Changes in the Content of Pediatric Physical Therapy for Infants: A Quantitative, Observational Study

Tjitske Hielkema, Rivka F Toonen, Siebrigje J Hooijsma, Tineke Dirks, Heleen A Reinders-Messelink, Carel G B Maathuis, Jan H B Geertzen, Mijna Hadders-Algra

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AIMS: The aim of our observational longitudinal study is to evaluate changes over time in standard pediatric physical therapy (PPT) for infants at risk of neurodevelopmental disorders.

METHODS: Treatment sessions in two time periods (2003-2005 [n = 22] and 2008-2014 [n = 16]) were video recorded and analyzed quantitatively in five categories: neuromotor actions, educational actions, communication, position, and situation of treatment session. Differences in percentages of time spent on therapeutic actions between periods were tested with Mann-Whitney U and Hodges Lehmann's tests.

RESULTS: No significant changes appeared in the main categories of neuromotor actions. Time spent on not-specified educational actions toward caregivers (median from 99% to 81%, p = .042) and not-specified communication (median from 72% to 52%, p = .002) decreased. Consequently, time spent on specific educational actions (caregiver training and coaching; median from 1% to 19%, p = .042) and specific communication (information exchange, instruct, provide feedback; median from 21% to 38%, p = .007) increased. Infant position changed only minimally: time spent on transitions-that is, change of position-decreased slightly over time (median from 7% to 6%, p = .042). Situation of treatment session did not change significantly over time.

CONCLUSIONS: Neuromotor actions in PPT remained largely stable over time. Specific educational actions and communication increased, indicating larger family involvement during treatment sessions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-488
Number of pages32
JournalPhysical & occupational therapy in pediatrics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 20-Oct-2018


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