Many children born prematurely may need help catching up with developmental milestones such as sitting, crawling or walking. They may need assistance learning everyday activities such as dressing, too. Physical therapy – one type of habilitative service – may help. Habilitative services are those therapies that help a child develop new skills needed for everyday life.
October is National Physical Therapy Month. This is a great time to become aware of the benefits that physical therapy (PT) can offer your child, whether he was born prematurely or full term.
What does PT do?
Physical therapy can help your child increase strength and flexibility. It can also improve posture, balance, coordination and movement. PT usually focuses on large muscle groups, such as the legs, but it can also involve the entire body.
A physical therapist is a professional who has specific training in understanding the way a body works – especially muscle groups. She can assess your child and provide individualized therapy which will help him improve in the areas where he is weak. PTs are very creative in their approach to working with children. In fact, the therapy can be lots of fun, and most children look forward to their PT sessions.
Does insurance cover PT?Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), habilitative services must be covered by insurance. They are included in the ACA as Essential Health Benefits, which means they need to be covered under individual and small group health insurance plans. Check your state for specific details. For information on enrolling in your state’s marketplace for health insurance, go to HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.
Early intervention may include PT at no cost to parents
If your child is under the age of three, he may be eligible for Early Intervention services, which is a federal program provided in every state. Physical therapy is one of many services available for eligible infants and toddlers if they qualify. Therapy is usually provided at no cost to parents.
If your child is age three or older, he may qualify for PT through your local school district as a Related Service. This post will tell you how to access it.
As with all delays or disabilities, it is important to seek help as early as possible. The sooner your child gets the help he needs, the sooner he can begin improving.
Have questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.
See other posts on Delays and Disabilities: how to help your child.