12 Effective Pediatric Physical Therapy Exercises

Playing tag with friends, jumping rope on the playground, playing dodgeball in gym class — these are the joys of childhood that most kids take for for granted. But for little ones who have been sidelined by injury, illness, or a medical condition, many of these activities are out of reach. As a pediatric physical therapist, your work is essential in helping children with reduced physical abilities to reach their highest potential, allowing them to get back to the business of childhood to the fullest extent possible. 

You are a master of disguise, cloaking an array of pediatric physical therapy exercises in the guise of engaging, play-filled activities. Kids are much more likely to actively participate if they’re having a good time. In this post, we share some of our favorite ideas for exciting pediatric physical therapy exercises designed to improve core strength, develop gross motor skills, and increase mobility. 

Pediatric Core Strengthening Exercises

If a child’s muscles surrounding the abdomen, back, and pelvis are weak, everyday activities like playing on the playground, sitting at a desk at school, and getting onto and off of the floor are challenging. Here are some of our favorites courtesy of OT Mom Learning Activities and Pink Oatmeal. These core strengthening exercises are a blast for little ones to do! 

Gross Motor Skills Exercises

Jumping rope, riding a bike without training wheels, running, and kicking all require strong gross motor skills. Gross motor skills exercises are designed to develop the large muscles of the body that facilitate the everyday movement most of us take for granted. Some of our top pediatric physical therapy activities in this area come from the NAPA Center and Little Steps.

Mobility Exercises

For kids suffering from cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and other medical conditions, a lack of mobility is one of the most common symptoms. Poor mobility often stems from muscle weakness. With pediatric physical therapy activities that feature game-like components, you can target mobility issues in a way that’s lots of fun. Hat tip to Flint Rehab and Adaptive Yoga For Multiple Sclerosis for these ideas.

Want more ideas? Check out these 33 pediatric therapy social media accounts!

Kids Won’t Complain About Fun Pediatric Therapy Exercises 

The secret sauce for successful pediatric physical therapy is to make a game of it. Physically challenging fun is a whole lot more likely to gain traction with your pint-sized clients than sets of standard PT exercises. As kids laugh and smile through these exercises, they’re building up weak muscles and improving coordination. Using fun, you’re able to help kids grow stronger and gain more mobility, providing greater access to childhood experiences that were previously out of reach. 

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