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Physicial Therapy & Rehabilitation

The Pediatric Rehabilitation Services at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health provides comprehensive services along a continuum of care, including inpatient and outpatient services.

The pediatric physiatrists at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health provide medical direction on rehabilitation issues and care coordination for children and adolescents of all ages, through 18 years.

We offer many services, detailed below.

Contact Us

We are located on the 3rd and 4th floors of Riley Hospital for Children. For more information or to make a referral, contact our Rehabilitation Services Coordinator at 317.944.2125.

Inpatient Rehabilitation Services

Our inpatient rehabilitation service is for children and adolescents who need 24-hour nursing care from rehab nurses and daily monitoring from physicians. This intensive therapy (two times per day) is provided six days a week, and most patients are involved in our rehab services from 9 am – 4 pm.

Families with children in our inpatient services are provided with the following accommodations:

  • 24-hour visitation for parents
  • Bedside sleeping accommodations for one parent
  • A parent may eat meals with his/her child
  • On-site laundry facilities
  • Free parking in the Simon Family Tower garage

Occupational Therapy (OT)

Our occupational therapists specialize in developing skills needed to perform daily tasks, such as dressing, bathing and eating. This includes gross motor (moving arms) and fine motor (moving fingers) skills.

The OT may also provide splints and specialized equipment to further increase a child’s independence in doing these skills. Our therapists assess and train children’s functional cognitive skills and day-to-day activities, including telling time, using a phone and shopping.

Physical Therapy (PT)

If your child has suffered a severe injury or illness, a physical therapist (PT) will prescribe activities to promote wellness and help your child reach his or her potential. There are many different forms of physical therapy designed for all sorts of injuries and mobility needs. Physical therapy can be used to evaluate joint mobility, build muscle strength, and maintain flexibility, coordination and balance, as well as assist with all types of mobility.

Our physical therapists may also have your child advance to activities that focus on his or her ability to skip, jump, hop, run and other age-appropriate and challenging skills.

Speech and Language Therapy (ST)

This therapy focuses on speech, language and swallowing disorders. Speech disorders refer to pronunciation problems, whereas language disorders refer to difficulties understanding words and/or putting words together to communicate with others. Swallowing difficulties refer to problems getting liquids and solid food safely from mouth to stomach.

Our speech therapy addresses articulation, fluency and voice disorders that distract listeners from what is being said. Language therapy deals with receptive (trouble understanding or processing language) and expressive disorders (difficulty putting words together or an inability to use language in socially appropriate ways).

Children need speech and language therapy for many reasons, including:

  • Hearing impairments
  • Cognitive impairments (thinking skills)
  • Weak oral muscles
  • Swallowing disorders

Therapeutic Recreation (TR)

Using leisure activity in rehabilitation is called Therapeutic Recreation. These activities help with physical, thinking, emotional and social skills and help children gain independence and feelings of self-worth. The activities let children make choices and help their quality of life. A Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) will work with you child on:

  • Functional leisure skills
  • Social skills
  • Initiation/awareness

You child may also go on outings in the community to practice skills learned (wheelchair skills, safety) in a more realistic environment than the hospital setting.

School Program

Since many of the children we see require months and sometimes years of rehabilitative care, we fulfill an important need by addressing the child's academic requirements. This starts while the child is either in the day treatment program or receiving inpatient rehabilitation, and it continues after program discharge.

We have a full-time teacher whose main objective is to address the child's academic needs so he or she can transition smoothly back into school when rehabilitation is complete. This academic process is highly individualized and requires us to work closely with parents and the child's school for a successful transition.

Other Inpatient Rehabilitation Services Available

  • Child life. Our child life specialists provide activities to encourage creative expression.  They also help your child learn to use coping skills during therapy and procedures to decrease anxiety and discomfort. 
  • Art therapy. An art therapist helps children express their thoughts and feelings and offers them the opportunity to make choices and gain control in an environment where they don’t always have those options.
  • Music therapy. Music therapists create a safe and inviting environment for children to explore their thoughts and feelings as part of the rehabilitation process, including the use of instruments. 
  • Registered dietician. Our dietician works with children and families to make sure nutritional needs are met by doing an assessment of each child, making recommendations for improvement, and following the child’s progress throughout their rehab stay. 
  • Neuropsychology. A neuropsychologist is a brain behavior specialist who evaluates the cognitive processing by children with brain injuries. This evaluation can help with long term planning and specialized school needs.
  • Case management. The nurse case manager helps manage rehabilitation services while your child is in the hospital, and also helps with the transition to home and outpatient services, including equipment and therapy needs.
  • Social work. Our rehab social worker provides support to families while your child is hospitalized, including adjustment to the life changes that have occurred and assistance with the transition to home by identifying resources in the local community.
  • Transportation safety. We want to make sure that all of our children are sent home with safe seating for transportation, so all children in our program receive an evaluation by a car seat safety specialist to make sure they have the safest equipment available as determined by their size and physical needs.    

Day Treatment Program

Our day treatment program is designed for children and adolescents who need intensive occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and schooling, but do not require hospitalization.

“Intensive therapy” means your child receives each therapy up to twice a day, Monday through Friday. Children and adolescents in our day treatment programs spend all or part of their days attending therapy and school sessions, then return home in the evening. A parent or other trained adult caregiver must attend the day treatment program with the child. Discounted parking is available in the Simon Family Tower garage.  

Spasticity Management Program

When a child's central nervous system is affected by abnormal development, or there is injury or illness to the brain or spinal cord, spasticity may occur. Spasticity is a motor disorder characterized by increased muscle tone, stiffness and abnormal motor reflexes. Medical conditions associated with spasticity include, but are not limited to, cerebral palsy, brain injury, stroke and multiple sclerosis.

Children with spasticity cannot control their bodies’ movements. It makes daily tasks such as walking, dressing, bathing and writing very difficult. This condition may cause a child to lose range of motion or develop orthopedic deformities.

Our spasticity management program is specific to each patient. In general, we strive to reduce muscle stiffness and resistance to movement while increasing range of motion.

These therapies won't totally eliminate spasticity, but we have seen children make incredible strides. Many learn to care for themselves and become more mobile by either walking, using a wheelchair and/or using their arms and hands to perform tasks.

Because spasticity treatment requires a multifaceted approach, our physiatrists use a comprehensive, systematic evaluation and treatment protocol. This includes reviewing your child's medical, neurological, orthopedic and functional status to achieve goals important to you and your child.

These interventions can include:

  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Serial casting, splinting and bracing
  • Oral medications (Baclofen, Dantrium, Zanaflex)
  • Medication injections (Botox, phenol)
  • Surgical interventions: Selective dorsal Rhizotomy, Baclofen pump or orthopedic procedures