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Pediatric girl patient laughing in wheelchair in inpatient rehabilitation.

What Is Inpatient Rehabilitation?

When patients are well enough to participate in more intensive therapy, they may be transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation program. The goal is to help your child become as independent as possible. Patients typically participate in about six hours of therapy, nursing and education each day. This type of comprehensive rehabilitation is held in a healthcare facility, where your child will be admitted, and is considered the gold standard for caring for and treating children after an injury or illness.

What is the Inpatient Rehabilitation Program at Children’s?

The Inpatient Rehabilitation Program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is one of the nation’s largest pediatric programs of its kind. Our program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), which has given Children’s specialty recognition for our Spinal Cord Specialty Program as well as our Brain Injury Specialty Program and Pediatric Specialty Program. Our highly skilled team uses everyday activities and individualized therapy plans to motivate children and teens 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 home, to the community and to school as quickly as possible.

How does Children’s approach inpatient rehabilitation differently?

When it comes to your child’s or teen’s recovery from an injury or illness, where you take him matters. At Children’s, we understand the physical and emotional needs of young children and teens who are recovering from injuries and medical conditions that may require an intense level of care in inpatient rehabilitation. We also understand that the needs of a child are different from those of a teen or young adult and customize our therapy and care accordingly.

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

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.

At Children’s, we offer comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation for kids and teens recovering from the following:

Our Brain Injury Program helps children with brain injuries caused by trauma or disease as well as other neurological conditions. Our CARF accredited program helps children 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.

In 2020:

  • Our Inpatient Rehabilitation Program cared for 144 children with traumatic and non-traumatic brain injuries.
  • Our average length of stay for children with traumatic brain injury was 23.3 days.
  • 97% of our patients with traumatic brain injury were discharged back to their homes.

Our burn rehabilitation services address everything from partial surface burns to full and deep injuries. We provide individualized burn rehabilitation—including self-care, dressing and wound care—to help children and teens 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 rehabilitation 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

Our Cancer Rehabilitation Program utilizes an interdisciplinary team approach to address the unique rehabilitation needs of the children, teens and young adults who have been diagnosed with all types of cancer. Our team collaborates with oncologists and other pediatric specialists to deliver coordinated care and to optimize outcomes.

In 2020, our inpatient rehabilitation program cared for 43 children with cancer.

We provide specialized care for children and young adults who have a spinal cord injury and a corresponding brain injury, which is 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 also 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 nurses
  • Physical, occupational, speech, recreation and music therapists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Rehabilitation case managers
  • Social workers
  • Child life specialists
  • Certified teachers
  • Chaplains
  • Vocational rehabilitation counselors
  • Volunteers

We provide specialized, intensive rehabilitation 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 pediatric gastroenterologists, pulmonologists, neurologistsneuropsychologists, psychologists and neurosurgeons. We provide three hours of therapy to patients each day, allowing time for rest and structured activities. This allows for ample interaction and supervision with your child’s doctors and therapists.

It’s important for parents to be involved in 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 like bedsores.
  • School reentry 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.

Our Spinal Cord Injury Program provides specialized rehabilitation for children and teens with spinal cord injuries caused by trauma or disease. Our CARF accredited program helps children optimize functional abilities and cope with future challenges.

In 2020:

  • Our Inpatient Rehabilitation Program cared for 36 patients with traumatic and non-traumatic spinal cord dysfunction.
  • Our average length of stay for children with traumatic spinal cord injury was 34 days.
  • 90% of our patients with traumatic spinal cord injury discharge back to their homes.

Other Conditions

What Other Conditions Do We Treat in Our Inpatient Rehabilitation 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.

More About the Inpatient Rehabilitation Program

In our 28-bed unit at Scottish Rite Hospital, 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 reentry, music and pet therapy, recreational therapy, pediatric psychology, and neuropsychology. We offer comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation through a variety of specialized programs and therapies.

Our therapy offerings include:

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 rehabilitation—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 pediatric physiatrists and cardiologists and may include staff and specialists, such as:

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

Learn more about child life services

In group therapy and patient mentoring, patients may 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 rehabilitation journeys.

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

Learn more about occupational therapy.

We offer behavioral health services provided by licensed pediatric psychologists with specialized experience in treating patients with rehabilitation needs. The services provided by our 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 the 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.

Children’s Canines For Kids is an animal-assisted therapy program that 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 while providing emotional support.

Teen rehabilitation dog therapy

Physical therapy is an important part of our rehabilitation 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.

Child with doctor receiving physical therapy

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 Rehabilitation.

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 regains strength and function, we’ll introduce new equipment and exercises to help make sure he continues to improve.

Our dedicated team of certified teachers helps patients and families navigate the process of school reentry by communicating with your child’s school during his stay, as well as facilitating the process of returning to school and advocating for any needs your child may have.

Our speech therapists provide individualized care to address a variety of speech, language, thinking, and feeding or swallowing problems in children and teens.

Our speech-language pathology services combine assessment procedures and age-appropriate therapies to discover and treat the cause of your child’s or teen’s problem.

We provide teen rehabilitation 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.

Children’s therapeutic recreation not only will help your child resume the activities he enjoyed before hospitalization but will also introduce him 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, pediatric rehabilitation nurse and other members of the therapy team participate in these outings to answer questions, provide assistance, and help make sure caregivers feel comfortable in the community before their children are discharged from the hospital. These outings also allow patients and families the opportunity to practice all they have learned during rehabilitation 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 allows 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 and bowling ramps.

Our inpatient rehabilitation team will create a program to meet your child’s needs. Some of his rehabilitation activities may be the same as those of other patients in the program, but some activities may differ. Therapy is provided seven days a week, including holidays.

See a sample schedule below:

  • 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.: activities of daily living, medication 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 (posted in Hospital Happenings)
  • 10 p.m.: TV and lights out

Your child will be offered a bath daily.

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:

Our Center for Advanced Technology and Robotic Rehabilitation offers a wide range of advanced technologies as part of the overall treatment strategy for children and teens with motor-skills impairment.

Technology-assisted therapies:

  • Help children perform more repetitions and practice skills they may not be able to perform otherwise.
  • Allow our therapists to use computers and sensor controls to direct and pace a child’s movement.
  • Promote communication between the brain and muscles.
  • Promote motor learning by tracking a child’s response and providing biofeedback.

Children’s is often among the first hospitals to offer our patients emerging technologies. We were the first pediatric hospital in the county to offer the Ekso Robotic Exoskeleton, an exoskeletal-assisted walking device that uses electronic motors and sensors to help children stand and walk more easily.

This service includes augmentative communication options, advanced computer access, and seating and mobility. Assistive technology can provide children and teens the opportunity to enjoy a variety of activities and gain independence using devices such as adaptive video game controllers, sports equipment, toys, fishing poles and more.

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.

Rehabilitation therapy pool

The Day Rehabilitation Program is a full-day therapy program for patients recovering from traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries, cancer, neurological diseases, debility or other conditions. It’s designed to help children and teens regain skills to perform everyday activities. Structured like a regular school day, the Day Rehabilitation Program is available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

The rehabilitation team—which includes physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, nurses and a certified teacher—places a special focus on:

  • Physical therapy: mobility, walking or wheelchair skills, coordination, and balance
  • Occupational therapy: activities of daily living, self-care, bathing, grooming, dressing and cooking
  • Speech-language pathology: communication, speaking, reading, writing and swallowing
  • School reentry: advocacy and assistance as children and families navigate through the process of returning to school
  • Community reintegration: play, leisure skills, driving and work

Our program also has a designated facility dog, Stella, who helps motivate and encourage patients as they participate in therapy.

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.

Our experts in orthotic and prosthetic care, known as orthotists and prosthetists, are specialists in creating custom designs for children who need orthopedic braces or artificial limbs. They apply the latest advances in technology so that growing children can continue to reach functional goals at home, in the classroom and while playing.

Learn more about orthotics and prosthetics at Children's.

Our Outpatient Rehabilitation Program is offered at three neighborhood locations across metro Atlanta. We provide audiology, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology services. Our team helps patients regain skills so they can be more successful at home and in the community. By training families in therapy techniques to use at home with their children, the Children’s outpatient rehabilitation staff helps patients become more functional and independent.

Learn more about outpatient rehabilitation at Children’s.

Children’s Physician Group is made up of more than 500 pediatric-trained doctors and surgeons who represent more than 30 different specialties, from allergy to orthopedics. Clinics are conveniently located within Children’s three hospitals, as well as multiple locations in metro Atlanta and surrounding communities.

Graduates of our Inpatient Rehabilitation and Day Rehabilitation programs and their families are invited each year to attend our Rehab Reunion. This is an opportunity for current and previous rehabilitation patients to celebrate their hard work and see friends who were part of their rehabilitation journeys.

Our Sports Medicine Program is one of only a few in the country dedicated exclusively to the care of growing athletes. We offer sports physical therapy at multiple neighborhood locations and provide athletic training coverage to nearly 40 schools and club sports in metro Atlanta. Our pediatric-trained team provides comprehensive assessment, treatment and expert advice for athletes with injuries and conditions that affect sports performance.

Learn more about sports medicine at Children’s.

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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:

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.

Finding the right inpatient treatment facility

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

During your child’s 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 include: 

  • 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 a bed for parents or caregivers

Our facility includes:

  • A family lounge area with a microwave, refrigerator and freezer for parents and caregivers
  • Washer and dryer availability (including laundry detergent)

Learn about the amenities at Scottish Rite Hospital

Our Location

We offer inpatient care at Children's Scottish Rite Hospital. We also offer day rehabilitation and outpatient rehabilitation at our locations across metro Atlanta.

Scottish Rite Hospital
1001 Johnson Ferry Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342