My child is walking, now what?


I have been slammed with questions lately and I apologize for not posting them all. Today I want to address a question that I have been seeing pop up again and again.

Here is the basic question, although many variations exist: What do we do now that our child can walk? Is physical therapy no longer needed?

There is nothing that can take the place of a pediatric physical therapist evaluating your child. If your child has been delayed and has just begun walking, there are many more skills that he/she needs to develop depending on their age. First, one of the leading problems from this point forward will be overall balance and of course, core strength. If either of these is compromised, your child will need continued support and guidance to achieve higher level skills. Keep up the good work, though. Reaching this milestone is a tremendous accomplishment. Some would argue that crawling is harder, and I mostly agree. Both of these skills take a lot of hard work and coordination.

A side question that I have received a few times is that some parents are concerned that their child’s PT wants to keep working “on the floor” after their child began to walk. Let me say that as a pediatric PT, I never get enough of the “floor time play”. Even when I used to work with adults, I would use lower positions to make them work more. Core work and arm strengthening can be done in a fun manner with cushions and pillows, tunnels, etc on the floor. This strengthening leads to better muscle control and balance.

After walking, skills like playground play, ball skills (kicking a ball specifically), balance beam games, and a variety of walking directional skills (sideways, backwards, etc) AND running all become important. Stair climbing is also a large and long developing skill that usually explodes after walking.

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