Physical Therapy Evaluation

Physical Therapy: Questions Often Asked By Our Families


Q: Why is my child seeing a Physical Therapist?

A: Your pediatrician or another health care professional may have referred you to a pediatric physical therapist to evaluate your child’s mobility, strength, balance, coordination, and ability to function in their environment. The physical therapist will work closely with you and your family to understand your concerns for your child, partner with you to develop goals and a treatment plan to accomplish those goals.

Q: What will happen during the evaluation?

A: The physical therapist will take a medical history. They will ask questions about your child’s birth, illnesses, medications, development (when they sat, walked etc) and what things your child can do now. You may also be asked to complete a form asking you questions about your child’s abilities. The therapist will do a physical examination, checking the mobility in your child’s joints, posture, muscle strength and will look at how your child functions. Depending on the age of your child the therapist will observe your child rolling, crawling, sitting, walking, running, hopping and throwing and catching a ball. The therapist may use a computer during the evaluation to document their findings.

Q: How long will the evaluation take?

A: The evaluation may take up to 90 minutes.

Q: Will there be time to discuss the findings? If therapy is recommended, how long will my child need services?

A: The physical therapist will discuss the initial evaluation findings with you at the end of the evaluation. If therapy is recommended, they will discuss your child’s strengths, areas for improvement, a plan of care, and suggestions for physical therapy treatment. They will also talk about the plan for discharge when therapy ends. If treatment is not recommended, discuss with your therapist other resources, options and recommendations.

Q: What is my role during the evaluation?

A: The therapist will ask you questions regarding your child’s medical history, development, areas of concern and what your goals for therapy are. The therapist will let you know if they need any help during the evaluation. For example, they may ask for help engaging the child in play/activities, helping the child adjust to the novel environment, and in sharing any strategies for participation that have been successful at home. Let the therapist know the name that your child goes by (ex: nickname). Please make sure the person who brings your child for the evaluation has all of the relevant information readily available.

Q: When will I get a report?

A: You should receive a written report by mail within 3 weeks. If you have an account, visit our Patient Portal at My Children’s Specialized Patient and Family Portal to access the evaluation report. If you do not have an account, please ask a Registration Representative for your patient code.

Q: What do I need to bring?

A: Please bring:

  • A current photo ID (license)
  • Insurance card
  • Referral if needed
  • Prescription
  • School reports
  • Prior evaluations
  • Name/addresses of individuals you might want the report sent to
  • Current list of medications
  • Bring any equipment that your child regularly uses, for example: braces, walkers, etc
  • Guardian papers (if joint, or sole custody)
  • A list of questions to ask the therapist.

Q: What should my child wear?

A: Please have your child wear loose comfortable clothing and a pair of socks. It may be necessary for the therapist to remove some of your child’s clothing to see how your child breathes or the position of your child’s legs. Children with orthopedic concerns may want to bring a pair of shorts. Girls should consider a sports bra or loose tank top.

Q: Can I bring my other children?

A: If possible, it is recommended that siblings stay home so that the parent can give their undivided attention during the evaluation. Understanding that childcare is sometimes difficult, when bringing siblings, it may be helpful to bring another adult and activities to occupy the siblings during the evaluation.

Q: What if therapy is recommended, will my insurance pay for it?

A: Medical coverage will vary, but many health insurance plans cover our services. Please contact your insurance company to verify if your plan offers a benefit for physical therapy services. If therapy is recommended, our Insurance Verification and Authorization Department will obtain authorization for treatment. You may be scheduled to start treatment on the day of the evaluation. If not, scheduling will be calling you to get information regarding your availability. There may be a wait for after school therapy.

Created by the Family Advisory Council at Children’s Specialized Hospital, dedicated to collaborating with Hospital leadership and staff -- empowering families to provide valuable input toward improving organizational policies and practices.

Patient Stories

  • "She's happy, making progress, developing beautifully, and thriving. I credit this to the staff that works with her. They are devoted and never gave up on Sophia.

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  • “There are so many workshops, information resources, and people you can talk to at CSH,” said Katie. “The opportunities here are so valuable. CSH has done so much for our family; I never want Gracelyn to leave.”

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  • “Callie used to be embarrassed of using her equipment,” said Amanda. ”She is now so happy to use it and can’t wait to get to therapy every week, race to the toy closet, and pick something out.”

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