Pediatric Services

Pediatric Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

At NewYork-Presbyterian, our pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists have expertise in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of a wide range of injuries and disorders that affect children's movement and function, including complex congenital and childhood physical impairments. We work closely with children of all ages and their families to develop a customized, team-based treatment approach that meets each child's unique needs and achieves outcomes that improve their mobility, recreational play, social engagement, and quality of life.

About Our Program

At NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children's Hospital, pediatric physical medicine, and rehabilitation specialists, also called physiatrists, treat children with a wide range of congenital (from birth) and acquired physical impairments due to illness or injury. Our special programs and treatments help young patients grow into adulthood with greater functioning, independence, and confidence.

Working in multidisciplinary teams, our rehabilitation experts collaborate with nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists to establish a comprehensive treatment plan to achieve each child's best possible outcome. Our teams offer a variety of treatments, including physical therapy, biofeedback, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

We take an advanced, comprehensive approach to complex conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, traumatic injuries to the brain and spinal cord, pediatric stroke, and neuropathies such as Guillain-Barre syndrome. Innovative treatments include botulinum toxin injections to manage drooling and spasticity and intrathecal baclofen pump to deliver medication directly to the spinal cord. 

We are also known for our expertise in treating dystonia (uncontrollable muscle spasms), in serial casting and orthotics, adaptive equipment, and noninvasive pulmonary rehabilitation for neuromuscular disorders.

With early and effective physical rehabilitation, we can maximize a child's general ability to function and, in many cases, can prevent or delay the need for surgery. Because most of our young patients require care over many years, we tailor treatments to their evolving needs.

Conditions We Treat

  • Abnormal gait
  • Brain injury or stroke
  • Brachial plexus Injury
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Chronic pain
  • Communication, feeding, and oromotor (sucking, chewing or swallowing) difficulty
  • Drooling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Muscle weakness and fatigue 
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Nerve injury or conditions such as multiple sclerosis
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Play and fine motor skills
  • Spasticity
  • Spina Bifida and other spinal cord conditions
  • Spinal cord injury 
  • Torticollis
  • Traumatic injuries to the brain and spinal cord
  • Walking and mobility conditions

Our Approach to Care

A Multidisciplinary Team Approach

Our pediatric rehabilitation medicine specialists work closely with other medical subspecialists, physical, occupational, and speech therapists, orthoptists, psychologists, and social workers to ensure each child receives the comprehensive care they deserve.

Partnership with Patient and Family

We develop a partnership with the patient and their family to establish a comprehensive treatment plan to achieve the best possible outcomes for the child to improve mobility, recreational play, social engagement, and quality of life. After a careful physician evaluation, our teams prioritize the desires and goals of the family and patient to provide the best treatment plan.

We are passionate about educating our patients and families. We empower you with information, exercises, and other tools to help manage and improve overall health and make confident care decisions.

Treatments We Offer

At NewYork-Presbyterian, each patient receives a careful examination to understand the unique condition deeply. Next, our team develops a personalized treatment plan that may include medications to alleviate pain or relax muscles, physical therapy, interventional therapy, orthotics, bracing, occupational therapy, or speech and language therapy.

Innovative Programs and Services

Brain Injury Program

Working with a pediatric trauma team, we follow children with brain injury as they emerge from the intensive care unit. Our goal is to promote their recovery, minimize complications, and bring them back to their baseline function. Our rehabilitation program helps patients with mild to severe brain injury. We also advocate for children with head trauma by educating their families, caregivers, health care staff, and schools about their special needs.

Casting Program

Our experts have created a casting program designed to improve the flexibility of the joints in children with joint contractures or severe tightness. Casting can be done in conjunction with botulinum toxin injections to tight muscles. This approach increases a patient's tolerance to the cast.

Drooling Management

Our rehabilitation experts have a unique program to address excessive drooling, often a cause of aspiration pneumonia and social embarrassment for children. Our treatment relies on ultrasound to guide botulinum toxin injections of the salivary glands. This procedure can be done with local or general anesthesia. We have found that it reduces hospital admissions from pneumonia, boosts children's confidence in social situations, and improves the quality of life for families.

Cerebral Palsy and Robotic Research

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center's rehabilitation experts collaborate with Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery, and Columbia Teachers College ,to better serve the needs of children with cerebral palsy. They have developed robotic hand therapy to improve the arm function of children with paralysis and are currently exploring robotic therapy with TPAD (tethered pelvic assist device) for ambulatory children with cerebral palsy. This research will help clinicians care for children with cerebral palsy who suffer from muscle weakness and balance problems.

Innovations in Spasticity Management

At NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, rehabilitation specialists are using a new technique called single event multi-level chemoneurolysis (SEMLC) to treat children with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, pediatric stroke, and spinal cord injury. SEMLC corrects all existing soft tissue and bone problems in one operation with just one rehabilitation phase. 

To control stiff or spastic muscles, they also use botulinum toxin injections and alcohol motor nerve injections, as well as an intrathecal baclofen pump (ITB) in conjunction with neurosurgery to deliver medication directly to the spinal cord.

This approach treats a larger number of stiff muscles and succeeds at decreasing pain and delaying orthopedic surgeries while improving and maintaining a child's ability to function. We tailor a therapy plan to each child and work closely with orthopedic surgeons to find the best time for surgical intervention and to avoid repetitive surgeries.

In collaboration with pediatric neurosurgeons, rehabilitation specialists also treat spasticity with selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), an innovative surgery on the lower spinal cord that entails identifying certain nerves via electrical stimulation, then separating and cutting them from the spinal cord.

Why Choose Us

Nationally Ranked Children's Hospitals

Both NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children's Hospital are among the nation's leading centers for the diagnosis and treatment of childhood diseases. They are major referral centers for complex and rare disorders in infants, children, and adolescents.

Pioneers in an Emerging Field

Our pediatric rehabilitation specialists are pioneers in caring for children with neuromuscular and musculoskeletal conditions. Our physicians helped establish the current guidelines in management of spasticity and excessive drooling, and have authored scientific articles on these topics in peer-reviewed journals.

At the Forefront of Research

At NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, pediatric rehabilitation specialists develop new therapies for children with disabling illnesses. Most of their research addresses the motor difficulties of children with cerebral palsy. They are currently studying robotic therapy for children with cerebral palsy, treatments for spasticity, and new devices to provide gait training for our young patients suffering from cerebral palsy, stroke, or other brain injuries. 

Access to World-Class Pediatric Specialists

NewYork-Presbyterian has nationally renowned specialists in every field of pediatrics, so your child will have access to all the various pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists they may need.  This will ensure that of your child's medical needs can be addressed under one roof.

Contact us

Call for an Appointment

NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital

(646) 697-8479 Speech-Language Pathology, Occupational and Physical Therapy

NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children's Hospital

(212) 746-1550 Speech-Language Pathology, Occupational and Physical Therapy