Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy
What to Expect

What to Expect from Your First Appointment with OT/PT

Your child’s first visit with an occupational therapist (OT) or physical therapist (PT) will include a thorough evaluation. This will help the OT/PT develop an individualized treatment plan for your child.

Appointments are available at Cincinnati Children’s Burnet Campus, Liberty Campus and neighborhood locations throughout Greater Cincinnati. Our team works hard to create a fun, motivating environment for children of all ages. We incorporate play and movement to keep kids engaged in the therapy process. Visits usually last 45-60 minutes.

Before the Visit

You’ll need a referral from your provider (physician, physician assistant or advanced practice nurse) before scheduling your child’s OT or PT appointment. Learn more about the referral process and making an appointment.

  • After receiving the referral, a representative from OT/PT will contact you by phone to schedule the appointment.
  • You’ll receive an appointment confirmation from MyChart or by email. The confirmation contains information about where to check in when you arrive for your appointment.
  • If your child has been evaluated by an OT or PT at another institution, our team will want to review the summary report. You can bring the report with you, or we can request it from the institution.

On the Day of the Visit

Before You Arrive

  • Your child should wear loose, comfortable clothing and sneakers, if possible.
  • If your child uses braces, splints or assistive devices for walking, be sure to bring them.
  • Plan to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled appointment. Allow about 10 minutes to park and walk to our location.
  • If you are running late, contact us. We may need to reschedule if you check in more than 15 minutes after the appointment start time.

During the Visit

During the initial appointment, your child’s OT/PT will talk to you and your child about:

  • Your child’s health history (including medical history, past surgeries and other details)
  • The functional limitations your child is facing

Depending on your child’s needs, the OT or PT may measure their range of motion, muscle strength, endurance, etc.

Your Child’s Individualized Care Plan

The evaluation helps the OT or PT develop an initial plan for therapy. At the end of the session, the OT/PT will:

  • Share their observations about your child’s abilities and needs
  • Recommend a course of action, which could include additional therapy sessions, exercises to do at home and other interventions
  • Discuss next steps and explain how to schedule follow-up appointments
  • Refer you to other providers for additional care, if needed

The therapist will summarize all of this information in written form and post it to your child’s MyChart account within six days of the first appointment. The summary may include additional instructions about exercises and other therapy activities your child should do at home.

If the OT/PT Visit is Part of a Multidisciplinary Care Clinic

Some OT/PT evaluations are part of a physician-led multidisciplinary care clinic. In this situation, the OT/PT will still share their initial treatment recommendations with you at the end of the evaluation. Later, they will talk to the entire care team about their observations and recommendations. The team will develop a unified treatment plan that includes all aspects of your child’s care. The lead physician’s office will follow up with you to talk about this plan and your next steps.

Your Partner in Care

It’s natural for you and your child to feel a bit apprehensive before the first OT/PT visit, especially if you are new to OT/PT. We want to assure you that your family is in the best of hands.

Our staff of well-trained clinical experts in OT and PT are friendly, experienced and committed to using the most current science in developing an individualized care plan for your child. Your child’s OT/PT will:

  • Involve you and your child in care plan decisions every step of the way
  • Connect with your child personally and make therapy sessions as enjoyable as possible
  • Listen to your specific concerns
  • Work closely with other members of your child’s care team to help your child reach their full potential

Frequently Asked Questions

Your child’s physician has requested an evaluation to determine if therapy services could improve her abilities. Occupational therapy and physical therapy make it possible for children with injuries or physical and developmental challenges to function as well as possible in day-to-day activities and live their lives to the fullest potential. 

Depending on the location, treatment times are available as early as 7 am and as late as 7 pm. Some locations also offer appointments on Saturday. Keep in mind that therapy services are in high demand during peak hours after school. The more flexible you can be regarding location and times, the sooner your child can receive services. 

It is your responsibility to determine how you or your insurer will pay for treatment services before your child starts therapy. Occupational therapy and physical therapy are generally covered under most insurance policies. At the time of your appointment, you will be asked to pay any co-payment required by your insurance.

If you have questions about insurance coverage or payment for services, you may call one of our Financial Service Representatives at 513-636-4651, option 2.

Learn more about insurance coverage or payment for services

Please ask before taking a photo or recording. You may be asked to wait until a task is finished, or to assure that no other patients are in the area, or to allow the therapist to step out of the picture.  Photos and videos of therapy should not be posted on social media sites such as Facebook.
Let your child’s therapist know before the session begins if you would like to speak privately so that she can plan the session accordingly. If your child cannot be left alone, consider bringing another adult or older child with you. You may also wish to discuss options such as scheduling a phone call, or communicating with the therapist via secure email.

Yes, we require a written referral by a physician or certified nurse practitioner to begin therapy. This helps us coordinate our services with the care plan laid out by your child’s primary care or specialty care physician. Even if another health professional recommends therapy services for your child, we must have a written referral from your primary / specialty care physician or nurse practitioner before we can schedule an appointment. Referrals can be written on a prescription form or the physician’s letterhead. Ask your physician to fax the referral to 513-803-1111. 

In the initial evaluation, the therapist will perform an assessment to identify how we can best meet your and your physician’s concerns. The therapist will then discuss the results with you and review the recommended treatment options. If the therapist recommends physical or occupational therapy, you will be given instructions about how to schedule appointments. We will also communicate our findings with your child’s referring physician or certified nurse practitioner. 

We know that your child may feel anxious about their visit, so we will do everything we can to help him to feel comfortable from the moment he arrives. Our therapy areas are child-friendly--bright, colorful spaces filled with toys and games. If your child is young, telling him that there will be “no ouchies” or “boo boos” may help. For an older child, you might explain that there will be no shots. 

A parent or legal guardian must be present at your child’s initial therapy evaluation; this is important so that you can give consent for your child to be treated. Being present at the evaluation will give the therapist a chance to speak with you about your concerns and goals for your child. 

The most important thing you can do for your child is to make sure a parent or caregiver attends every therapy session, even if your child is a teenager. One of our primary goals is to give your entire family skills and knowledge to help your child gain the greatest benefit from therapy.

If absolutely necessary, teens may attend their therapy sessions without their legal guardian present, provided they are responsible young adults and the therapist is in agreement. 

Your child and you will benefit most from the therapy session if you are not distracted by caring for other children. If you must bring other children, we ask that you supervise them closely at all times. Please bring toys or books to keep them busy; they are not permitted to play on therapy equipment or with toys used in therapy.

The treating therapist and the evaluating therapist may or may not be the same person. This depends on your availability for scheduling, your location preference and the evaluating therapist’s schedule.  

The purpose of therapy is to help your child become as independent as possible in normal daily activities. The time varies depending on your child’s condition, her age and a wide range of other factors. Soon after your child starts therapy, your therapist will talk with you about how many therapy sessions she will need, and for how long therapy will last. 

Guidelines for determining frequency of therapy service are used to help decide how often and for how long your child could benefit from therapy. We believe in ongoing communication with a child’s family, physicians and teachers to ensure appropriate treatment.  Our therapists will work with you to develop the most appropriate and effective plan of care for your child. From the day your child enters therapy, our primary goal is to help your entire family develop the skills and knowledge to help your child continue to thrive after the course of treatment ends.

We offer outpatient occupational therapy and physical therapy services at most Cincinnati Children’s locations throughout Greater Cincinnati.

See a list of these locations.

Some specialty services may not be offered at all locations. For further details, consult the Programs and Services directory or you can ask the evaluating therapist or a member of our scheduling team.