Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy
OTPT | Specialized Programs

Specialized Programs

As one of the largest and most comprehensive pediatric therapy divisions in the nation, we offer a variety of programs and services and a multidisciplinary approach that ensures that children reach their individual potential.
Aquatic therapy, combines the benefits of physical therapy with the advantages of warm water exercise. Warm water allows children to progress and accomplish much more than they can in land-based therapy. Warm water lessens the effects of gravity and reduces body weight up to 90 percent. It encourages relaxation and reduces the risk of overexertion. Aquatic therapy can be provided as the sole treatment option or can be combined with other therapy approaches. Individual and group sessions are available. Learn more about aquatic therapy treatment.

Children experiencing neuromotor dysfunction may demonstrate a wide range of clinical characteristics. These can include changes in muscle tone, muscle length, muscle performance, loss of balance, and corresponding difficulty with movement. In order to comprehensively care for these patients, we offer a neuromotor program with a variety of therapy options:

Early intervention for babies with or at risk for Cerebral Palsy: Research tells us that babies diagnosed with or who are at high-risk for cerebral palsy benefit from participation in active, task-specific motor interventions. Successful motor interventions include child-initiated movement, environmental enrichment, and task-specific training. These treatments have shown positive results with older children with cerebral palsy so similar treatments used with younger infants may have an even better change during their early development. Research tells us that therapies should begin as early as possible to get the best result. Providing early, task-specific treatment at a young age could reduce a baby’s motor delays and support a higher level of independence in everyday activities and improved quality of life. Learn more about the Cerebral Palsy Program.

Functional Movement in Infants: When questions come up about a baby’s motor skills, our therapists can provide valuable information regarding risk for abnormal neuromotor outcomes including cerebral palsy. Our therapists are trained in the administration of the General Movements Assessment, Test of Infant Motor Performance, and Hammersmith Infant Neurological Examination. We share the information from these evaluations with the baby’s care team and the information helps guide the baby’s treatment plan. Early identification of motor delay as well as beginning therapies early are important to promote optimal development for each baby. Our therapists work with the family to identify meaningful goals that guide the episode of therapy.

Constraint Induced Movement Therapy/Bimanual Integrated therapy (CIMT/BIT): CIMT and BIT are interventions that have ample evidence to support their effectiveness for children with hemiplegia. Children who participate begin with wearing a constraint on their uninvolved upper extremity (CIMT). Then they end with therapy using both limbs (BIT) to promote the functional use of both limbs. Learn more about Constraint Induced Movement Therapy/Bimanual Integrated therapy (CIMT/BIT).

Hippotherapy: This specialized program is offered in conjunction with Cincinnati Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship. The horse’s movements are used to facilitate active responses and child engagement in order to improve functional outcomes of the child. Research indicates that hippotherapy can be used to improve postural control and balance, self-competence and functional performance. Learn more about Hippotherapy.

Motion Analysis: Patients with diagnoses such as cerebral palsy, joint hypermobility, or muscular dystrophy may benefit from an analysis of their biomechanics (oxygen consumption, joint range of motion, load placed on joints, muscle activity, and joint strength) during a range of activities. These activities include walking, reaching, sitting, and standing. The results of a motion analysis are reviewed by a multidisciplinary team of therapists, engineers, and physicians. The team works together to establish a surgical or therapy plan of care. Learn more about the Motion Analysis lab.

Neuroprosthesis Clinic: A neuroprosthetic is an alternative approach to traditional orthotics and bracing. Electrical stimulation and accelerometry are used to automatically create a muscle contraction during functional tasks like walking or reaching. This is a new and advanced approach for the management of muscle inactivity from disorders like cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, or traumatic brain injury. Learn more about Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) / Neuroprosthetics.

Orthotic Management: Splints or orthotics may be recommended when a child needs to maintain or improve range of motion in order to prevent a deformity, or when a child requires external support or immobilization. In OT/PT the splints used can be ready-made or they may custom built for a child. A schedule for wearing and caring for the splint, and exercises to perform while wearing it, will be established by the child’s therapist. Learn more about upper extremity and lower extremity neuromotor treatment.

Post-surgical rehabilitation protocols for SEMLs, SDR: Therapy is a required component of recovery after surgical procedures like single-event, multilevel surgery (SEML) or a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR). Post -surgical therapy occurs at a high frequency and typically continues over the course of a 12 month period. Our team is leading the US in the development of best practice therapy protocols this area. Learn more about Post-surgical rehabilitation protocols for SEMLs, SDR.

Serial Casting: Serial casting is a specialized technique used together with therapy to provide increased range of motion of a joint(s). Using an evidence-based approach, our six-week program for casting of the lower or upper extremities aims to improve range of motion in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy or other injuries impacting joint movement of the ankle, knee, hand and/or wrist. Our family-friendly approach means we stay in close contact with parents/caregivers to assure the process is progressing as planned, and to maintain optimal comfort for the patient. Learn more about Serial Casting.

Upper Extremity Neuromotor Training/Lower Extremity Locomotor Training: These programs highlight our center for advanced technology. We use state of the art rehabilitation technologies to target motor function in order to improve functional outcomes for our patients. Examples include Armeo, Amadeo, Pablo, Rejoyce, H200, Lokomat, Vector, and Tymo. Children enjoy interactive virtual environments and robotics during therapy visits. The upper extremity program targets improved use of the upper extremity to enhance functional performance. Our locomotor program is designed to improve mobility in patients. Learn more about Upper Extremity Neuromotor Training/Lower Extremity Locomotor Training.

Vision Assessment: Visual impairments require the expertise of therapists who can complete the diagnostic test, Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) Range. This tool examines behavioral characteristics, evaluates visual skill, and assists therapists in identifying strategies for improved functional vision at home and in the community. Learn more about Vision Assessment.

Cincinnati Children’s offers an evidence based outpatient therapy program that is proven to have excellent therapy outcomes for infants diagnosed with congenital muscular torticollis (CMT). When a child is diagnosed with CMT, early detection and intervention is critical. Occupational therapy (OT) and Physical therapy (PT) provides evaluation, education, and treatment proven to maximize outcomes.
Our occupational therapists that specialize in hand therapy have extensive training in rehabilitation of conditions that affect the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand. Therapists are skilled in scar management, casting, splinting, and use of modalities to treat upper extremity injuries. The therapist will establish exercise programs and work collaboratively with your family and the referring physician to determine the best treatment plan for your child. Learn more about hand therapy treatment.
The Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit is a CARF accredited program serving children, adolescents and young adults, ages 1 to 21. Our 12-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit is located within Cincinnati Children's and has access to all of its services and programs. Our team of experts customizes treatment plans based on your child’s ongoing assessments, predicted outcomes and medical and rehabilitation goals. Our Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit has two therapy gym areas with many state-of-the-art, advanced technologies such as virtual motion and robotic-assisted systems to aid in accelerating recovery of motor and cognitive skills. Working together, our goal is to minimize the impact of your child’s disability and maximize participation in daily activities.
Cincinnati Children’s Rehabilitation Program is the city’s first full-service outpatient rehabilitation center focused solely on pediatrics. Many of our staff have specialty training and certification in traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury which are common conditions treated on the rehabilitation unit. Our outpatient rehabilitation program provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary system of rehabilitative care. That care is delivered in the convenience of a single facility. We have designed a state-of-the-art program especially for the child, adolescent or young adult who requires a more intensive therapy and specialized rehabilitation service. Learn more about outpatient rehabilitation treatment.

The Thrive Program offers family-centered, group based programming to adolescents with intellectual and developmental Disabilities ages 14 and up. Under the supervision and directions of skills occupational therapists participants will learn specific life skills to help individuals thrive as they transition to adulthood. Possible focus areas may include:

  • Self Care
  • Cooking
  • Health Management
  • Healthy and Safe relationships

Benefits of participation

Therapeutic treatment focused on skill development in self-care. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to focus on social interaction skills with peers. Development of these skills help to prepare participants for transition to adulthood.

Who can participate?

Adolescents with development disabilities age 14+ who are interested in group intervention on topics related to self-care. The group will be limited to 6 participants. Requirements for participation include:

  • Have been seen for an OT evaluation within the past 6 months or complete an OT evaluation before group
  • Have an established method of communication including receptive and expressive capabilities
  • Able to follow multi-step directions
  • Complete ~30-60 minute goal setting visit (in person or telehealth) prior to first session

When and where is the program held?

  • Various Cincinnati Children’s locations throughout the city.


Rebecca Weisshaar 513-517-8484

Kelly Minarchek 513-803-0881

Central email: otpt.transitions.thrive@cchmc.org

Sensory processing is the ability to take in information through the senses, combine it with previous experiences and produce a meaningful response. For some children, sensory processing does not develop as efficiently as it should. Sensory processing difficulties can lead to problems with learning, development or behavior. These difficulties can disrupt daily routines. Children with sensory processing disorders (SPD) can be over or under sensitive to touch, movement, sight or sound. They may be distractible or have an unusually high or low activity level. They may also be impulsive or may have difficulty making transitions. During treatment the therapist guides your child through activities that challenge his ability to respond appropriately to sensory stimuli. The division has multiple staff trained in diagnostic evaluation and specialized treatment for children with SPD. Treatment recommendations vary from intensive to consultative. Treatment is based on the unique needs of the child. Our treatment stresses caregiver education and home programming. Learn more about our sensory program treatment.
Cincinnati Children’s sports physical therapists provide specialized services to best meet the needs of young athletes. Returning to sports is the focus of rehabilitation for athletes following an injury or surgery and personalized therapy programs are provided to maximize athletic performance. Our sports medical physical therapy program includes a variety of sports clinics for both healthy and injured athletes. Learn more about sports physical therapy.
A person’s ability to balance depends on information that the brain receives from the eyes, muscles and joints, and inner ear. When the brain cannot process the information it receives from the inner ear, it results in problems such as dizziness and nausea. These vestibular problems can lead to developing patterns of movement that compensate for the problem or to avoiding head movements.
Vestibular problems can result after certain illnesses, use of certain medications, or from injuries. Children with vestibular processing problems may also demonstrate delayed developmental skills. Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) retrains the brain to recognize and process signals from the inner ear along with information from the eyes, muscles and joints. The goal of VRT is to improve balance and decrease or eliminate feelings of dizziness during daily activities. If your child needs VRT, a physical therapist will first perform an evaluation. Then the therapist will develop a treatment plan that includes exercises to be performed both in therapy and at home. In many cases, balance improves after the therapy and home program are completed. Learn more about vestibular rehabilitation treatment.
The Division of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy is committed to the ongoing health and wellness of the children we serve. We work with community partners to develop programs. These programs target enhanced physical activity and lifelong fitness habits. We include running and adapted sport clubs. New wellness programs are created in response to family-identified priorities. Research suggests that children with physical disabilities engage in levels of physical activity that are far below national guidelines. We believe that regardless of ability, children can move more. Thus they can avoid the harmful effects of sedentary behavior and have fun in the city where they live. Learn more about wellness treatment.

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