Prescribing Therapy Services for Children With Motor Disabilities

Pediatricians commonly are asked to evaluate children with motor disabilities and to write prescriptions for physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy services. Although many states require a physician’s prescription for such services, many physicians have limited formal education about these therapeutic interventions.1 The spectrum of motor impairments affecting function in children and adolescents is wide and comprises many congenital and acquired conditions, primarily involving the neurologic and musculoskeletal systems, including but not limited to cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, myelomeningocele, spinal cord injury, neuromuscular disease, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, arthrogryposis, and limb deficiencies. These conditions are associated with motor impairments including muscle weakness, abnormal muscle tone, decreased joint range of motion, and decreased balance and coordination. There are variations in severity within each of these conditions. Many children with impairments attributable to these conditions will have some degree of disability that may limit their participation in age-appropriate activities at home, in school, and in the community and should benefit from physical, occupational, and/or speech-language therapy services.

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