As discussed in a prior blog post, there are several different populations physical therapists could work with. The following post will discuss in-depth the advantages to working in an early-childhood intervention setting. This blog post would be ideal for undergraduate and graduate students pursing physical therapy, and wants to know more detail on a possible field.
Getting the opportunity to work with children with disabilities in an early-childhood intervention setting is a rewarding option many physical therapists choose to pursue as a career. This unique setting is perfect for young-spirited professionals, especially those with a lot of energy and patience. Oftentimes, therapy with young children involve playing games and modified sports, such as running obstacle courses or playing adapted baseball. Rather than being in a clinic all day, physical therapists who work with children with disabilities often spend their days in a gymnasium, or outside. While energy is crucial, so is patience. The types of disabilities seen in an early-childhood intervention setting could range from severe ADHD to progressive muscular dystrophy. Many patients may have a loss in functional use of their limbs, and several patients will require braces or wheelchairs. The therapist will have to be patient in modifying the games and explaining the exercises to the children, which is important because it is vital that the children receive their therapy. For University of Maryland students interested in this field, there is a clinic held on Saturday mornings that allows students to volunteer with certified professionals. This link has all of the information as well as a video which displays the field of early-childhood intervention therapy:
The initial certification needed for working with children with disabilities is the same for all practicing physical therapists, a doctorate of physical therapy (DPT), however having a background in the field would help applicants get their desired job. This could include volunteering at a location that cares for children with disabilities, or observing other physical therapists as they work with children with disabilities. Furthermore, getting a BACB Certification (Behavioral Analyst Certification Board) may be a smart choice.
Professionals with a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) often work with children with disabilities to encourage desired behaviors, and eliminate undesirable behaviors. Having a dual certification in DPT and BCBA is common in the field, could improve applicants’ resume, as well as allow new techniques to be brought into the workplace.
Practically, this particular field is very appealing as it allows the professional to maintain a flexible schedule. For instance, most physical therapists specialized in children with disabilities work at a school or day care center, which allows physical therapists who are parents to be on the same routine as their children. Moreover, while physical therapy in general is a lucrative and stable career choice, specialists in pediatrics are some of the highest paid physical therapists .
For any aspiring physical therapists who loves staying active and working with children, try exploring early-childhood intervention therapy to see if it is the right fit.