Pediatric PTs have a language all of their own! Here's a guide to help you decode what your PT is saying to you:

Base of support - Refers to the area beneath an object or person that includes every point of contact that the object or person makes with the supporting surface. These points of contact may be body parts, (for example feet or hands), or they may include assistive devices like crutches.  

Core - Pertaining to the trunk (primarily abdominals and back).

Directions of movement:

  • Abduction - A movement of a limb away from midline or the center of the body

  • Adduction - A movement of a limb toward midline or the center of the body

  • Flexion - A bending or forward movement of the spine or limbs

  • Extension - A straightening or backward movement of the spine or limbs

  • Internal Rotation - An inward turning of the limb toward the body

  • External Rotation - An outward turning of the limb away from the body

Dissociation - Separation. For example: one extremity/limb performs a movement without the other extremity doing the same or similar movement at the same time.

Bilateral Coordination - The ability to use both sides of the body together in a smooth and coordinated manner.

Bilateral integration - The neurological process of the integration of sensations from both sides of the body, a foundation for bilateral coordination.

Body Awareness - The mental picture of one’s own body parts, where they are located, how they interrelate, and how they move.

Gross Motor Skills -  Coordinated body movements involving the large muscle groups.  A few activities requiring this skill include running, walking, hopping, climbing, throwing and jumping.

Hypermobility - Movement beyond normal range of motion.

Hypertonic - Muscle tone higher than normal with increased resistance to passive movement.  In extreme form = spasticity.

Hypotonic - Muscle tone lower than normal with decreased control of movements.  

Instability - Lack of firmness in weight-bearing. Difficulty maintaining weight bearing/ state of being unstable.  

Midline - A median line dividing the two halves of the body. Crossing midline is the ability to use one side or part of the body (hand, foot, or eye) in the space of the other side.

Motor Planning - The ability to organize and perform movement in a meaningful manner.

Postural Stability - Being able to maintain one's body in a position to efficiently complete a task or demand, using large muscle groups at the shoulders and hips.

Prone - A position lying on your stomach, face down.

Proprioception - the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body (joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments) and strength of effort being employed in movement. The “position sense”.

Range of Motion - A measure of the amount of movement/motion available at any given joint of the body.

Static - No movement/in equilibrium/at rest.  

Supine - A position lying on your back, face up.

Unilateral - Affecting or occurring on only one side of the body.

Vestibular -  The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that help control balance, spacial orientation/ body awareness, and eye movements.

Weight shift - Translation or movement of body weight from one side to another, forward or back.

And of course, if you ever have any questions for your physical therapist, never hesitate to ask!


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