aquatic therapy chicago
Fun in the Sun with Aquatic Therapy
Fun in the Sun with Aquatic Therapy 1200 1018 PTN Chicago

As the weather continues to warm up, more and more children are heading to the lake, ocean, or pool to enjoy fun in the water. If your child has mobility issues or other developmental issues, they might feel left out of this play, but in many cases, they don’t need to be!

Playing in the water with your child is a wonderful way to help them improve their strength, relax their muscles and mind, and gain social skills in an environment that is both stimulating and calming.

Aquatic therapy is the term used for physical therapy that happens in water, usually a pool. Our therapists love working with children in the water, because aquatic therapy has a number of benefits over land-based therapy for many children:

  • Water reduces your body weight by about 90%, making it easier to move in the water and alleviating painful stress on joints. Many children with muscle or mobility issues are able to move with a greater range of motion in the water.
  • Being submersed in water places a gentle pressure all over the body that can be very calming, much like a weighted blanket.
  • Playing in the water is fun! Mixing up physical therapy sessions with a dip in the pool is a great way to add some excitement and joy to play therapy.

If you’ve never engaged in water therapy with your child before, you might want to start by reaching out to a trained physical therapist. Our aquatic therapists in Chicago can show you how to safely get your child into and out of the water and teach you proper techniques for keeping your child safe while in the water. Safety should always be your top concern in the pool!

Next, an aquatic therapist can show you a variety of games and exercises that you can enjoy in the water with your little one. Here are some examples:

  • Building leg strength: While you hold their body facing away from you, you can have your child put their feet on the pool wall and push backward, helping build muscle strength and coordination.
  • Improving mobility: Practicing walking or running in water that is about waist deep is a great way to build mobility skills in an environment where it won’t hurt if you take a tumble. Plus, the water adds extra resistance, helping build strength.
  • Blowing bubbles: Learning how to blow bubbles in water is a lot of fun and helps with social engagement and lung capacity.

Newborn babies all the way up to the elderly can benefit from aquatic therapy. To learn more about our Chicago aquatic therapy sessions, contact our team today.  You can also check out our Aquatic Therapy for Kids and Water Play boards on Pinterest for some great ideas on how you and your child can have fun in the water this summer!

Spring Play Therapy
It’s Time to Spring into Action!
It’s Time to Spring into Action! 1200 600 Triston Kee

The cold of winter is finally melting into the warmth of spring, and the transition couldn’t have come sooner! Your kids have probably been bouncing off the walls inside, so it’s finally time to get outdoors and enjoy some fun play therapy that will get them moving.

Here are a few of our favorite outdoor activities for speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy for kids.

Marco Polo – This is a classic version of tag in which the person who is “it” has to keep his or her eyes closed. To find the other kids, he or she yells out “Marco!” and the other kids have to respond, “Polo!”

A great way to simplify this game and make it a little less frustrating is for the “Polo” children to stay in one place. This makes them much easier to find, and it allows the game to get switched up more often, which keeps everyone happier and safer. Be sure to play this great sensory game in an open space free of tripping hazards, and always have adult supervision.

Scooting around the driveway – A fun way to practice balance skills is to hop on a balance bike, sit on a skateboard, or bring those roller boards outside and scoot around the driveway or the basketball court at the park. Draw lines with chalk to make “roads,” or follow the lines already drawn on the basketball court to add some imagination to your scooting.

Outdoor gymnastics – An open patch of grass is all you need to practice gymnastics with your children. With toddlers, you can lay down and practice rolling around on the grass. With preschoolers, you can show them how to tuck their heads and do a somersault. Your preschooler might even be ready to give hand stands or cart wheels a try (with your help, of course)!

If you make it out to your local playground, give the monkey bars a try, or even do a flip over a low bar. Both you and your little one will get a great, playful workout.

Tummy time under a tree – With your littlest little ones, getting outside for tummy time can be a great change of scenery. If your baby hates tummy time, he or she might tolerate it better when there are grass and flowers to touch, smell, and look at.

Remember to bring a blanket with you and set up under a shady tree to protect your little one from the sun. Baby will also love looking up at the leaves, birds, and swaying branches when you flip over.

For more tips on how to engage in play therapy with your children this spring, contact the PTN team today. Our Chicago occupational, speech, and physical therapists are always here to help!

indoor play
Chicago Winter Play Ideas for Kids
To Encourage Motor Skills, Speech & Social Play
Chicago Winter Play Ideas for Kids
To Encourage Motor Skills, Speech & Social Play
1000 667 PTN Chicago

Between the snow and chilly January weather, finding fun, stimulating and safe activities for kids can be a challenge for any parent.

Here in the Chicago area, we’re so fortunate to have a number of great resources and fun winter activity opportunities to help you resist the urge to turn to the iPad babysitter. There are plenty of great ways to get out of the house and allow your child to engage in important social activities with their peers. If you’re into staying in, we’ll also provide some great ideas for encouraging safe and active play in your home (even in small spaces).

Outdoor & Out-of-the-House Winter Activities for Kids

Fresh air, sunshine, and yes, even snow can be great sensory experiences for all kids, especially those with special needs. Bundle up and build a snowman, go sledding, and have fun! Even a quick 15-20 minute walk can help boost concentration and get out some of the frustrations of being cooped up indoors (…and it’s great for Mom and Dad, too)!

If you’re looking for some affordable kids’ activities in Chicago or the surrounding areas, try the Lincoln Park Zoo or the Brookfield Zoo. Both zoos offer amazing indoor play spaces, as well as hands-on activities and exploration challenges. Accessible by public transportation, the Zoo is a great space to connect with nature.

fun with aquatic therapy!We just love Goldfish Swim School, so we definitely recommended it as a great indoor swim space for kids. They offer family swim times and other opportunities for kids to experience swimming and water play. Working in the water has great benefits for kids with physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) needs, as it fosters fine motor development. Plus, the social-emotional aspects of a pool environment also go far in helping children strengthen language skills.

The Chicago Children’s Museum is another great child-friendly environment. The museum is very wheelchair accessible and offers free access for all children on Thursday evenings from 5-8pm and on the first Sunday of every month. If you really want to get your kids engaged in the museum experience, try challenging them to a scavenger hunt or asking them to “find” certain items during their trip. It adds another element of exploration and makes their trip even more exciting.

“I highly recommend Flying High Gymnastics in Countryside, IL (or their additional location in Hickory Hills). I love that this gym is very child friendly and individually focused. They offer a variety of classes that are open to children of all ages. They welcome parent participation for their “Twinkling Tots” group (all children under 3) and continue to offer graduated courses for every milestone/age group. There are various open gym opportunities every day of the week, including Saturday afternoons and weekday mornings for little toddlers. Diversity is highly valued here. Children with special needs are welcome with opportunities to adapt equipment and even seek individualized instructors. (Occupational therapists are on staff.)” –Laura Vazquez, PT, DPT, Pediatric Physical Therapist, Pediatric Therapy Network

Little Beans Cafe is tons of fun and very accessible for kids with special needs and abilities. You can enjoy the family café while your child engages in imaginative and creative play. There are creative movement classes for infants, toddlers can build on their toddler skills, and they even offer hip-hop and dance classes for older kids.

Winter Activities for Kids: At Home

January is TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) Awareness month, so it’s an appropriate time to touch on safe activities you can do at home, regardless of needs and ability levels. All children need activity and physical stimulation within a safe and comfortable space.

In the summer months, outdoor activities abound—from the park to the pool, city and suburban kids have plenty of chances to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. During the winter, getting that same activity level in can present a bit more of a challenge, especially for kids without a yard or a play space within their home.

—  Setting up a Play and Activity Space

Jumping Couch ArmsMovement and activity is key from a physical therapy perspective. Occupational therapists also know that, for kids, play IS their occupation and movement is even important for speech and language activities as well. No matter your child’s needs, the importance of regular movement and activity can’t be overstated.

Depending on the size of your home, you may need to get a little creative when setting up a safe space. First of all, look around at the resources you have on hand. Clear a space in your living room (flip up couch cushions and cover table corners and anything hard or sharp). If you have more space in the basement, kitchen or even in a bedroom, consider moving furniture and pushing beds to the side of the room to create more space. It’s all about creating a safe, open space where your child can really move around.

—  Fun Ideas for Indoor Activities

From there, the sky’s the limit in terms of activities:

  • Nerf balls and baskets can be great to get kids dunkin’ and movin’.
  • Turn on some music and start a dance party.
  • Come up with an obstacle course or challenge where kids have to engage in two or three activities in rapid succession. Try working on catching and tossing a ball, balancing, tossing a yo-yo or beanbags, or even blowing bubbles.
  • Rethink “indoor activities” and bring some of your favorites inside, modified to fit your space. Play leapfrog, create a circus ring complete with performers, or put on a short theater play with older kids.

“To curb winter blues, many toddlers love scavenger hunts! They get a thrill discovering hidden toys or just spotting them around the room. Involve them in hiding toys as well, for siblings and parent participation. After they find the toy, they can return to home base (a puzzle board or other task) after navigating through creative obstacle courses. If indicated and safe, couch cushions, improvised low balance beams, and stepping stones can be great additions to the obstacle course.

lauraBe sure to check with your therapists about any precautions for using equipment and if your child may be more at risk for any head or neck injuries. As long as the child can adapt, falling is a skill to be mastered and is a necessary part of growth! Enjoy this season, and stay warm and bundled!” –Laura Vazquez, PT, DPT, Pediatric Physical Therapist, Pediatric Therapy Network

Engaging in active, social play (instead of too much TV time) allows your child to build and hone the skills they need. For example, include activities that involve blocks and building or beads and crafts to help them really refine dexterity skills and boost concentration.

At Pediatric Therapy Network, we strongly believe in-home therapy is beneficial to your child’s development, as familiar environments are where kids feel most comfortable. Rather than going “away” to an office or building, your child learns and associates their skills with their home and other familiar places like school, the park, and among their social network.

Creating a fun, stimulating indoor space can help your child fend off winter blahs and keep them making great progress, even in the coldest months. It’s an important part of keeping kids healthy and working on gross and fine motor skills, as well as social and emotional growth. Get your kids away from the screen and engaged in some fun activities this winter!

PTN specializes in Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy, and offers a unique home-centric approach for children in their familiar environments. If you’re looking for more great ideas for your child’s special needs, or if you have questions about our services, please contact us! We look forward to serving you and your child!

PTN Makes a Splash!
PTN Makes a Splash! 1530 2048 PTN Chicago

Program Development is underway for our new community-based aquatic therapy program!  Pediatric Therapy Network is combining experienced therapy staff with your friendly neighborhood pool to create a fun and inviting setting to work on our therapy goals.  We will be introducing this program at Goldfish Swim School over the next few weeks.  If interested, please inquire at to receive updates and get enrolled.

A2B Social Mobility Group!
A2B Social Mobility Group! 1275 1650 PTN Chicago
Worth Reading: Go Baby Go
Worth Reading: Go Baby Go 267 273 PTN Chicago

Pediatric Therapy Network’s A2B Social Mobility Group was based off of the current research by Cole Galloway, associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Delaware. His Go Baby Go study is offering a fun and practical solution for improving a child’s independent mobility in order to foster active exploration of their environment and promote opportunities for improved social interactions with peers.

Interesting Facts:

  • From 6 months to 3 years of age, healthy children have the ability to move toward items that capture their interest. This allows more opportunities to learn from their environment and form important neurological connections for brain and behavioral development.
  • The majority of brain synapses or connections form by age 3, and 85% of a child’s brain development is completed by age 5.
  • More than a half-million children suffer from mobility issues from birth on.
  • There are no pediatric power wheelchairs currently available for children under 2.

For more information regarding the Go Baby Go Study please visit

Reference:  Galloway, C. Agrawal, S. The Drive to Explore. University of Delaware Research Online Magazine. 2012; Vol.3/ No.2: 23-25.

What’s New For Summer?
What’s New For Summer? 2048 1536 PTN Chicago

1) Wondering how to keep your kids busy when school’s out? Pediatric Therapy Network offers a summer intensive program to work on goals specific to outdoor play & summer activities. We are happy to develop a summer program specific to your child’s needs or to carry over school-based therapy programs & goals to ensure readiness for the next school year.

2) Pediatric Therapy Network’s new A2B Social Mobility Group!
A2B is a program designed to serve children with disabilities and their families by providing outings that will encourage effective mobility, socialization with other children, and family empowerment. A2B is a product of PTN’s interdisciplinary team in collaboration University of Illinois-Chicago physical therapy students. The goal of this program is to provide a fun and motivating way to work on mobility goals while encouraging family involvement and socialization with peers.

For more information regarding this program please contact us at

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