Physical therapy builds on a patient’s strengths and abilities. A therapy program will focus on improving the patient’s functional or educational skills. Therapy sessions may include: initial testing to learn about the patient’s needs, regularly scheduled treatment with a physical therapist to work on mobility skills, strengthening exercises or stretching exercises, teaching your family about the patient’s therapy so practice can be done at home, home visits to see if equipment is needed to make caring for the patient easier.
The need for therapy changes for each patient over time, and services are provided to meet the individual needs of each patient. Patients are sometimes ready to acquire new skills and sometimes need the help of their family and care-givers to practice skills that are developing more slowly.
Physical therapists, families, patients, teachers and physicians work together to jointly determine goals and provide the most appropriate therapy program for each individual patient. Each of these people are essential members of the rehabilitation team; it is important to include them in the therapy program, as many therapy activities should be done at home as part of the patient’s daily routine.
A family can prepare for their initial therapy assessment by considering what it is that they would like for their child to be able to accomplish over the next six months or year and discussing with the therapist what is the expected outcome of the therapy sessions.
Therapy does not necessarily change the outcome or course of the disability; however, new therapies are constantly being developed. The goal is to help each patient be as independent as they can be and assist each family in achieving a greater understand- ing of the patient’s disability and adapting to the life changes that their unique situation may require.