Sports Medicine

Physical Therapy for Sports Injuries: You Get Out of It What You Put Into It

Sometimes, a child’s first reaction when they need physical therapy is insecurity. It's an unknown experience, and they're not sure what's going to happen.

With the physical therapists’ help, they can change that fear into confidence: Physical therapy is going to help them heal, grow stronger, and get right back into the sport they love.

The progress your child makes will depend on the time, effort, and dedication they put into the in-office and at-home physical therapy program.

Physical therapy is as much about learning as it is about doing. The physical therapist will teach your child how to recover from a sports injury, prevent future injuries, and be mentally prepared to take on new challenges.

The therapist will start by assessing your child’s health history. The physical therapist will then:

  • Assess your child’s injury
  • Assess your child’s stage of healing
  • Ask about your physical environment at home to make sure your child can safely follow through with the program when they’re not at OIC
  • Develop a treatment plan based on your child’s needs
  • Integrate sports-specific exercises into your child’s rehab program

The therapist will explain everything to you and your child, tailoring ideas and concepts to their age level. As a parent, you’re like a coach. You can reinforce the physical therapist’s instructions and keep your child motivated.

See also: About Physical Therapy at OIC 


The Physical Therapist’s Job Is Not to Heal Your Child, But Rather ...

The goal is to provide the tools your child needs to make that progress.  To get the most out of physical therapy, your child will need to go into each session with a positive mindset, confident in success. Help your child visualize playing sports again, having fun with friends, traveling with family, winning a championship.

Keeping a positive attitude can be the biggest hurdle to overcome. Ultimately, your child is the one with the power to get back in the game.


Do the Home-Work

Children in physical therapy are assigned exercises to do at home. Many children will gladly do them, since they can’t wait to get back into the game.

Others might not be as motivated. They might say they don’t have time, they’re bored, or they lost the paper that explained the exercises. Others feel that the at-home exercises aren’t that important, since they’re already going to physical therapy.

No excuses. If your child doesn’t do the home exercises, recovery takes longer. It’s that simple.

Find ways to make the exercises into something that seems more like play and less like homework. For example, make it a family game, do a home exercise video, blast some music.

When lack of time is the biggest issue, encourage your child to incorporate exercises into a daily routine. Your child can do exercises like heel raises while reading or brushing their teeth.

Questions to Ask the Physical Therapist: When in Doubt, Ask

It’s normal for questions to arise as your child actually begins exercises at home. You and your child should both feel free to ask the therapist questions about proper form, pain that might arise, or anything else that may come up.

Your child can also visit OIC’s YouTube channel for tutorials on some of the stretches and exercises that might be part of physical therapy.


Questions to Ask Your Child’s Therapist

Physical therapy is more than just performing different exercises and stretches. It’s a form of educating, or “re-educating,” a part of the body on how to function properly.

To help your child get the most out of physical therapy for sports injuries, here are some questions you might ask the therapist.

Physical Therapy Sessions at OIC
  • How often will my child need to attend?
  • How long is each session?
  • What will a typical session look like?
  • Do I need to bring anything to my child’s sessions?
  • Who will be working with my child during the sessions?
Exercising at Home
  • Which exercises should my child do at home between sessions?
  • What resources or equipment do we need at home?
  • How often should my child do them? For how many minutes?
  • Is it okay if my child does them more often than recommended?
  • How can I get cooperation from my young child (under 5) during “fussy” times?
Managing Pain
  • What are some pain management options for my child?
  • What types of pain/soreness are considered normal?
  • How much pain is too much pain?
  • What are some warning signs to watch for?
  • If my child’s pain gets worse while doing home exercises, what should we do?
Monitoring Progress
  • How will I know my child is making progress?
  • Should I keep written notes on my child’s recovery?
  • Are there apps that my older child might like to use to track progress?
  • What else can I do to help my child recover?