric population. They are specialized in the diagnosis, treatment and management of infants, children and adolescents with a variety of congenital, developmental, neuromuscular, skeletal, or acquired disorders/diseases. Treatments focus on improving gross and fine motor skills, balance and coordination, strength and endurance, as well as cognitive and sensory processing/integration.
The minimum education required for Physical Therapists is a masters level degree with most programs transitioning to a doctoral program. The curriculum consists of, but is not limited to, the following courses: Gross Anatomy, Neuroanatmoy, Musculoskeltal Analysis and Treatment, Pharmacology, Development Across the Lifespan, Modalities, Wound Care, Orthopedics, Orthotics and Prosthetics, and Neurodevelopmental Therories and Treatment Across the Lifespan. Physical therapists are required to complete a series of rotations that encompass all the specialties in their field. This provides a global understanding of medical conditions and other health related issues that limit function and ability in individuals of all ages. Pediatric physical therapists specialize in working with children from birth to age 21. Pediatric P.T.'s take additional specialized course work (classes) that focus on pediatric diagnoses and treatment, along with a pediatric rotation prior to graduation. Following graduation from a masters or doctoral program, physical therapists are required to take a state licensing exam prior to practicing in their related field.
Physical Therapists can help with the following diagnoses:
Incoordination and balance
Hypotonia (Developmental Delays)
Musculoskeletal Injuries (back/neck pain, muscle strains, ligamentous sprains)
Brachial Plexus Injuries
Genetic or Metabolic Disorders
Foot dysfunctions (pronation/supination)
Adaptive Equipment Assessments
Occupational therapists are trained to assist children in developing the skills necessary to become functional. These skills include regulation of arousal level in order to attend, refinement of sensory discrimination and processing, continual refinement and development of motor skills, development of communication skills, appropriate social interactions, language and cognitive skills, age appropriate self-care skills, and self-concept.
The American Occupational Therapy Association defines occupational therapy as, "a skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence in all facets of life." Occupational therapy is considered an allied health profession. Coursework includes, but is not limited to: Gross Anatomy, Neuroanatomy, and training in Biological, Physical, Medical, and Behavioral sciences. Occupational therapists complete fieldwork that allows them to work hands on with a variety of diagnoses and specialties prior to graduating. O.T.'s specialize in areas of clinical work that include pediatrics, geriatrics, mental health, and orthopedics. Pediatric O.T.'s work specifically with children from birth to age 21 in various settings. O.T.'s are required to take a state licensing exam prior to practicing in their related field.
Occupational Therapists can evaluate and treat the following areas:
Sensory Processing Disorders
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Dyspraxia and motor incoordination
Low muscle tone and weakness
Attention Deficit Disorder / ADHD
Fine motor and visual motor delays
Oral motor delays
A master’s degree in speech-language pathology is required and speech therapists need state licensure and professional credentialing from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in order to practice. Speech therapists develop an individual plan of care tailored to each client’s needs. A variety of skilled techniques are used to improve expressive and receptive language. They also teach individuals how to strengthen oral musculature for both speech and swallowing. Speech course work includes anatomy, physiology, the development of areas of the body involved in speech, language and swallowing and the nature of disorders. Pediatric SLP’s take additional specialized course work that focuses on pediatric diagnoses and treatment, along with a pediatric rotation prior to graduation. Continuing education is required as part of both state and national licensure.
Speech Therapists can help with the following diagnoses:
Cleft palate/ Craniofacial disorders
Dysphagia – feeding disorders
Childhood apraxia of speech
Augumentative speech or communication systems
In North Carolina, by law, the term "nutritionist" may only be used if someone has met the requirements set forth by the State of North Carolina and is Licensed by the State of North Carolina.