The expert staff at The Hospital at The Children’s Institute provides a variety of services while maintaining our commitment to patient/family-centered care. Click the links below to learn more about our services.
Assistive Technology and Augmentative Communication
Brain Injury Rehabilitation
Sports and Orthopedic Rehabilitation
Palliative and Hospice Care
Pediatric Cardiac Recovery Program
Prader-Willi Syndrome Program
Respite Care Program
RND/Pain Rehabilitation Program
Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation
The Children’s Institute has both a therapeutic and full-sized swimming pool at the Squirrel Hill location. These facilities allow us to offer aquatic therapy (therapy provided by a licensed therapist or therapy assistant in the environment of a water-filled pool). The buoyancy, support and accommodating resistance of water enhances exercise and creates an environment for progressive rehabilitation. We provide aquatic therapy to manage muscle tone and positioning management, improve strength and motor control, increase exercise tolerance and endurance, decrease pain, and increase attention and tolerance to touch. Therapists from several disciplines use the pool for both inpatient and outpatient treatment. Additionally, inpatients are scheduled for recreational swimming with family members several evenings each week.
Assistive Technology (AT) is any assistive, adaptive and rehabilitative device and the process used in selecting, locating and using it in order to promote greater independence for people with disabilities. These types of devices enable our patients to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish. Our therapists have the knowledge and training to help anyone who comes through our doors reach her full potential through the use of assistive technology. Assistive technology can even be adapted to meet a child’s particular need, whether it’s a cane or walker or even a computerized systems to use at home. Our team of physical, occupational and speech therapists, rehabilitation engineers and adaptive equipment specialist work with patients to identify the assistive and adaptive technology that best matches their abilities and needs. And our team is dedicated to finding the most cost-effective solutions.
Here are some examples of how we use assistive technology.
Mobility and Adaptive Seating: a rehabilitation engineer and occupational or physical therapists assess a child's needs and skills for power and manual wheelchairs; this team also evaluates and identifies other specialized equipment – strollers, car seats, standers, etc. Therapists collaborate with the family and local vendors to identify appropriate seating and mobility options.
Environmental Assessment and Control: a rehabilitation engineer and occupational therapist complete home evaluations to assist families with making decisions about equipment and modifications that will enable them to better care for their child or young adult. Environmental controls, both high tech and low tech, may be recommended to enhance independence and safety in the home.
Areas of Concentration
The team provides evaluations, consultations and/or education and training in the following areas:
- Adaptive seating and positioning
- Computer access and applications
- Home modifications
- Manual and power wheelchair mobility
- Benefits of Applied Assistive Technology
- Prevents or decreases the onset of chronic pain
- Assists in the prevention of orthopedic deformity, respiratory compromise and decubitus ulcers
- Decreases amount of attendant care and need for hospitalization
- Provides opportunities for independent mobility that enhances self-esteem and self-initiative
- Enhances cognition, visual perception and motor skills for improved functioning
Assistive devices and accessories are available from a variety of vendors that work closely with the clinicians at The Hospital to ensure that the equipment selected by the family meets the specifications established through the evaluation process. Customized adaptive equipment and seating may also be made specifically for the patient by a fabrication specialist.
For more information about the Assistive Technology Program, please call 412.420.2400.
Augmentative Communication — We offer practical solutions for improving everyday communication skills in children who are functionally nonverbal. Children and family members can learn about the many alternative forms of communication available to them. Parents have reported more effective communication between the child, family and peers following their participation in treatment. Speech/language pathologists take an integrated treatment approach to meet the child's daily living and communication needs. The philosophy behind augmentative communication sessions is that participation and independence enhance communication and give it meaning.
Augmentative Communication evaluations, which typically last two to three hours, focus on areas such as:
- Available communication technology
- Non-technological forms of communication
- Environmental control technology
- Seating and positioning related to communication abilities
- Strategies and tools to use for improved communication in daily activities
- Augmentative Communication treatment may include:
- Discussion and hands-on experience
- Activities designed for practicing various communication methods
- Sessions held on site for outpatients and their families
- Sign language instruction
The developmental pediatrician, speech/language pathologist, and occupational and physical therapists evaluate and treat children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Programming focuses on medical management, which provides traditional and alternative treatment options for the patient/family. Outpatient therapy services address a child’s capacity for communication, social skill, gross and fine motor control, sensory processing and activities of daily living.
The goal of our Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program is to help each child regain functional skills while minimizing the effect of the injury on the child’s normal growth and development. Comprehensive treatment is initiated on an inpatient basis focusing on physical functioning and activities of daily living. Treatment frequently continues with outpatient therapies to focus on key areas requiring further strengthening, learning of compensation strategies and refinement of skill and abilities needed for return to daily life tasks at home, school and play.
In order to best serve of patients and families we offer a support group for adolescents and young adutls who have sustained a brain injury. A separate support group will occur at the same time for parents of children of any age who have experienced a brain injury. These meetings will be held on the first Wednesday of every month.
Please refer to the downloadable flyer for more information regarding these support groups, or contact Christine O'Brien at 412.420.2536 or Heather Ufberg at 412.420.2253.
Children with diabetes face new challenges with the need for total lifestyle changes. Understanding and accepting this new lifestyle requires medical management, proper nutrition, exercise and adjustment counseling. The Hospital has an inpatient Diabetes Management Program. A one- to two-week stay managed by a physician with individualized treatment and training provided by nurses, nutritionists, physical and occupational therapists and psychological counselors helps to set up a consistent routine for ongoing successful management.
When infants and children have difficulty eating due to physical or behavioral conditions, serious health problems may result. Our Functional Feeding Program provides evaluation and treatment on an inpatient and outpatient basis, for children with feeding difficulties. Clinicians from Speech/Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Psychology and Clinical Nutrition under the supervision of a pediatrician provide treatment and support for families and caregivers by teaching a variety of techniques and skills to help them manage their child’s feeding issues in the home. Feeding disorders result for many reasons and treatment is directed toward the issues interfering with eating such as behavior, sensory processing disorders, oral motor delays and/or medical issues.
Childhood obesity is one of the fastest growing health concerns in the United States. Outpatient services including nutrional evaluation and counseling and physical therapy evaluation and treatment have a highly successful track record in assisting children with weight loss. Teaching parents how to make family lifestyle changes is a key factor in the success of this program.
At The Hospital, we understand that children and adolescents are different from adults and that the rehabilitation process must be adapted to accommodate their musculoskeletal system. For children/adolescents facing sports and orthopedic injuries or requiring services after surgery, orthopedic rehabilitation can offer an opportunity to minimize lost playing time and optimize a return to their regular activities. Our Orthopedic and Sports Therapy Program is designed around the specific needs of the child and adoescent — whether it is an athletic injury, an overuse injury, an accident or recovery from surgery related to a long term disability.
Our Orthopedic Rehabilitation Program focuses on helping each child/adolescent regain range of motion, motor control and muscle strength through a team approach, which includes the family, school, sports and recreation community.
Each patient is evaluated to determine his strengths and needs. Therapists not only evaluate the musculoskeletal and neurological system of the patient but also the environment in which they function and play.
Our treatment is designed to combine therapy principles and our young patients’ needs.
We promote ongoing communication among the patient, family, parents, coaches, teachers and physician to ensure the best quality of care for the child/adolescent.
Family, patient and community education is designed to prevent injury and re-injury.
Orthopedic physical and/or occupational therapy can benefit those with a wide variety of injuries/conditions including:
- Overuse — typically seen in athletes and musicians
- Knee injury and reconstruction
- Meniscus or ligamentus tears of the knee
- Shoulder impingement, subluxation and dislocation
- Rotator cuff tears and repairs
- Patella pain and subluxation
- Tennis/golfer's elbow
- Joint sprains and strains
- Other musculoskeletal injuries
The philosophy and mission of palliative care is to ensure the physical, emotional and spiritual well being of each child experiencing a terminal illness or disease throughout her lifespan. For some children this may be a period of weeks or months, but for many, it may be years. From the initial diagnosis through multiple treatment regimens, terminally ill children need to receive services to help them fully function at their maximum capacity each step of the way.
Palliative care is not typically provided as a one-time service. The Hospital at The Children’s Institute has treated multiple children for intermittent stays that involved medical management, therapy and educational services to help them recover following other treatments which may have contributed to a decline in their ability to function. Once endurance is increased, children are discharged to resume as normal a life as possible until the next phase of treatment or illness causes another hospitalization.
Recent research reveals that critical heart disease in children has far-reaching effects that extend beyond the heart and last long after hospitalization. Our inpatient/outpatient program focuses on optimizing the healing process and improving long term outcome and quality of life for children with cardiac conditions and their families. Together, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and The Hospital at The Children’s Institute focus on the unique rehabilitation needs of patients with cardiac conditions, identifying possible complications early and making long-term improvements. Ongoing monitoring through an outpatient clinic at The Hospital allows us to identify problems months or even years after surgery and ensures referral to appropriate services for treatment. A team of pediatric health care specialists treats the whole child, not just the heart, giving children with heart disease and their families the highest quality of life possible.
The Children’s Institute operates the only comprehensive inpatient program for medical, behavioral and rehabilitation management of individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome.
In existence since 1981, our program treats children and adults using a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, nutritionists, occupational, physical, recreational and speech therapists, psychologists and teachers. The focus of the program is on individualized weight control. Our team teaches behavioral control in the living environment, nutrition awareness, physical exercise and motor control, as well as social skills and self motivation. Patients learn behavioral self-control while families and caregivers receive extensive training to help maintain the structure and support of the program following discharge.
An outpatient follow-up clinic provides for long-term management of patients and ensures timely intervention when there is a change in a patient’s status or living situation.
Caring for a disabled or severely ill child is all-consuming. Time away from round-the-clock care is often needed for the caregivers’ own health and well being, enabling them to better care for their loved one. Our Respite Care Program provides medical and support services to ensure that families can have confidence that their child’s needs are being met during their stay away from the family.
Program components include:
- 24/7 nursing care that is tailored to each child’s medical needs.
- Support services, which include structured recreation and social activities provided by our recreation staff and volunteers.
- Educational services directed by our inpatient teacher through the Cognitive and Behavioral Learning Environment (CABLE) program on an as needed basis.
Respite services at The Hospital at The Children's Institute are targeted to meet the needs of children who cannot be left to the care of “untrained” caregivers or non-professional staff when alternate care is needed. These include children with:
- Nursing or medical management needs related to self care, mobility, nutrition or pulmonary function who have been managed in a community setting with home-based medical supports
- No significant medical or behavioral issues that would require individualized staffing (1:1) or need for a secured unit
- No active infectious process that would require an isolation room
When a child is suffering from chronic pain that seems to last longer or be more intense than would be expected, the problem may be a condition known as reflex neurovascular dystrophy (RND). Other names for this condition include amplified musculoskeletal pain of childhood, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, pediatric fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome.
Provided on an inpatient and outpatient basis, The RND/Pain Rehabilitation Program at The Children’s Institute includes intense exercise therapy to the areas affected by the pain syndrome. This treatment breaks the cycle of pain and desensitizes the nerves. It also promotes increased strength, endurance, agility and function and reduces hypersensitivity. Learn more about RND treatment at The Hospital at The Children’s Institute: RND Parent Guide , RND information sheet.
The Hospital’s spinal cord program serves children, adolescents and young adults with acute, complete or partial traumatic injury to the spinal cord. It also serves those with congenital or degenerative spinal cord diseases such as spina bifida, Guillian-Barre and transverse myelitis. The goal of the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program is to help patients become as independent as possible. Assistive technology and rehabilitation equipment are key components of this program. Working with therapists to identify needed equipment, environmental modifications and technological support, we can improve performance related to mobility, self care, communication and recreation. Patient/family/caregiver counseling and education support the rehabilitation process by preparing each individual for the changes in lifestyle and specialized ongoing care that will be needed. Therapeutic recreation helps the child re-enter the community and exposes the child to adapted sports and recreational outlets.
To help young adults continue their exercise routines after hospital discharge, we now offer a Wellness Program. The goal of the program is to help patients with spinal cord injuries and other neurological conditions live healthier, more independent lives. The program is designed for patients between the ages of 13 and 25. For more information, download the brochure or contact Maria Tozzi, PTA at 412.420.2134 or Tess de las Alas, OTR/L at 412.420.2131.