An effective, dedicated, and passionate pediatric physical therapist is a rare find. After all, there are only just over 4350 of us representing this profession in the US (Zippia, 2022). We should be proud of our commitment to the habilitation and rehabilitation of young individuals and our distinct knowledge, skills, and abilities that set us apart from other specialties. Whether we work in home care, the hospital, outpatient clinic or school setting, we all strive to help kids function to their fullest potential, advocate for families, and promote health and wellness all while we pledge to continue to learn and grow even faster than our own patients!
What does it take to learn the ropes of this specialty area? How do we continue to thrive and develop professionally without suffering from burnout? Most of us become bored before our patients get tired of the same games, toys, and tricks. Pediatric physical therapists must not only continue to follow the evidence and provide intervention supported by research, but also need to be creative, fun, and energetic. We are a unique breed of individuals who demonstrate patience, resilience, and adaptability. Working with children presents a number of unique rewards and challenges. Kids are not simply miniature adults: they are dynamic and vulnerable, and their growth and changing needs must be facilitated and supported. Having an in-depth understanding of typical and atypical development, and navigating obstacles related to behavior, communication, and parenting styles can make all the difference in the world when treating children and maintaining a focus on participation and family-centered care. As devoted healthcare providers, pediatric physical therapists are continuously seeking cost-effective and constructive ways to build upon our evaluation, assessment, and intervention tools. We avoid stagnation and are always seeking new knowledge to continue evolving our practice.
We decided to ask our APTA Pediatrics SIG friends and colleagues about their favorite resources. What has helped to enhance their knowledge and skills as clinicians? How do they stay current as pediatric physical therapists? As our little people would say, “Sharing is caring!” We hope these recommendations add to your therapy toolbox, and make you even more excited to further develop your skill set as a pediatric PT!
What are YOUR favorite resources for pediatric physical therapy practice?
Pediatric physical therapy blogs are a great way to stay current with industry news and learn practical tips from clinicians around the world. Therapists report feeling inspired, and gaining insight and wisdom while spending only a minimal amount of time on a quick read. Here are some recommendations:
Podcasts provide an entertaining alternative to visual media. They are easy to access and on-demand, allowing therapists to listen on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Podcasts are a great way to learn engaging content while driving or relaxing. A short list of recommended podcasts for pediatric physical therapists:
- Pediatric Physical Therapy - Pediatric Physical Therapy Podcast: from the Journal of Pediatric Physical Therapy:
- Pushing Pediatrics: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiGmfDQlev8AhWRjIkEHRe_BVIQFnoECAwQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fpodcasts.apple.com%2Fus%2Fpodcast%2Fpushing-pediatrics%2Fid1584118933&usg=AOvVaw2pq1QH9EGp2CuNTe0GO-Su (This is an educational podcast for pediatric physical therapists: created to help those studying for the pediatric certified specialist exam (PCS), and anyone else interested in learning more about pediatric physical therapy.
- The Working Therapist: Providing Helpful Ideas for Pediatric Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy. (Podcast episodes include topics such as “Co-Treats and Collaboration: Strategies for the Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapist”)
- WiredON Development: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiRourgmOv8AhVIjYkEHYlmCDkQFnoECAkQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fpodcasts.apple.com%2Fus%2Fpodcast%2Fwiredon-development-interviews%2Fid1231213053&usg=AOvVaw0wXbxDfv7tpgPxTkDkV05D (Interviews sharing insight from brilliant clinicians in the field of neuromotor development and childhood disability… inspiring and motivating to pediatric PTs and OTs who have a thirst for knowledge)
3. Continuing Education Courses/Webinars
Not only do pediatric physical therapists need 24 PDR credits to maintain their licensure in Michigan, but continuing education courses are a great way to keep current in their practice and improve overall clinical performance and patient outcomes. Since Covid, many courses continue to be offered online, both synchronously and asynchronously, allowing more flexibility for busy professionals. Here are a few sources that offer highly recommended continuing education opportunities for pediatric physical therapists, both in-person and online:
- Apply EBP: https://www.applyebp.com
- Liesa M. Ritchie (Persaud), PT, DPT, PCS: Know to Change: https://www.knowtochange.com
- APTA Learning Center: https://learningcenter.apta.org
4. APTA Resources
The APTA is more than just a professional organization of physical therapists. Although individual pediatric PTs bring unique skills and expertise to our profession, we are undoubtedly stronger together! Our association offers a plethora of resources and works relentlessly to publish and distribute valuable information for practicing clinicians. Many of these resources are easily accessed, educational, and concise. The APTA Michigan Pediatrics SIG highly recommends the following:
- Journal Club Meetings: APTA Michigan Peds SIG, APTA Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy School SIG
- APTA Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy Fact sheets: Supporting Development, Best Practice, Tests and Measures, Promoting Physical activity and participation, Across the Practice Settings, Populations, Interventions, and Spanish Language Fact Sheets
- APPT Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs): Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, Congenital Muscular Torticollis, Developmental Coordination Disorder
5. Social Media Groups
In this modern age, social media is a quick and seamless way to network and build virtual professional learning communities. Social media groups provide a platform to share research, case studies, and creative ideas for pediatric intervention. Therapists can easily collaborate with colleagues across the globe through discussions and sharing of resources. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and even TicTok can be a source of feedback, inspiration, and support. Listed below are a few Facebook groups recommended by local pediatric physical therapists:
- Evidence based pediatric OTs and PTs
- The Wired Collective
- Pediatric Physical & Occupational Therapists
- Pediatric Therapy Discussion Board
And a few sources to follow on Instagram:
In this digital age, access to new information is only one click away! Listed above are only a few of the many wonderful resources to explore and supplement your pediatric physical therapy practice. We hope we have inspired your curiosity for seeking contemporary ways to support our patients and families, promoting their healthy development, participation, and independence in the home, school, and community.
Stacy Zousmer, PT, C/NDT, DScPT is a physical therapist with 24 years of experience working in pediatric outpatient and school settings. She serves as adjunct faculty in the Department of Human Movement Science, School of Health Sciences at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She is a member of the APTA Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy and a co-founding member and the Vice-Chair of the APTA Michigan Pediatrics Special Interest Group.