Physical Therapy


Pediatric physical therapists (PTs) work with children and their families to assist each child in reaching their maximum potential to function independently and to promote active participation in home, school, and community environments. Physical therapists have expertise in movement, motor development, and body function (e.g., strength and endurance). They apply clinical reasoning during examination, evaluation, diagnosis, and intervention for children, youth, and young adults. As primary health care providers, PTs also promote health and wellness as they implement a wide variety of supports in collaboration with families, communities, and other medical, educational, developmental, and rehabilitation specialists.


Parents and families have the primary role in their child’s development. The pediatric PT collaborates with the family to promote development and implement an individualized intervention program. Families are supported through coordination of services, advocacy, and assistance to enhance the development of their child. This can include:

  • Positioning during daily routines and activities
  • Adapting toys for play
  • Expanding mobility options
  • Using equipment effectively
  • Facilitating safety for the home and community
  • Accessing community programs and resources
  • Providing information on the child’s physical and health care needs
  • Supporting family caregiving
  • Smoothing transitions from early childhood to school and into adult life

The process of supporting children and families begins with an interview, or conversation, to identify the child’s needs and family’s concerns and continues with an examination and evaluation of the child in the context of their daily routines and activities. This examination may include, but not be limited to, mobility, sensory and neuromotor development, use of assistive technology, muscle and joint function, strength and endurance, cardiopulmonary status, posture and balance, and oral motor skills. The process of providing pediatric physical therapy continues with collaboration, consultation, and intervention. Physical therapist assistants may be involved with the delivery of physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a licensed PT.


The Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy  of the American Physical Therapy Association supports the use of evidence-informed practice, which is the integration of research findings, clinical expertise, and family priorities and preferences. Pediatric physical therapists may use evidence-informed practice to provide any of the following services as part of their goal- directed plan of care:

  • Developmental activities
  • Movement and mobility
  • Strengthening
  • Motor learning
  • Balance and coordination
  • Recreation, play, and leisure
  • Daily care activities and routines
  • Equipment design, fabrication, and fitting
  • Tone management
  • Assistive technology
  • Posture, positioning, and lifting
  • Orthotics and prosthetics
  • Burn and wound care
  • Cardiopulmonary endurance
  • Pain management
  • Safety, health promotion, and prevention programs

Physical Therapy Staff

Suzanne Shepard DPT, PT Supervisor

After earning my doctorate in Physical Therapy from Utica University, I completed a APTA-credentialed pediatric residency program through University of Central Arkansas and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. I went on to work at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for several years and additionally competed an APTA-credentialed fellowship in neonatology. While at CHOP, my area of expertise was in the treatment of infants with critical illness and their long term follow up needs. In 2013, I completed a training and testing to become a Pediatric Certified Specialist through the APTA. I have been actively involved in clinical research, as well as teaching opportunities including continuing education courses and serving as an adjunct lecturer at Utica University. After becoming a parent, I returned home to upstate NY and began working at Whispering Pines Preschool at the end of 2016. I currently serve as the physical therapy supervisor. I treat primarily home-based early intervention, center-based early intervention, and preschool children. Additionally, I complete evaluations for children entering the early intervention system, as well as children in entering or currently within the preschool environment. Outside of work I am often found with my husband and two children. As a family we love to listen to live music and are often seen at farmer’s markets, local children’s activities, or in other community settings. 

EMAIL: [email protected]


Elizabeth DeGroff, PT

 After earning my Doctorate in Physical Therapy, I decided to pursue a career working with children because I love seeing how play-based therapy can make a difference in so many young lives. My position at Whispering Pines has allowed me to work with children from 4-months to 4-years-old in their homes and the preschool setting. Outside of therapy sessions, I enjoy hiking, camping, running, and spending time with my dog and family in the great outdoors. 

Serving: AMS/DEL

EMAIL: [email protected]


Donna Puiatti, PT

I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy at The University of Miami. During my internship at a children’s hospital, I was inspired to focus my career in pediatrics.

Throughout my career I have enjoyed helping infants to school aged children develop motor skills and increase their independence. I joined Whispering Pines in the Fall of 2015. Outside of work I enjoy reading and Summer vacations at the ocean.

Serving: AMS/COB/McNab

EMAIL: [email protected]

Samantha Smith PT, DPT

Hello! My name is Samantha Smith, and I am a Physical Therapist. I work with children on site at Cobleskill and Delanson. I also work with children and families in the home setting. I have always had a passion to help children grow and I enjoy helping children reach their potential by increasing their strength and mobility, while having fun along the way.  I have a doctoral degree from The Sage Colleges and I enjoy many outdoor sports and activities.

Serving: Cobleskill/Schoharie

EMAIL: [email protected]

Kaitlyn Westfall, PT

Bio & Contact Info

Serving: Clara Bacon

EMAIL: [email protected]


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