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Optimizing function for children, adolescents, and young adults

The Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine Program at Boston Children’s Hospital helps patients affected by any illness or injury that affects their function.

We are a team of physicians and nurse practicioners trained to develop intervention and rehabilitation strategies for patients based on their medical diagnoses, stages of development, and capabilities. We oversee medical and rehabilitation therapies, equipment, bracing, and exercises for patients that align with their medical treatment and goals.

A variety of causes can lead to impaired function. Some of the patients we work with were born with conditions like spina bifidacerebral palsy, or congenital heart disease. Others were diagnosed with conditions such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy or osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer).

We also work with patients with sudden impairments. This can be from an accident or injury leading to brain injury or spinal cord injury. Other patients are experiencing impairment due to an infection or immune response leading to transverse myelitis, as an example.

How we work with patients and families

We work with patients and families to align their goals with enhancing patients’ quality of life. Our first step is to understand as much as we can about a patient’s condition and how it affects their daily life. We talk with patients and their families about their goals and answer questions about how their child’s function may change over time.

The knowledge we gain from families helps shape the therapies and interventions we recommend. As our patients grow and develop, we adjust their plans to meet their evolving capabilities and goals.

How we work with care teams

As part of Boston Children’s, we work closely with teams across the hospital. We work with other physicians in neurology, orthopedics, complex care medicine, neurosurgery, and cardiology, to name a few. We also work closely with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy (including communication and feeding and swallowing), and prosthetics and orthotics specialists to make sure each patent’s rehabilitation plan is safe, effective, and appropriate to their needs.

Our recommendations often cover:

  • outpatient and school-based therapies
  • medications, including for muscle tightness (spasticity)
  • equipment and/or bracing to improve mobility and function at home and in the community
  • safety strategies to prevent injury from falls or pressure ulcers
  • management of medical complications, such as bowel and bladder dysfunction
  • referrals to other specialists as needed

Specialists in pediatric rehabilitation medicine

For patients and families, pediatric rehabilitation medicine offers a coordinated approach to achieving function and independence. As pediatric rehabilitation medicine physicians, we understand the bigger picture of medical conditions and their impact on children and adolescents’ day-to-day lives. No matter what their age, condition, or level of function, we are committed to helping each of our patients live their fullest lives.