Young patient participates in occupational therapy with therapist

Occupational therapy can help children with physical, mental or cognitive disorders develop, maintain or recover daily living skills. Therapy focuses on improving fine-motor and oral-motor skills, perceptual and sensory processing, and neuromusculoskeletal function. Therapists also help children with self-care, feeding and managing assistive devices.

What do pediatric occupational therapists do at Children’s?

At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, your child’s occupational therapist will examine how they perform a variety of functions and tasks. This includes upper extremity use, how your child calms themself down, planning and making movements, handwriting, cutting with scissors, and processing information through the senses. Therapists apply positive, team-oriented treatments to help children function at the highest possible levels at home, at school and while playing.

In addition to outpatient treatments, our therapists provide inpatient rehabilitation.

Our pediatric occupational therapists work with children and teens who have been diagnosed with or experienced the following conditions or injuries:

  • Burns
  • Congenital (present at birth) and acquired hand conditions
  • Craniofacial disorders
  • Developmental delays
  • Learning disabilities
  • Neuromuscular conditions
  • Pervasive developmental disability

At Children’s, our occupational therapists offer a variety of special services to help make sure your child receives the best care possible while recovering from an illness or injury, including:

Aquatic therapy offers an alternative environment for occupational and physical therapy that provides gentle resistance and buoyancy, making movement more comfortable. The warm-water environment relaxes muscles and reduces pain, as well as helping your child improve mobility, coordination, strength, endurance, balance and self-confidence.

Children’s aquatic therapy services are available at Scottish Rite Hospital and at the Robert D. Fowler YMCA in Gwinnett County.

Our pediatric-trained therapists and orthopedic hand surgeons provide a wide range of treatment options and continuous care to make it easier for our patients to use their shoulders, arms, forearms, wrists and hands.

Our pediatric occupational therapists provide constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) for children with limited use of one arm and hand. The goal of therapy is to improve function and strength on the weaker side by restraining the stronger side.

Our therapists place a temporary cast or sling to restrain the better functioning arm and hand, which means your child must use their weaker arm and hand. This retrains the brain and helps your child learn new ways to move and function.

Pediatric occupational and physical therapists provide task-oriented strengthening therapy for children with a condition or injury that affects their ability to perform daily tasks. Therapy consists of exercises that help train your child’s brain and teach them how to perform tasks.

Therapy is different for every child and depends on the child’s physical ability and needs. To help make sure we meet the needs of you and your child, we conduct a caregiver consultation and therapist assessment to identify goals and design a therapy program.

Examples of realistic goals may include:

  • Carrying a cup without spilling.
  • Walking to the bus stop with a backpack without assistance.
  • Climbing stairs.
  • Tying shoelaces.

Pediatric audiologists and therapists at Children’s also provide vestibular rehabilitation services, including comprehensive evaluation and treatment, to identify and relieve symptoms of ear-related balance problems.