Outpatient Treatment Team

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The Child or Adolescent and Family Members
The child or adolescent patient and his or her family are the most important members of the rehabilitation team. The Pediatric Family Rehabilitation program strives to create an environment in which collaborative, empowering relationships among children, families and healthcare providers meet the needs of the child and family.

Physiatrists (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physicians) are medical doctors who focus on function and quality of life. Physiatrists complete medical school and at least four additional years of residency training in this specialty. Pediatric physiatrists have additional training and demonstrated competency (subspecialty board certification) in caring for children and adolescents who have musculoskeletal, neurologic and developmental problems. A pediatric physiatrist may perform a medical evaluation and order any supporting diagnostic tests, develop a treatment plan, provide any necessary prescriptions for medications or equipment, and coordinate a multispecialty team.

Physical Therapists
Physical therapists (PT) observe and analyze how a child moves and plays. In the outpatient setting, the PT provides age-appropriate services that help to improve independence with mobility, limit physical disability due to injury or disease, and progress developmental motor skills. During treatment sessions, the child or adolescent focuses on increasing muscle strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, and coordination of motor skills to achieve functional goals. The Physical Therapist provides suggestions at each session for home exercise program to continue to work towards therapy goals. The Physical Therapist also provides ongoing assessment of equipment needs, including orthotics, wheelchairs and gait aids.

Occupational Therapists
Occupational therapists (OT) help children and adolescents engage with roles in daily life, such as play, learning and developing self care skills. Through collaboration with the child or adolescent and his or her family, the occupational therapist assists with the skills needed to return to these roles. In occupational therapy each child or adolescent will focus on improving self care skills, feeding/swallowing issues, cognition, coordination, strength, psychosocial skills and safety.

Other physicians and health care providers may have input into the outpatient therapy team effort. Specialists from pediatric orthopedics, neurology, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, and pediatrics, as well as nurse specialists, speech therapists, school-based therapists and many others may be incorporated into a given patient's course of therapy, depending on the individual needs of each child.