Pediatric physical therapy derives many principles from general physical therapy, but the unique characteristics of children (including children of all ages, from infancy through childhood and adolescence) require a distinct philosophy and science to guide practice. Three key beliefs distinguish pediatric physical therapy from general physical therapy and guide its philosophy: (1) there is greater need for a holistic approach that encompasses the total child, the family, and the natural settings where children live, learn, and play; (2) children's developmental changes require therapists to have knowledge of developmental science and ability to anticipate future changes; and (3) the child and family may need advocates for confronting medical and educational systems. Pediatric physical therapy practice is based on developmental science, pediatric medical pathology, and developmental risk assessment and management. Pediatric physical therapy techniques differ from adult therapeutic interventions quantitatively and qualitatively. The unique and changing needs of children mandate a distinct philosophy, knowledge of developmental science, and specialized techniques in the provision of physical therapy to children.
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