The Rehabilitation Department at SickKids is one of the leading providers of acute paediatric rehabilitation care in North America and our primary aim is to deliver excellent, equitable, and specialized pediatric rehabilitation services.
Our team includes specialized clinical staff in Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy and a dedicated administrative support team. The Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Rehabilitation Therapy Assistants, Occupational Therapy Practitioners and Physiotherapy Practitioners provide acute rehabilitative care for children and families throughout SickKids with over 35,000 patient care visits occurring yearly, either admitted to SickKids or attending specialized outpatient services. The team partners with children and their families to help kids achieve their best.
Where care meets education and research
The Department of Rehabilitation is dedicated to the highest quality of care, innovative educational programs and the advancement of evidence-based practice and clinical research. Many of our staff are nationally and internationally recognized experts in acute rehabilitation and all staff participate in post graduate clinical courses, degrees and/or designations in order to provide high quality, safe rehabilitative care.
Our practice is guided by the principles of child and family centred care, professional collaboration and quality. All team members strive to be sensitive to the diverse needs of others by practicing with integrity, compassion and leadership.
I am honoured to lead this exceptional team and hope that you will find the information on our website helpful.
What we do
The Department of Rehabilitation strives to deliver excellent, equitable, and inclusive specialized acute paediatric rehabilitation services.
PTs at SickKids work in an acute care environment where children's multi-system medical problems and functional outcomes are complex. Due to this level of acuity, the role of the PT in each program is unique.
The family and child are central to the health care team. PTs partner with children and their families to identify specific goals and strengths to develop plans of care and optimize outcomes.
The PT collaborates with all members of the SickKids interprofessional team as well as our local partners to strive for a seamless transition of care to community rehabilitation services.
Read about our in-patient and out-patient Physiotherapy services below. For healthcare professionals, Learn how to refer a patient.
Physiotherapy may be referred for an assessment and/or treatment when a child has had an interruption, or deterioration in functional skills or developmental progress related to an acute situational clinical deterioration. Our areas of focus are detailed below.
- Neuro-development: A holistic approach to identify a child’s potential and existing risk for developmental delay with an emphasis on gross motor skills, movement patterns and muscle tone. Based on the initial assessment, and in collaboration with the patient/caregiver, the PT will determine the intervention required. This may include education, referral to physiotherapy services in the community and/or treatment during prolonged hospitalizations.
- Mobility and Gross Motor Function: Physiotherapy may assist with maximizing a child’s functional abilities. A PT may provide education, exercise programs and therapies aimed at improving functional mobility, strength and endurance.
- Cardio-respiratory PT: Physiotherapy may 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 from hospital: When a child is ready to leave SickKids, PT works with the interdisciplinary team to help find and access local resources (eg: infant and child development programs, children’s treatment centres, in home therapy or school health).
The primary focus of PT at SickKids is in the assessment and treatment of acute events resulting in movement dysfunction. Outpatient physiotherapy at SickKids plays a vital role in supporting and informing medical and surgical management, optimizing surgical outcomes, and providing essential education to improve safety throughout the acute phase of care.
There are specific circumstances in which outpatient physiotherapy services are provided at SickKids. This occurs through specialized clinics by physician or nurse practitioner referral when these physiotherapy services are not available in the community.
Outpatient physiotherapy services may be available in the following circumstances:
- Consultation in clinics – PTs may be available for consultation in specialized clinics. Consultation may include assessment of needs, initiation of treatment and referrals to local 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.
Rehabilitation resources on AboutKidsHealth
Occupational Therapist (OT) and Physiotherapist (PT) Practitioners
OT and PT Practitioners are advanced practice Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists at SickKids. They provide leadership and promote excellence in paediatric, family-centred occupational therapy and physiotherapy through the five main role components of expert practice, education, consultation, research, and leader/change agent.
They integrate clinical skills and knowledge within a broad scope of advanced practice. OT and PT Practitioners assume a leadership role in influencing clinical practice and provision of care. They provide comprehensive health care to specific patient populations, emphasizing health promotion and disease prevention.
Rehabilitation Therapy Assistants
Rehabilitation Therapy Assistants (RTAs), also referred to as Occupational Therapist Assistants (OTA) or Physiotherapist Assistants (PTA), are health professionals that work under the direction and supervision of an Occupational Therapist and/or Physiotherapist. Their focus is to carry out treatment plans designed by PTs and OTs. At SickKids, RTAs provide direct treatment to assist patients with physical and developmental skills.
Physiotherapists and Rehabilitation Therapy Assistants at SickKids work in collaboration with most Specialty Clinics throughout the hospital in both outpatient and inpatient settings.
The Department of Rehabilitation Services PTs are actively involved in research throughout SickKids and The University of Toronto. Specific areas of research are outlined in individual PT biographies on our Staff Directory.
University of Toronto
PT students: The Rehabilitation Department is committed to supporting the education and clinical mentorship of PT students. The Rehabilitation Department has an agreement with the University of Toronto and provides clinical internships for its students. Physiotherapists at SickKids hold status appointments at the University of Toronto. They participate in lecturing, clinical workshops, examination processes, and the development of the paediatric unit at the university.
For more details, visit the University of Toronto’s Physical Therapy portal.
Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant (RTA) students: Rehabilitation therapy assistant placements are also provided for students from Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.
For more details, visit Humber’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellness.
Please connect with the Rehabilitation Clinical Manager about any research inquiries related to use of rehabilitation resources or rehabilitation space. For Inquiries to organize international learning opportunities please contact the SickKids Learning Institute.