Making Decisions About Home Care

Using Physical Therapy To Conquer Delays In Motor Skills

by Mae Ferguson

Physical therapy utilizes various techniques to help patients increase their comfortable range of movement. Techniques that are used include strengthening exercises, stretches, temperature treatments, and electrical stimulation. Though physical therapy is commonly used for adults, it is a fantastic option for children suffering from a gross motor delay.

Though causes of childhood motor delays greatly vary, many kids benefit from physical therapy treatment methods.


Some children have a more reserved personality that discourages them from trying to learn new skills. Physical therapy aids these kids in mastering new movements without being overwhelming. Children learn how to use multiple muscle groups through play based exercises that foster confidence.


Torticollis is a condition that affects young infants. These newborns are unable to turn or twist their neck. Though the exact cause is unknown, it can be caused by childbirth or the baby's position during pregnancy.

Physical therapy uses stretches to help afflicted babies gain full range of movement. Many stretches can be incorporated into the baby's everyday routine; the goal is to motivate the baby to frequently turn the head to strengthen and loosen the muscles.


Dyspraxia hinders the development of a child's motor skills. For unknown reasons, the brain does not sufficiently coordinate bodily movements. The child may struggle with everyday activities, such as eating or walking. Fine motor skills may also suffer, causing the child to experience speech delays.

Physical therapy introduces children with dyspraxia to exercises that improve their ability to move. The objective is to increase the child's skills without causing undue frustration. Exercises are challenging but manageable. Many are incorporated into play so that the child enjoys them.


A child diagnosed with ataxia cannot synchronize their muscles, resulting in movements that are uncoordinated or jerky. Kids with ataxia often suffer from balance issues. Though ataxia is sign of an underlying cause, physical therapy can help children improve their muscular function while the underlying cause is detected and treated.

Seeking Treatment

To effectively manage delays in a child's motor skills, early detection and treatment are essential. Your child's pediatrician can help you determine if your child is delayed, and if so, refer you to the appropriate early intervention specialist.

Children who are at risk from developmental delays at birth often benefit from immediate treatment, even as young infants.

Delays in your child's motor skills are frustrating for child and parent alike. Physical therapy is valuable to help children build muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination so that they can master common childhood movements. Early use of physical therapy aids children in improving their underdeveloped skills to allow for pain-free, uninhibited movement.