Common Pediatric Movement Disorders

Pediatric movement disorders are often difficult to identify, but once detected, they are successfully treated by a pediatric physical therapy clinic. At Peak Physical Therapy, we are dedicated to assisting patients and their families to live long, happy, and healthy lives. Peak Physical Therapy treats a variety of pediatric movement disorders, including:

  • Dyskinesia
  • Dystonia
  • Cerebellar Ataxia
  • Tourette Syndrome

Pediatric movement disorders cause difficulties for patients, but the leading experts in pediatric physical therapy are ready to assist. Read on to learn more about these common pediatric movement disorders and effective physical therapy treatment options.


Dyskinesia is one of the most common pediatric movement disorders, characterized by abnormal or involuntary movements of the arms, legs, face, or trunk. A common cause for dyskinesia is prescriptions utilized to treat other medical conditions, such as Parkinson's disease. While dyskinesia affects patients differently, several identifiable symptoms can indicate this pediatric movement disorder.

Pediatric Physical Therapy for Dyskinesia

Common dyskinesia symptoms may include jerky movements or tremors accompanied by pain and discomfort. Treatment typically involves reducing or stopping the medication that is causing dyskinesia. In some cases, seeking additional treatment from pediatric occupational therapy specialists at Peak Physical Therapy proves beneficial to patient outcomes and overall recovery time.


Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder that causes sustained muscle contractions, which lead to twisting movements or unusual postures. It affects any body part but is recognized in the neck, face, arms, and legs. Symptoms vary depending on the area affected but may include difficulty walking or speaking as well as spasms or cramps in certain muscles.

Pediatric Physical Therapy for Dystonia

Treatment typically includes medications such as botulinum toxin injections (Botox), physical therapy from a pediatric physical therapy clinic, or surgery depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Cerebellar Ataxia

Cerebellar ataxia is a type of movement disorder caused by damage to the cerebellum, the region of the brain responsible for coordination and balance. This leads to difficulty with controlling movements such as walking or speaking clearly. Symptoms may include

  • unsteadiness when walking or standing up from a sitting position due to poor balance control
  • slurred speech
  • tremors
  • stiffness in joints
  • difficulty with fine motor skills such as writing or buttoning clothes

Upon a comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s symptoms, physical therapy Braintree MA professionals work with the patient and the family to establish an individualized care plan to treat immediate symptoms and prevent future pains.

Pediatric Physical Therapy for Cerebellar Ataxia

Although treatment varies depending on the cause of ataxia, treatment from pediatric physical therapy clinic professionals may prove beneficial. Peak Physical Therapy utilizes a variety of coordination and balance exercises to promote motor function. Certain medications may control symptoms such as tremors. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct any structural issues affecting coordination, or assistive devices like a cane or walker if needed for mobility assistance.

Tourette Syndrome

Tourette syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by involuntary tics that cannot be easily suppressed. Symptoms typically begin between ages 2-15 but can continue into adulthood if not properly treated early in childhood. Behavioral treatment may be recommended, featuring behavioral modification techniques such as:

  • relaxation exercises
  • medications such as antipsychotics
  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • biofeedback
  • hypnosis
  • deep brain stimulation (DBS)
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • deep relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation.

In special circumstances, Tourette syndrome can be improved with pediatric physical therapy.

Pediatric Physical Therapy for Tourette Syndrome

Finding a pediatric physical therapist that treats pediatric Tourette syndrome is imperative to future development. Common pediatric therapy services include practices such as:

  • postural control and awareness
  • pelvic floor physical therapy
  • muscle retraining therapy

Peak Physical Therapy curates custom physical therapy treatment plans for pediatric movement disorders upon thorough physical analysis and comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s symptoms, pains, and range of mobility.

Trust Pediatric Movement Disorders Specialists at Peak Physical Therapy

Common pediatric movement disorders can cause significant disruption in daily life for children and their families if left untreated for too long. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available. From therapy at a pediatric physical therapy clinic to pain management and more, the team at Peak Physical Therapy dedicates each day to assisting patients and families to live happy and healthy lives. For more information about our services, please visit our website.

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