Pediatric physical therapists help to ensure that your child’s physical performance in everyday functional activities is at its best.
Therapists help your child in a variety of ways, relying on their expert knowledge of the neurological, musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, and integumentary (skin) systems. Some examples of goals include achieving age-appropriate developmental milestones, better participation in gross motor activities through improving range of motion, strength, mobility, posture, balance, endurance, and coordination for independent function, and lastly, the ability to actively participate and contribute to society as a whole.
Treating your child includes examining, evaluating, and assessing the areas in which your child may have difficulty functioning and then incorporating activities to address these areas. After examining your child, the therapist will develop an evaluation of their findings using any combination of standardized tests, observations, and/or clinical expertise.
Once an assessment has been reached, your therapist will discuss their findings with you and educate you on your child’s needs; educating caregivers (and your child when possible) on the nature or extent of injury, disability, and the prognosis is an essential component of Milestone’s views on pediatric physical therapy and helps to keep the caregiver involved and informed of the child’s progress. You will also review the plan of care with your therapist, which will entail a discussion of the number of visits, frequency, duration of physical therapy, prognosis, and home activities you must do with your child to help them excel.
Together, you will then create a plan that is specific to your child’s goals and/or the family’s goals.
Activities in the form of play are provided to help your child be better motivated to reach his or her goals. Your role as a caregiver and your compliance with your child’s home program are extremely important for a successful plan of care.
Lisa graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a degree in kinesiology and sports studies in 2015. She went on to pursue her degree as a physical therapist assistant at Fox College and graduated in February of 2019. She found her passion for pediatric physical therapy during her clinical rotation at Milestone Therapy, where she worked in the school setting, Early Intervention and at the Olympia Fields clinic.STEPHANIE
Stephanie graduated from St. Louis University with a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy in 1996. She quickly became involved with local sports, volunteering her time in sports education, coach’s clinics and injury prevention for children of all ages. Stephanie returned to school after a few years and received her master’s degree in business management.
Stephanie performed physical therapy services around the St. Louis and Metro East area for most of her career. She has worked in outpatient, inpatient, rehabilitation, home health, aquatic therapy and pediatrics. Stephanie is a mother of two special needs daughters and began her Early Intervention practice when her youngest entered the program. She understands both the patient and therapist side of the program and has treated children with the same level of care as she has for her own children. Stephanie believes that every child’s success is unique and cannot be compared to what another child can do.KAITLYN
Katie graduated from Saint Louis University in 2018 with her doctoral degree in physical therapy. She began working in outpatient pediatrics for a small clinic in Missouri before coming to Milestone Therapy to work in Early Intervention in 2019. Outside of work, Katie enjoys playing fetch with her German Shepherd, Sargent, and making updates to her almost 100-year-old house.MELISSA
Melissa graduated from Ball State University in 2016 with her bachelor’s degree in exercise science. She continued her education at Fox College, Tinley Park to achieve Physical Therapist Assistant in 2019.
After school, she jumped right into the world of pediatrics and gained experience in outpatient orthopedics with all populations. She began working with Milestone Therapy in 2019 in Early Intervention at the Highland and Merrillville outpatient clinics. When not at work, Melissa enjoys spending time with her family and friends.ALEX
After earning his bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, Alex received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. While in school, he regularly volunteered at Milestone where he became passionate about pediatric physical therapy and the opportunity to help change kids’ lives.
Alex works in all settings and loves incorporating singing, dancing, games and sports into treatment. Outside of Milestone, he coaches Special Olympics in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.COLLEEN
Colleen received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Marquette University in 2009. Colleen always knew she wanted to work with children and help them achieve all that they can. She spent the beginning of her career in a hospital setting. She was looking for a career change to form long term relationships with children and families. Colleen joined the Milestone Therapy team in 2017 and is looking forward to working in early intervention.SHARON
Sharon attended Southwestern Illinois College and graduated from the Physical Therapist Assistant program alongside her indentical twin sister. In 2003 she began her career in the skilled nursing facility setting with the geriatric population. She achieved a promotion to Program Manager after her first year and continued to manage the therapy department for the next 12 years. In 2015 she decided she wanted to expand her experience and joined a pediatric home health agency servicing the North County area of Missouri for medical and early intervention needs and developed a passion for pediatrics! She is married with two daughters. Sharon is very excited to begin her journey with Milestone Therapy to help families and children in Illinois!SHANA
Shana Manning (Physical therapist): “Shana studied Movement Science at the University of Michigan and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with her doctorate in Physical Therapy. Shana was introduced to the world of physical therapy when she needed therapy herself following sports injuries. She always knew she wanted to go into healthcare and physical therapy was the perfect fit.
Entering physical therapy school, Shana was planning on a career in outpatient orthopedics, until she had her first pediatric class. Shana has always been passionate about working with children, coaching youth soccer and volunteering as a coach for special Olympics gymnastics. She decided to complete her first two-week clinical in an outpatient pediatric setting. She loved it and has not looked back since. Shana looked for other opportunities to further her interest in pediatrics, taking both of the pediatric electives offered at her school, completing another 12 week clinical in pediatrics, and applying to the Illinois LEND program, an interdisciplinary leadership training program, with a focus on neurodevelopmental and related disorders.
Shana is all about working with kids and giving them the best care possible by collaborating with families and other therapists. She finds the opportunity to impact the life of a child most rewarding.”LAURA
Laura has worked in pediatrics since her graduation from physical therapy school in 1989. She has worked in a variety of pediatric settings including the school system, home health, an early intervention center, an inpatient rehabilitation center, outpatient facilities, and inpatient facilities. Over time she found that her passion lay in working with young children and their families in their home environment, and the early intervention system provided this unique and rewarding opportunity. Laura joined Milestone Therapy in the summer of 2011, servicing Kankakee and surrounding towns, and plans on doing so for a long time to come.LILY
Lily has had a lifelong passion for working with children which encouraged her to seek out a profession in pediatric physical therapy. Lily received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, focusing on child development. She went on to receive her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Illinois at Chicago where Lily completed a 3-month pediatric clinical rotation at Milestone Therapy. She has been with Milestone since graduating in 2012, working with a variety of ages, ranging from infancy to adulthood. She finds working at Milestone both challenging and inexplicably rewarding. Lily’s passion for pediatric physical therapy grows everyday as she learns from and works with each individual child and family, collaborating to increase independence and attain each child’s highest potential.DEB
Deborah decided to pursue a career in pediatric physical therapy after realizing that she wanted a profession where she could make an impact in the life of a child and their family. She received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago, with an emphasis in childhood development and behavior. While attending the physical therapy program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Deborah completed a 3-month clinical rotation in a pediatric setting. She quickly realized that the pediatric population was her passion! Deborah has been at Milestone Therapy since 2012 and has worked with kids of all ages; ranging from 6 months to 19 years old in their home and school environment. Each day is a challenging and rewarding experience, especially because every child’s needs and personality are unique, and her goal is to help each child become the awesome person they are meant to be!CYNDI
After getting her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Cyndi decided that little kids are much more fun than graduated cylinders and plastic goggles. After a bit of research on her options, she decided to apply for the Doctorate in Physical Therapy program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. During her first year, she was lucky enough to snag a two-week internship with Milestone Therapy where she was first introduced to the world of early intervention. The fun and flexibility of working in peoples’ homes (and local playgrounds) along with the relationships she built with children’s caregivers was enough to lure her back to Milestone Therapy when she graduated in 2009. She has spent most of her time in Early Intervention, but she has also dabbled a bit in scholastic-based therapy. In addition to being a Credentialed Early Intervention provider and Evaluator, she is Milestone’s school District Program Coordinator and a Certified Clinical Instructor for physical therapy students.PUNAM RAJYAGURU
Punam graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Sociology. She knew early on that she wanted to work with children and was initially considering becoming a pediatrician. However, due to a clinical internship in the pediatric physical therapy department at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in her senior year of undergrad – her priorities quickly changed. After completing a clinical rotation with Milestone Therapy while in graduate school at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she was hooked and decided that early intervention and Pediatric Therapy was her niche. Working with children to help them achieve their milestones and helping families accomplish their goals via hands-on therapy became her passion and drive to complete her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at UIC. Punam has been working as a Pediatric Physical Therapist with Milestone Therapy since 2014 and has been working hard to help each and every kid do reach his/her full potential!HEATHER
Director of Therapy Services/Physical Therapist
Heather graduated from the University of Miami (FL) in 2005 with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences and then continued her education at Belmont University to achieve her Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2009. After graduation, Heather worked for a hospital system where she treated adults in inpatient rehabilitation, day rehabilitation, and outpatient settings. While she enjoyed working with adults, Heather knew her passion was for pediatrics. She joined the Milestone team in 2013. She currently works with a variety of children, ages birth to 21 years old, in the clinic, school, home, and early intervention settings.MIRETTE
Mirette has always enjoyed being around children and has been involved with coordinating Sunday school and children events with her church. She has also been a part of Milestone’s Respite Night where she has enjoyed spending time with kids of different ages and using her creativity in these events. She went to Benedictine university for her undergraduate, majoring in psychology and continued her studies at Midwestern University in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program. She graduated in May of 2016 and during her studies she completed a 10-week clinical with Milestone Therapy and knew that it was the right fit for her. She joined Milestone in 2016 and is currently working in early intervention and outpatient orthopedic therapy. Mirette is excited to be a part of every kiddo’s journey in reaching their full potential.JENNIFER MALWITZ
JENNIFER MALWITZ PONCE
Jennifer is a physical therapist who enjoys working with families and helping children meet their milestones. She earned her doctorate from UIC in 2015 and takes advantage of many opportunities to continue to develop her education and skills in the area of pediatric therapy. Prior to studying to become a physical therapist, she lived in Costa Rica, working for an organization that provided medical services to underserved communities. After years of classroom study and living in several Latin American countries, she is fluent in Spanish. Jennifer believes every child deserves to have as many opportunities as possible to reach his or her potential. When appropriate, she enjoys working with other disciplines to provide a cohesive plan for the child. Her approach to therapy is to assist and educate families and caregivers so that they can integrate activities into their daily routines. She considers the best part of her job is figuring out ways to develop a child’s skills through play activities that the child and their family can enjoy doing togetherDREW
Drew left the business world in 1997 to return to school and pursue his dream of becoming a physical therapist. While he thought that he’d wind up working in sports or outpatient orthopedics during his education at UIC, he fell in love with working with children somewhere along the way. After a series of pediatric jobs in Illinois Early Intervention and at local hospitals, Drew decided to start his own company, Milestone Therapy, in 2002. Initially doing solely early intervention, the company has grown to include all major pediatric disciplines in both Illinois and Indiana. In addition, MST now works with a large number of school districts throughout the Chicago-land and Northwest Indiana area, as well as having clinics to support families outside the EI and scholastic environments in each state respectively. While the business end of things can be time consuming, Drew’s passion still lays with treating children on a day-to-day basis. ‘Helping a kid learn how to take their first steps makes it easy to get out of bed every morning.’ANN
Ann went to undergraduate college at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and graduated with a degree in kinesiology. She started out pre-med but quickly found that she loved the personal interaction with patients and their families that physical therapists are lucky enough to have. It was then that she decided to get her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Illinois at Chicago and work with kids in the early intervention setting. Ann has been working in EI since 2010 and loves that every day working with children brings new challenges but also is very rewarding. Ann is currently loving Chicago city living and working in pediatrics!ANNE
Anne is originally from Plainwell, Michigan. In December 2000, Anne graduated from Midwestern University in Downers Grove, Illinois, with her Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy. She spent the first 11 years of her career practicing in the outpatient orthopedic setting, treating primarily the adult population. Anne served 3 years in the United States Navy, as a Lieutenant Physical Therapist in the Medical Service Corps. In 2011, Anne moved to California, where she made the transition to the pediatric population. Anne practiced in an outpatient pediatric clinic from 2012-2014, which provided physical, occupational and speech therapies. It was there that Anne developed her love of working with children and their families. In 2014, Anne returned to Illinois and became credentialed to provide ongoing physical therapy services within the Illinois Early Intervention Program, and is now a credentialed evaluator within the program. Anne’s area of interest is treating children in the 0-3 years old population, and helping them learn to play, develop and interact with their family and peers. She is dedicated to her continued learning and growing within the pediatric population.RACHAEL
Rachael Dunlap has been treating kids with special abilities for about 15 years and enjoying every minute of it. Her physical therapy career has been anchored in the school systems and early intervention. While specializing in the severe to profound population through the years, she is now moving into more mainstream districts to continue to develop her pediatric skills. More importantly, Rachael’s favorite color is purple and her favorite guilty pleasure food is Rice Krispy treats!KATIE
Katie has been working as a physical therapist assistant since graduating from Fox College in 2012. She has always wanted to work in a setting that put patient care above all else. Once Katie started working for Milestone Therapy in December 2012, she knew she had found her niche. Katie has worked mostly with the severe to profound population focusing on optimizing function, seating, positioning, and mobility. Her favorite workday is one that involves delivering a new piece of equipment to her patients.SHAWNERY
Shawnery is a physical therapist assistant (PTA) who has been treating in pediatrics since 1997. She works side by side with other early interventionists, starting her career as a Developmental Therapist. When she completed her schooling, Shawnery was able to provide physical therapy services to her families and enjoy every minute of it. Prior to becoming a PTA, Shawnery was a nurse’s assistant in the home care setting as well. Shawnery is always looking for new strategies and continues to use her precious experience toolbox that has made her who she is today. Her motto is, “work hard to play hard”.TONI
Toni graduated from Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa in 1998 with her Master’s in Physical Therapy. She jumped right into the world of pediatrics along with doing some outpatient orthopedic and adult home health. She began working with Milestone Therapy in 2005, and has worked in the school setting, early intervention, and in the Highland outpatient clinic, where she now is Lead Therapist coordinating the therapy side of the facility. Toni is married and has two very fun kids of her own.JESSICA
Jessica received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from UIC in 2014 and has long been passionate about working with children. Jessica grew up in St. Louis, where she spent years volunteering with children with disabilities, including through teaching dance lessons, assisting in infant and toddler classrooms, and serving as a chaperone on summer challenge trips that included sailing, hiking, and tandem bike riding. After studying biology as an undergraduate at Boston University, Jessica moved to Chicago and continued to work with children as a teaching assistant at Child’s Voice School. At UIC, she received a grant to participate in a pediatric scholars program for PT and OT students. Since graduating, Jessica has worked at Milestone Therapy in schools, Illinois Early Intervention in the Chicago area, and at their Highland clinic. Jessica has experience with children with a variety of diagnoses, including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, torticollis/plagiocephaly, and visual impairments.PAT
Pat attended the University of Colorado for his undergraduate degree, majoring in physiology and continued his studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program, graduating in 2016. Pat completed a clinical rotation with Milestone therapy in 2014. He continued his involvement with Milestone by participating in a mentorship program as well as organizing and volunteering at monthly respite nights. Pat thrives on working in the family-centered, high-energy environment of pediatric physical therapy and uses creativity while problem solving to facilitate children to reach their full potential. Pat joined Milestone in 2016, and is currently working in Illinois Early Intervention in the Bloomington-Normal area.