Let’s play! An observational study of primary care physical therapy with preterm infants aged 3-14 months.

Sensory-motor play is at the core of child development and an important element in physical therapist(PT)s’ work to improve infants’ motor skills. In this study, we investigate how PTs scaffold and use play in physical therapy intervention with preterm infants at corrected age (CA) 3-14 months. The authors collected data by observing 20 physical therapy sessions. In the analysis, we connected to enactive theory on cooperation.

Successful use of sensory-motor play in physical therapy requires cooperation toward common goals. This is achieved via an enactive therapeutic sensory-motor play approach, in which the PTs plan and tailor the intervention to match the infant’s interests; attune themselves to the infant’s intentions; and incorporate therapeutic measures in sensory-motor play interactions with the child. Via cooperation and mutuality in therapeutic interactions, PTs can provide play situated learning opportunities that support the infants’ development and understanding of the world.