Why Pediatric Inpatient Rehabilitation Matters

When it comes to your child or teen’s recovery, where you take him matters. The Inpatient Rehabilitation Program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is one of the nation’s largest pediatric inpatient rehabilitation programs and is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), which has given us specialty recognition for our spinal cord specialty program, as well as our brain injury and pediatric specialty programs. Our highly skilled team uses everyday activities and individualized therapy plans to motivate children and teenagers recovering from conditions and disorders that impair physical, mental and cognitive functions. Patients travel from all over the country to have our rehabilitation experts help them reach their highest potential. Our goal is to help patients return to home, to the community and to school as quickly as possible.

What We Treat

We offer comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation for kids and teens recovering from the following:

Brain injuries

Our Brain Injury Program helps children with brain injuries or other neurological conditions develop the functional skills they need in order to return home as quickly as possible. We provide an individualized, progressive treatment plan to help them succeed and reach their full potential.

Learn more about our Brain Injury Program

Burns

Our burn rehabilitation services address everything from partial surface burns to full and deep injuries. We provide individualized burn rehab—including self-care, dressing and wound care—to help children gain the confidence and skills to regain function and independence. Therapy is a vital part of the physical, emotional, social and functional rehabilitation of our patients.

Our burn rehab specialists help children regain the ability to perform everyday activities, such as going to school. Our comprehensive care includes:

 

  • Behavioral management
  • Compression garments for scar management
  • Occupational therapy
  • Pain management
  • Physiatry
  • Physical therapy
  • Pulmonology therapy, including respiratory therapy
  • Rehabilitation nursing
  • Speech-language pathology for oral burns
  • Therapeutic recreation

Dual diagnosis

We provide specialized care for children and young adults who have a spinal cord injury and a corresponding brain injury, known as dual diagnosis. Patients with a dual diagnosis may experience physical and mental complications. They often need therapy to regain strength and mobility while working on possible learning and memory impairments.

Treatment for pediatric dual diagnosis can be extremely challenging because a child’s growth and development has to be factored into his healthcare. To help patients return home with the highest possible level of function, our multidisciplinary team takes a comprehensive, aggressive and individualized approach that applies age-appropriate treatments.

Team members may include:

  • Board-certified pediatric and subspecialty doctors, including pediatric physiatrists
  • Registered rehabilitation nursing staff
  • Physical, occupational, speech, recreation and music therapists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Rehabilitation case managers
  • Social workers
  • Child life specialists
  • Certified teachers
  • Chaplains
  • Vocational rehabilitation counselors
  • Volunteers

Disorders of consciousness

We provide specialized, intensive rehabilitation therapy to children who are medically stable and demonstrating a disorder of consciousness following a brain injury. Children receive medical care and therapy to increase responsiveness and function, and families receive extensive training in order to care for the child at home.

Board-certified physiatrists lead a multidisciplinary treatment team that may include gastroenterologists, pulmonologists, neurologists, neuropsychologists, pediatric psychologists and neurosurgeons. We provide three hours of therapy to patients each day, allowing time for rest and structured activity. This allows for ample interaction and supervision with their doctors and therapists.

It’s important for parents to be involved with their child’s care once he leaves the hospital, so our specialists teach you what you need to know and do for at-home care, including:

  • Medicine administration: Why a medicine is prescribed and how to obtain, store, measure and dispense it
  • Nutritional management: Why certain foods are recommended and how to feed your child in the healthiest way possible
  • Bowel and bladder care: How to keep your child dry, including how to change diapers and provide toilet retraining
  • Respiratory care: How to manage the devices that keep your child breathing, such as ventilators and tracheotomies
  • Safety management and care: How to keep your child healthy, infection-free and safe at home
  • Community education and reintegration: How to include your child in family life, such as taking trips, going to appointments and attending community events
  • Transfer and mobility: How to move, position and travel with your child, as well as how to operate and manage a wheelchair
  • Skin care: How to care for your child’s skin and prevent problems such as bedsores
  • School re-entry and advocacy: How to help your child adjust and function at school, and what you should know about government requirements for educational support
  • Diagnosis and recovery: What you need to know about your child’s diagnosis and what you can expect during recovery

Spinal cord injuries

We provide specialized rehabilitation for children and teens with spinal cord conditions to help them regain independence and cope with future challenges.

Learn more about our Spinal Cord Injury Program

Our team cares for patients with many conditions that may not be included in the list above, such as:

  • Cardiac complications
  • Strokes
  • Respiratory dysfunctions
  • Post-surgical procedures

We are happy to speak with you about your child’s individual needs and how we can support his recovery.

Pediatric Rehabilitation Services We Offer

In our 28-bed unit on the Scottish Rite hospital campus, patients receive nursing care 24 hours a day. A wide range of therapies and services are offered seven days a week, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and additional services, such as school re-entry, music and pet therapy, recreation therapy, pediatric psychology, and neuropsychology. We offer comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation through a variety of specialized programs and therapies. Our therapy offerings include:

Aquatic therapy

We provide aquatic therapy using the unique properties of water to improve movement and function.

Our facility has a state-of-the art hydrotherapy pool with a variable depth floor, underwater treadmill, parallel bars, resistant jet capability, video cameras, and a myriad of flotation and aquatic therapy equipment.

Learn more about aquatic therapy

Cardiac rehabilitation

Our Cardiac Rehabilitation Program helps those with congenital (present at birth) heart defects and acquired heart disease increase endurance, regain strength, and reduce future health risks. One of only a few of its kind in the country, our pediatric program centers on exercise, education and functional skills. It’s suitable for children and teens with a history of cardiac disorders such as heart transplant complications, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias and cardiac arrest.

We provide care for patients from birth to age 21 in all rehabilitation phases—acute, inpatient, day and outpatient rehab—and from early intervention therapy to at-home maintenance. We use age-appropriate methods to help patients achieve developmental milestones and return to active lives.

Our cardiac care team is led by board-certified physiatrists and pediatric cardiologists and may include staff and specialists such as:

  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Psychologists
  • Child life specialists
  • Social workers
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physician assistants
  • Dietitians
  • Rehabilitation nurses
  • Case managers
  • Hospital teachers

Child life services

Our child life specialists provide quality care for your child, as well as your family, throughout the hospital stay. This can include educating your child about illness, treatment and surgery, as well as preparing any siblings for their hospital visits. The specialists provide support during procedures and attempt to normalize their environment through age-appropriate play and group activities.

Learn more

Driving rehabilitation

Our Driver Rehabilitation Program assesses a teen's ability to safely learn to drive or return to driving after an injury or illness that affects cognitive function, vision or physical abilities. It includes clinical and behind-the-wheel evaluations performed by a certified driver rehabilitation specialist.

Learn more

Group therapy and patient mentoring

Patients may also participate in group therapy and peer support groups with other patients facing similar challenges and goals. These groups allow patients to talk about their injuries or illnesses and support each other during their stays. In addition, we connect our patients and families with former patients of similar age and diagnosis. This gives our families mentors to help throughout their rehab journey.

Learn more

Music therapy

Music therapy uses musical activity—such as creating, singing, playing or listening to music—to strengthen the physical, emotional, cognitive and social abilities of patients as part of the healing process.

Music therapy at Children’s helps patients:

  • Manage pain
  • Express emotions
  • Improve thinking, attention, alertness, memory, and vocal and verbal expression
  • Develop social skills and relate to others
  • Improve movement and physical strength
  • Develop the ability to speak and communicate
  • Relieve stress through relaxation
  • Decrease pain or anxiety during medical procedures

Our music therapists observe the way your child participates in activities to learn about his musical preferences, interest level and history. Your child’s therapist will use this information to develop a customized music therapy plan, which may involve treatment individually, in peer groups, with the family, or in other therapy sessions. During therapy, your child might play musical instruments, sing or hum, or listen, move or exercise to music. He may also write or compose music or work with multimedia music resources.

The conditions we treat with music therapy are:

  • Burns
  • Cognition and memory impairment
  • Decreased mobility
  • Developmental delays
  • Learning disabilities
  • High-risk neonatal circumstances
  • Long-term medical illness
  • Physical injuries and disabilities
  • Speech-language problems

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy teaches your child to do things for himself, like feeding, drinking and going to the bathroom. This includes working on physical, cognitive and vision problems that may have come from your child’s injury or illness.

Pediatric psychology

We offer behavioral health services provided by licensed pediatric psychologists with specialized experience in treating patients with rehabilitation needs. The services provided by our pediatric psychologists include, family education and training, individual one-on-one counseling for your child, and behavioral health support provided alongside our rehabilitation therapists. The goal of these services is to address behavioral health needs of your child, provide holistic care and support all aspects of your child’s recovery. Families are also provided with outpatient behavioral health referrals for treatment following discharge.

Pet therapy

Children's Canines For Kids animal assisted therapy program helps ease anxiety and promotes shorter recovery times. Canine Assistants trains our facility dogs to provide therapy, hope and healing by giving loving support and company to our patients. The facility dogs in our rehabilitation program are trained to assist in the therapeutic experience by helping patients move, and communicate providing emotional support.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is an important part of our program. Physical therapists help your child improve his muscle tone, balance, strength, endurance and movement through exercise and activity. These skills help your child become more mobile.

Rehabilitation gyms

We have three gyms, including one specifically designated for teens, featuring age-appropriate environments to encourage and motivate patients as well as specialized equipment for patients of all ages and sizes. Therapists incorporate age-appropriate games and activities during therapeutic exercises and practice to keep our patients engaged and motivated, which helps each patient achieve the best recovery and outcome possible. Many pieces of equipment that are located in our gyms on the rehabilitation floor are also in our Center for Advanced Technology and Robotic Rehabilitations.

Team members will create an individualized treatment plan for your child or teen that incorporates a variety of equipment and therapy techniques to address his condition. As he progresses through therapy and regain strength and function, we’ll introduce new equipment and exercises to ensure he continues to improve.

School re-entry

Our dedicated team of certified teachers helps patients and families navigate the process of communicating with the patient’s school during their stay and facilitates the process of returning to school, advocating for any needs the child may have.

Learn more

Speech therapy

Our speech therapists treat speech, language, thinking, and feeding or swallowing problems.

Teen rehabilitation

We provide services for teens who require care due to accidents, illnesses or congenital (present at birth) defects. Our therapists help teens develop the skills they need to become independent adults.

Learn more about our teen rehabilitation services

Therapeutic recreation

Children’s therapeutic recreation not only helps patients resume the activities they enjoyed before their hospitalization, it also introduces them to new activities. Playing in this way can be a profoundly healing experience.

Our therapists use a variety of methods and activities to keep children and teens involved and engaged in their recovery:

  • Individual treatment sessions give patients one-on-one interactions that improve their strength and endurance through active, healthy leisure choices.
  • Group treatment sessions encourage social interaction among peers.
  • Community outings: offer patients and families the opportunity to visit a variety of locations in the community. Therapists coordinate these outings, which involve parents and caregivers, to match the specific needs of each patient. These events help patients discover their abilities, improve their functional independence, and learn new skills that will prepare them to return to school and other activities. A recreation therapist, a pediatric rehab nurse and other members of the therapy team participate in these outing to answer questions, provide assistance and ensure that caregivers feel comfortable in the community before their children are discharged from the hospital. These outings allow patients and families the opportunity to practice all they have learned during rehab and prepare for returning home.
  • Therapeutic play allows patients to adjust to their surroundings and have fun as they participate in inpatient rehabilitation.
  • Our Adaptive Sports Program helps those with disabilities find sports activities they enjoy and can play safely, such as wheelchair basketball, quad rugby or power soccer.
  • Assistive technology can allow children and teens to enjoy a variety of activities and gain independence using devices such as adaptive video game controllers, sports equipment, fishing poles, toys, switch-operated digital cameras, bowling ramps and others.

What does a typical day look like?

Our rehabilitation team will create a program to meet your child’s needs. Some of your child’s rehab activities may be the same as those of other patients in inpatient rehabilitation but, some activities may be different. Therapy is provided seven days a week, including holidays. See our sample schedule below:

  • 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., Activities of daily living, medicines and tube feedings (if needed)
  • 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., Breakfast
  • 8:30 a.m. to noon, Individual or group therapy sessions
  • Noon to 1 p.m., Lunch group or break time in your child’s room
  • 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Individual or group therapy sessions
  • 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Group time or break time in your child’s room
  • 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., Dinner in your child’s room
  • 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Family time, evening programs (see posted Hospital Happenings)
  • 10 p.m., TV and lights out

Your child will be offered a bath daily.

After inpatient rehabilitation

Patients who complete their care in our Inpatient Rehabilitation Program may also benefit from some of our other services as part of our continuum of care. These include:

  • Assistive technology: this service includes augmentative communication options, advanced computer access, and seating and mobility.
  • Day rehabilitation: This is an outpatient program for patients ages 4 to 21. Patients attend Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to work on improving their functional skills and independence while still being followed by our medical team.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation 
  • Orthotics and prosthetics
  • Outpatient specialty clinics
  • Sports medicine physical therapy 
  • Rehab Reunion: Graduates of our Inpatient Rehabilitation Program and the Day Rehabilitation Program, and their families, are invited each year to attend our Rehab Reunion. The reunion is an opportunity for current and previous patients to celebrate their hard work and see friends who were part of their rehab journeys.

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Our Unique Approach

We understand the physical and emotional needs of young children and teenagers who are recovering from injuries and illnesses that require the intense level of care of inpatient rehabilitation. We also understand that the needs of a child are different than the needs of a teenager or young adult and customize our therapy and care accordingly.

Many of our team members have additional training and special certifications in specific areas that help our team excel at managing the needs of pediatric rehabilitation patients, including recognition from the following organizations.


Meet the Team

Our team of rehabilitation specialists is led by pediatric physiatrists who are specially trained to diagnose, manage and treat young patients with acute and traumatic medical conditions affecting their functional abilities. All of our physicians are board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and several are additionally subspecialty certified in pediatrics and brain injury medicine. Our team of doctors follows your child throughout his recovery and provides care plans.

We understand and can accommodate the physical and emotional needs of young children and teenagers who are recovering from injuries and illnesses that require the intense level of care of inpatient rehabilitation. We also understand that the needs of children and teens are unique and different than the needs of adults and customize our therapy and care accordingly. Our team is led by Medical Director, Joshua Vova, MD, who is certified in brain injury medicine and helps guide our program.

Physiatrists

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

Our multi-specialty team includes:

  • Board-certified pediatric physiatrists
  • Pediatric subspecialty physicians
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech therapists
  • Rehab nurses
  • Pediatric psychologists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Rehab case managers and social workers
  • Certified teachers
  • Child life specialists
  • Chaplains
  • Music therapists
  • Nutritionists
  • Recreational therapists
  • Facility dogs
  • Volunteers

Each patient has a care team that makes daily visits, participates in family conferences and provides education to families. Additionally, patients have easy access to a range of pediatric subspecialists across many disciplines. Our team works with each family to help provide a smooth transition throughout rehabilitation and returning home.

Choosing a Facility

Finding the right inpatient treatment facility

There are many factors to consider when deciding where to send your child for inpatient rehab services. Here are some important things to keep in mind when making your decision.

Read more

During your stay at Children's

All of our 28 outpatient rooms are private and can sleep up to two adults in addition to the patient.
All rooms have:

  • A private bathroom 
  • A TV
  • Bluetooth wireless speaker system
  • A safe for valuables
  • Overhead lift equipment to help with bed mobility
  • Linens (sheets, pillows and blankets)
  • A Sofa that converts to bed for parent/caregiver

A family lounge area with a microwave, refrigerator and freezer is available for parents and caregivers. Washers (including laundry detergent) and dryers are also available.

Learn about the amenities at Scottish Rite hospital

Locations

We offer inpatient care at Scottish Rite hospital. We also offer day rehabilitation and outpatient rehabilitation at nine locations around the metro Atlanta area.

Scottish Rite hospital

1001 Johnson Ferry Road NE

Atlanta, GA 30342-1605

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