Physical Therapy for Children

Pediatric physical therapists help children develop or regain the skills they need to move their bodies. This can include helping babies crawl or teaching children with brain injuries how to walk again.

Physical therapists from Rusk Rehabilitation use play, exercise, strength training, and other therapies to help children improve balance, coordination, motion, and flexibility. Services for children are provided through Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

Pediatric Physical Therapy Programs

In addition to the programs listed below, we offer an Aquatic Therapy program and rehabilitation for children who have experienced concussion in partnership with our occupational therapy program.

A physician referral is required for most of our programs. To make an appointment or for more information about any of our pediatric services, please call our scheduling department at 212-598-6248.

Muscular Torticollis Therapy

Children with torticollis keep their head turned or tilted to one side. This can lead to head and facial deformities, developmental delays, and weakness on one side of the body. Our physical therapists help children with torticollis reach age-appropriate developmental milestones and improve the symmetry and strength of their neck muscles.

The earlier children begin therapy, the fewer sessions they need and the better the result. For children with congenital muscular torticollis (CMT), we recommend beginning before 3 months of age.

Post-Injury Therapy and Prevention for Young Athletes

Our physical therapists help children and teens who have experienced a sports-related injury regain skills and safely return to the game. The types of therapy we provide take into account your child’s growth and development, and include core strengthening and stabilizing exercises, balance training, and strength training. We also educate your child and family on ways to prevent re-injury.

Robot-Assisted Walking Therapy

Our Robot-Assisted Walking Therapy Program uses the Lokomat®, a harness system that allows for body weight–supported treadmill training, to help children regain or improve their ability to walk.

The Lokomat® guides children through a natural walking pattern. The harness suspends your child over a treadmill, while robotic legs are strapped to your child’s own legs. A computer controls the pace of the treadmill and measures the child’s progress, while at least one physical therapist oversees the session. Therapists gradually decrease the amount of assistance provided by the treadmill, which leads to improved walking pattern, endurance, speed, and gross motor performance. The Lokomat® eases your child’s fear of falling, while real-time feedback helps your child feel motivated and delivers a sense of accomplishment.

Children with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, and brain injury are those most commonly treated with the Lokomat®. This program is for children who can follow commands, initiate steps, hold their heads up, and actively participate safely. We do a mandatory telephone screening with potential participants. Based on that screening, we may schedule an evaluation to further assess whether the Robot-Assisted Walking Therapy Program is appropriate for your child. Your child and family must agree to 21 sessions within a 6- to 9-week period.

Schroth Therapy Program

The Schroth Therapy Program helps children diagnosed with juvenile and adolescent idiopathic scoliosis move the spine in a way that maintains alignment and balance, without putting undue stress on the spine. The program also improves body image, posture, and body awareness. We educate your child and family about the spine, the specific curve type that your child has, and bracing if needed. We also provide physiotherapy scoliosis-specific exercises (PSSE) that target your child’s particular scoliotic curve or pattern.

Serial Casting for Idiopathic Toe Walking

Children with idiopathic toe walking do not set their heels down while walking, for reasons that do not have an underlying medical cause. If left untreated, toe walking can cause muscle tightness, limited range of motion, and improper joint alignment. When physical therapy, weight training, splinting, and orthotics are not enough to improve this behavior, your child’s physical therapist might recommend serial casting.

Serial casting involves placing a cast on one or both of your child’s ankles. The cast is changed weekly, until the ankle achieves the range of motion necessary for your child to walk properly.

Vestibular Therapy

Vestibular therapy is an exercise-based program for children with vestibular conditions or concussion that have caused injury to the inner ear or brain. Gaze stabilization, balance training, and physical exercises can help relieve symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, headache, and balance impairments. Early intervention by specially trained therapists can aid in recovery.