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Rehabilitation services

Rehabilitation services

The rehabilitation department at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Erie provides evidence-based, individualized physical, occupational and speech therapy by skilled, compassionate professionals in a collaborative, positive and supportive environment. Working closely with medical staff, our experienced therapists use and help develop the most advanced knowledge in rehabilitation techniques to ensure they always provide evidence-based practice. In addition to treating common conditions, our therapists are also versed in many specialty diagnoses that often are not treated by traditional outpatient clinics. All children, with or without special needs, require experience in life to develop physically, socially and mentally. Our full complement of therapy services are designed with this goal in mind: Allow children to experience life to the fullest so they develop into successful and productive young adults who are ready to take on the world. 

Physical therapy

Physical therapy (PT) helps children improve their level of function so they achieve maximum levels of independence. Whether a child can or cannot walk, our physical therapists work to enhance mobility to improve participation with siblings or peers, whether at home, in school or on the playground. Our physical therapy programs are tailored for specific needs and goals, such as improving an infant’s ability to interact with their environment, helping a patient learn to walk for the first time, enhancing a patient's mobility, or addressing pain and weakness with or without injury, all to allow the child to focus on just being a child. Our physical therapists are leaders in techniques and therapies used to treat common conditions and some of the rarest as well. Each patient’s program is tailored to his or her individual needs and abilities. Family involvement is highly encouraged and crucial for long-term successful outcomes.

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapists (OTs) work with children to help them gain independence and promote development of fine motor skills, sensory motor skills and visual motor skills that are needed to engage in typical childhood activities. The activities may be related to self-care, improved hand skills, play, school or recreation. By way of occupational therapy, children can increase their participation in meaningful activities, and promote and maintain their health and well-being. In addition, our OTs provide skilled evaluation and treatment of a variety of feeding issues in children of all ages. Whether related to texture issues or difficulty controlling the muscles of the mouth, our OTs work to introduce children to the wonderful world of food and nutrition. They may issue specialized or adaptive equipment to increase a child’s independence so that they can better navigate whatever environment they encounter. Our OTs are also skilled in assessing and rehabilitating children born with rare and/or common conditions that affect their participation, as well as rehabilitating children that have been injured or had surgery. The occupational therapist may make customized braces/splints to assist with positioning, aid specific activities or to protect a child’s extremity after a surgical procedure. Depending on the condition or injury, our OTs may employ sensory integration therapy, visual motor integration or other techniques and interventions to address functional challenges.

Speech language pathology

Speech language pathologists, often referred to as speech therapists, work to promote improved communication and feeding/swallowing. Our speech therapists target all aspects of childhood and adolescent communication including sound production, understanding of language, use of language, alternate means of communication, social language, memory and cognitive components, as well as components of feeding. Speech therapists use standard based evaluations, as well as clinical observation, to create developmentally appropriate, as well as child specific, therapy plans to help improve any area of speech, language and or feeding where deficits are found. Working with children of all ages, speech therapists look to improve such facets of communication to increase function, social comfort and understanding which, in turn, maximizes a child’s potential and life as a whole. As with our physical and occupational therapy programs, our speech language pathology program has been developed to allow for treatment of common conditions and many of the more rare diagnoses as well. Our therapists have become proficient in rehabilitating many of these uncommon conditions by focusing on these areas of specialty and staying on top of cutting-edge treatment approaches.

There are many aspects of these three therapies that overlap depending on the child’s diagnosis. Our patients often have multiple goals and these are best treated with an integrated and collaborative approach, but the overall goals are the same: shorten recovery time, increase the effectiveness of treatment, improve function and improve the overall quality of life of our patients.