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Together is a new resource for anyone affected by pediatric cancer - patients and their parents, family members, and friends.

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Physical Therapy

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy is a type of care that helps people move better, recover from illness and injury, and prevent disability.

A pediatric physical therapist does assessments and physical therapy with children.

Therapy uses exercise, movement, and active play to address specific health issues. The goals are to improve strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination.

Other treatments can help physical symptoms and improve healing. These include ice, heat, manual therapy, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation.

Physical therapy can be done at the hospital, clinic, and/or home.

Physical therapist working with pediatric cancer patient

Physical therapy can help with physical fitness and function as well as recovery from cancer treatments.

Physical therapy can help with:

  • Physical fitness and function
  • Recovery from treatments
  • Problems in motor skills and development
  • Identifying developmental delays and reaching milestones
  • Movement and daily activities
  • Mobility aids (crutches, wheelchair), orthotics, and prosthetics
  • Physical symptoms like swelling (edema), pain, and circulation

Finding a physical therapist

Physical therapists are licensed health providers with a graduate degree in physical therapy (PT or DPT).

State laws or insurance may require a doctor referral for physical therapy.

Your doctor can help you find a physical therapist who works with children (pediatric physical therapist). You can also find a physical therapist through the American Physical Therapy Association.

Key Points

  • Physical therapy can help with movement, recovery from illness or injury, and preventing disability.
  • Physical therapy can be done at home, at the hospital, or at a clinic.
  • Your child’s care team can help refer you to a physical therapist, if needed.

Reviewed: August 2022