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Physical Therapy

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Physical therapy helps people improve their strength, ability to move and function. The physical therapists at Seattle Children’s have the expertise and specially sized equipment needed to work with growing children, from the very smallest babies to teen athletes. We have the largest group of physical therapists in the Pacific Northwest who specialize in the care of babies, children, teens and young adults.

We help children and teens recover from temporary problems, such as sports injuries. We also work with patients who have long-lasting conditions, including those that affect gross motor skills such as walking, running and playing.  We develop a plan of care made just for your child or teen, and coordinate the care among all of the providers your child sees.

Services We Provide

Strength and flexibility training

We work with your child to improve strength in muscles that are weak due to disease, injury or lack of movement. Therapists provide resistance to movement by using their hands (manual resistance), have your child use weight machines, have them use free weights or use a combination of these tools. We also teach stretching exercises to increase range of motion. When a child's joints become very stiff due to the shortening of muscles and tendons (contracture), we offer a therapy called serial casting that uses casts to stretch muscles to help improve movement.

Gross motor development

Our physical therapists develop programs to help children improve control of the large muscles they need for activities like walking, running and playing (gross motor skills). We teach you and your child how to work through a program at home so your child can improve skills through practice and repetition.

Gait training

We use hands-on assistance as well as walkers and canes to help improve your child's ability to walk. We use supportive suspension equipment, such as the Lite Gait system and gait trainers, to take some weight off your child's joints and muscles and help with balance during therapy.

Orthotic and prosthetic training

Our physical therapists evaluate your child to determine if devices (orthotics) for the hips, legs or feet can help with positioning and movement. If so, our experts meet with you and your child to design a useful device just for your child. Our therapists also work with children with lower limb prosthetics to improve their balance and ability to walk, run and play.

Tone management

Our physical therapists are part of a team of health professionals from many specialties that evaluates children who have muscle spasticity or other muscle tone problems. We design therapy for your child with the goal of helping them move and function as well as they possibly can.

Sports physical therapy

We provide sports physical therapy for school-age children and teens at three locations, including our main campus in Seattle, our clinic in Federal Way and the new 2,500-square-foot sports gym at our Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center. Young athletes will be evaluated in action — playing ball sports, running or using a stationary bike or free weights — by experts who understand the special needs of growing bodies. In helping your child recover from a sports injury, our physical therapists have two main goals: to safely return your child to sports and to prevent future injury. Read more.

Pain management

When your child's activity is limited due to pain, our physical therapists use a variety of treatments aimed at decreasing pain and getting your child to be active again. Our programs range from daily, intense exercise sessions guided by a physical therapist to home exercise programs designed just for your child.

Neonatal and infant therapy

We evaluate and treat babies ranging in age from birth to 1 year old who are either in the hospital or patients at our clinics. We provide positioning equipment, treatment to help your child's development, feeding therapy and parent education to assist even the youngest children.

Assistive technology

Our physical therapists provide evaluations to help you make decisions when your child needs a wheelchair, adapted stroller or other positioning and mobility equipment. We work with equipment vendors and insurance companies to help you make sure your child gets the equipment they need.

Schroth physical therapy

This form of physical therapy may keep the abnormal spinal curve from getting worse in some children with scoliosis. It may have other benefits, too, such as better posture, strength, flexibility and breathing, and it may improve the results of bracing and prevent or delay surgery. Your child learns and practices exercises during visits with a physical therapist and uses these exercises daily at home. Read more. (PDF)