5 Big Benefits of a Pediatric Physical Therapist

We say it all the time; children aren’t just little adults. And whether the cause is playing their favorite sport, or simply playing outside with friends, their bones, muscles and joints require special, personalized care when they suffer an injury.

It might be more convenient, even less expensive, to take your child to a general physical therapist or sports medicine practitioner when they get hurt. But this may not be beneficial to them in the long run, adding up to more dollars spent and a longer recovery time for your child. Where you take your child matters, because the treatment their growing bones get today impacts their future. 

So where should you take your child? Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta offers a few reasons why you should opt for a specialized pediatric sports medicine physical therapist to help your child get back to being a kid quickly and safely.

1. A child’s bones, muscles and joints require special care

A child’s growth plates – the areas at the end of the long bones in the arms and legs responsible for making new bone tissue – are still open. If a child or teenager injures these growth plates, and is not diagnosed or treated properly, it can lead to damage that may leave them permanently sidelined from their favorite activities. Pediatric physical therapists are trained to recognize, identify and treat these types of injuries specifically.

And while general PTs can treat pediatric patients, they may make up only 5-10% of their practice. Pediatric PTs on the other hand, are kid experts, treating children and teenagers 100 percent of the time.

2. Pediatric physical therapists cater rehabilitation specifically to your kids

Kids and teens need to be stimulated and engaged in their physical therapy to reap the biggest benefits and recover quickly. If they aren’t challenged and entertained, they become disengaged – potentially prolonging their recovery time.

Pediatric PTs can translate your child’s therapeutic goals into exercises that seem more like play than therapy, making rehabilitation fun – which can translate into better compliance and faster recovery. 

3. Kid-centered care may translate into fewer visits and lower risk of re-injury

It's true that some sports medicine programs are hospital-based, which can translate into more up-front costs. However, that cost is providing you with pediatric physical therapists and sports medicine specialists that are experts in treating kids. This means that in most cases, your child will get back to feeling better and playing their favorite sports more quickly, with fewer visits than with general physical therapy. Pediatric rehabilitation programs are high-quality and also uniquely catered to a child’s specific needs. This means less long-term costs for your family.

More importantly though, it means your child can get well more quickly. And with our specialized level of care and attention, we can also help them stay that way.


When a child suffers an acute injury, they may start to feel better quickly after getting hurt, going right back to full steam ahead even if their body hasn’t completely healed. Pediatric physical therapists understand this, and know how to help your child or teen properly progress through therapy and healing, safely guiding them back to their former level of activity and minimizing their risk for re-injury.

4. Pediatric physical therapists offer higher levels of more specialized attention

Pediatric PTs understand that kids and teens need individualized attention. It's not just about assigning physical therapy exercises. It’s about providing that child everything she needs to get the biggest benefits from her physical therapy – from hands-on cuing, to technique and exercise supervision.

A pediatric PT also wants to know about your child specifically. Does she play a sport? How often? What position? The answers to these questions help a pediatric PT cater your child’s rehabilitation program specifically to her body’s needs.

It is not just about treating a diagnosis; it is about the long-term prevention of future injuries for your favorite athlete as they continue to grow.

5. Passion, atmosphere and experience

Pediatric physical therapists do more than simply diagnose and treat an injury. They have a passion for kids, and will bring that passion into the work they do to get your child back to being a kid. Many pediatric physical therapists were child-athletes themselves, and come to your family with a unique understanding of what your young child or teenager may be going through.

Many kids who see pediatric physical therapists feel understood and heard during their treatment, rather than being treated as simply another patient. It’s a mutual understanding that fosters mutual respect, and that translates into more effective therapy.

Pediatric physical therapy is also provided in a fun, kid-friendly atmosphere that makes kids and teens feel more at ease during their treatment. It’s warm, welcoming and provides age-appropriate challenges, creating a safe space for your child to get better.

Where you take your child matters. Bringing your child to a Children’s physical therapist also means that you’re working with a team of highly-qualified, skilled and experienced pediatric sports medicine experts, each one dedicated to providing their expertise, training and knowledge to get your kids back to doing the things they love most.

If you think your child needs sports physical therapy, talk to your pediatrician contact us at 404-785-KIDS (5437)Learn more about sports physical therapy at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

This content has been clinically reviewed by Jill Reyes, PT, DPT, SCS and Julie Johnson, PT, MPT, SCS, CSCS.

This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.