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Physical therapy (PT) is provided by a Physical Therapist.

PTs work on gross motor skills to help kids move and interact within their environment smoothly and confidently.

In therapy, PTs often work on walking and mobility, gait mechanics, strength and endurance, balance and coordination, motor planning, body awareness, and more.

They work with a wide range of diagnoses including torticollis, sports injuries, developmental delays, and more.

What is the difference between PT & OT?

PTs and OTs work very closely together on motor development. OTs focus on fine motor skills, which are the small muscles of the body. PTs focus more on gross motor skills, which are movements using the large muscles of the body.

A PT helps improve the quality of the movement whereas an OT helps improve the quality of participation in an individual's daily functional tasks. ​ 

gross motor

Skills that need full body movement and involve the big muscles of the body to perform daily functions. 


A child with gross motor deficits may have difficulty sitting upright, standing, walking, or running. 

motor planning

A skill that allows us to remember and perform steps to make a movement happen. Motor planning is used for all physical activities. These include everyday tasks like brushing teeth or washing hands.

Kids with motor planning deficits don't easily learn tasks. Even if they have done a task before, it's like they're doing it for the first time. These kids may seem clumsy. They might seem slow to learn basic skills and take a long time to complete physical tasks like tying shoes. 

body awareness

The ability to recognize where your body is in space. Your muscles and joints send your brain information about your body and how it moves. Body awareness helps us understand how to relate to objects and people at home, at school, and outdoors. For example, proper body awareness tells us how far to reach for objects or how close to stand to a person. 

A child with body awareness deficits may appear clumsy, uncoordinated, often bump into things, or have overall motor delays. 

gait mechanics

Refers to the sequence of movements needed for gait (walking). The phases of gait (as well as other motor tasks that support the foundational skills for walking) include range of motion/posture, strength, balance, endurance, and coordination. 

Gait mechanics are a huge part of PT, because walking is such a major milestone of gross motor development.

Toddler with Toys

What should my child's gross motor development look like right now?

Children develop at their own rate.

The charts below tell you when most children will reach each milestone.

Missing one skill in the age range does not mean your child has a problem.

You may want to seek help if you answer "no" to most of the skills.

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