Should Your Child See a Pediatric Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician?

When I tell people that I am a pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physician, they usually ask what I do and how it differs from a regular pediatrician.

Simply put, PM&R physicians see patients who have difficulties with their function that keep them from being as independent as they would like. We are trained to maximize what patients can do and help them adapt to overcome what they cannot. Although we can assist with diagnosing the cause of these functional difficulties, pediatric PM&R physicians really focus on how these difficulties affect your child’s, and your family’s, everyday life. We then direct treatment that focuses on improving independence and quality of life.

Like pediatricians, we work in inpatient and outpatient settings to help children who are living with and recovering from a wide variety of conditions, including:

If your child has a chronic illness, disability or injury that limits his or her function in some way, a pediatric PM&R physician can help. Some examples of things that we can do include:

Evaluate your child’s movement or activity

A PM&R physician can determine if your child is moving appropriately and meeting developmental milestones. As a parent, you may feel that your child does things differently than other children his or her age. In these situations, a pediatric PM&R physician can provide early reassurance or guide an appropriate evaluation and treatment plan.  

Guide therapeutic interventions

A pediatric PM&R physician can determine when and how your child would benefit from therapeutic interventions to improve movement and function. Interventions may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, feeding therapy, recreational therapy and/or speech therapy. Many times the multiple needs of a child will be best addressed by a number of these different therapists, and a comprehensive therapeutic approach will be coordinated by the PM&R physician.

Help with recommendations for equipment and orthotics

A pediatric PM&R physician can recommend equipment to foster your child’s independence. For instance, orthotics can improve range of motion and use of extremities, while equipment like wheelchairs, standers, gait trainers, etc., can help improve mobility. We also work closely with your child’s school to ensure that appropriate educational equipment is selected.

Select medication to make your child more comfortable

If your child experiences chronic pain and/or muscle spasticity with his or her condition, a PM&R physician can help by choosing medications that reduce pain and muscle tightness and improve quality of life. 

Help to determine if your child will benefit from surgery

With our unique perspective on function, pediatric PM&R physicians, working together with the rest of your medical team, can help to determine if a surgery will benefit your child. We can help families and surgeons decide which surgery to do and when and we can help you understand what effect each surgery might have on your child’s short and long-term function.

For more information on pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation or to schedule an appointment with a pediatric PM&R physician at Good Shepherd, call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422) or contact us online.

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