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Rehabilitation

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapists (PTs) are health care professionals who provide assessment and treatment to individuals with movement dysfunction related to musculoskeletal, neurological and/or cardiorespiratory conditions.  Their focus is to optimize movement potential and function, promote health, and educate the patient and family regarding their rehabilitation needs. They use a variety of assessment and treatment techniques including exercise prescription, movement facilitation, therapeutic modalities, education and health promotion, as well as other forms of hands on therapy. 

Physiotherapy patient

PTs at SickKids work in an acute care environment where children's multi-system medical problems and functional outcomes are complex. Due to acuity our PTs work in a fast-paced, constantly changing environment and have highly adaptable decision making-skills.  The role of the PT in each program is unique and treatments are based on the needs of the child and family. PTs work very closely with other rehabilitation professionals such as Occupational Therapists, and the rest of the interprofessional team.  The family is also an essential part of the child's health care team and are often involved in physiotehrapy treatment programs e.g. exercise programs or development.  

The physiotherapy treatment a child receives will evolve as they progress through the acute phase of treatment at SickKids, attend a rehabilitation centre, transition home and/or receive community physiotherapy services. The PT continues to collaborate with all members of the SickKids interprofessional team to ensure a seamless transition of care to community rehabilitation services. All PTs at SickKids are registered with the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario.

What we do

Acute Care/inpatient

  • inpatient physiotherapy
    Neuro-development:  A child may be referred to physiotherapy for an assessment of their neurodevelopmental skills. This will include an overall look at the child’s development with an emphasis on gross motor skills, movement patterns and muscle tone. Based on the initial assessment the PT will determine whether treatment is required. This may include referral to physiotherapy services in the community and/or treatment during prolonged hospitalizations. 
  • Mobility and Gross Motor Function: Post operatively, during acute or chronic illness or injury, or during prolonged hospitalizations, physiotherapy may assist with maximizing a child’s functional abilities. A PT may provide exercise programs and therapies aimed at improving functional mobility, strength and endurance.
  • Cardio-respiratory  PT:  Physiotherapy can help to maximize a child’s cardio-respiratory function during acute illness (eg: pneumonia) or chronic illnesses (eg: cystic fibrosis) with techniques such as airway clearance and exercise prescription.
  • Seating and Assistive Devices: Physiotherapy may assess and coordinate proper wheelchair seating, as well as mobility aids such as walkers, crutches etc.
  • Discharge planning and recommendations: when a child is ready to leave SickKids, PT will help make referrals to local community therapists (eg: infant and child development programs, children’s treatment centres, in home therapy or school health).

Outpatient

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The primary focus of PT at SickKids is in the assessment and treatment of acute events resulting in movement dysfunction. There are limited circumstances in which outpatient physiotherapy services are provided at SickKids. This occurs through specialized clinics by physician referral when these physiotherapy services are not available in the community.  

Outpatient physiotherapy services may be available in the following circumstances:

  • Physiotherapy referrals are made by a physician or nurse practitioner. See our referral site for more information regarding this process.
  • Consultation in clinics – PTs may be available for consultation in specialized clinics. Consultation may include assessment of needs, initiation of treatment and referrals to community providers.
  • Assessment and Treatment in the SickKids Rehabilitation Department – a child may be referred by a family doctor/ pediatrician for a physiotherapy assessment. After an assessment the PT will determine the child’s physiotherapy needs and community resources.