Current Environment:

The Inpatient Occupational Therapy Service at Boston Children's Hospital provides services to patients within inpatient care units, including the intensive care units, and provides treatment to a broad spectrum of individuals ranging from newborns to adults. Occupational therapists play an integral role to help maximize self-care and play skills during their hospitalization.


Patients referred for occupational therapy while in the hospital may be:

  • recovering from surgery
  • receiving care for a traumatic injury or illness
  • undergoing treatment related to acute, chronic, or complex medical conditions
  • at risk for developmental delay secondary to prolonged hospitalization
  • experiencing a change in upper extremity tone or functional use
  • having difficulty completing activities of daily living at their prior functional level

Goal of inpatient occupational therapy

The goal of occupational therapy is to help patients maximize functional independence and participation in all occupations, across all environments (e.g. home, work, school, community). Occupational therapists work with the patient and caregivers to help regain or develop the skills necessary for the highest level of function and independence.

Our occupational therapists work to improve each patient's underlying impairments and try to help them make a full recovery or return to their optimal level of function. Our occupational therapists are skilled in modifying our patients' environments and daily tasks and in using adaptive equipment and assistive technology to increase functional independence.


Our occupational therapy staff are clinically trained to provide evaluation and individualized treatment to patients with a variety of pediatric medical conditions, including orthopedic, neurologic, prematurity, chronic and acute pulmonary, oncologic, cardiac, pain management, and transplants, as well as complex medical conditions.

Plan of care


Our occupational therapists perform thorough initial evaluations and use the findings to develop comprehensive individualized treatment programs and establish specific, objective, measurable, and time-based goals.

* — A referral for inpatient occupational therapy is placed by the patient’s medical team prior to examination

Treatment approach

Treatment programs are always individualized to meet each patient's needs. Examples of treatment include:

  • life skills (dressing, self-feeding, grooming, play, time management)
  • acute cognitive impairments
  • ROM and strengthening exercises
  • positioning and orthotic fabrication and management
  • functional endurance
  • congenital hand differences
  • upper extremity traumatic injuries
  • spasticity and movement disorders
  • motor difficulties
  • sensory organizational skills as it relates to neonatal and acute neurological events


We emphasize participation of the family or other caregivers in each patient's treatment program. Patients and caregivers are educated about the role of occupational therapy and are encouraged to be involved in treatment sessions whenever possible. Home exercise programs may be provided, as well as education regarding occupational therapy discharge plans and follow-up.


In many instances, occupational therapists assist in deciding when a patient is ready to leave the hospital or if they may benefit from a transition to another facility such as an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. We communicate whether or not a patient is safe to be discharged to home and if so communicates with case management and the medical team to provide any equipment necessary for a safe return to daily activities. Along with the patient's physician, we may recommend that a patient receive occupational therapy services in their home or on an outpatient basis after leaving the hospital. If a patient needs to return for outpatient occupational therapy appointments, we often refer patients to the Boston Children's Outpatient Occupational Therapy Department. In addition to continued services, occupational therapists will often communicate with school systems when a major functional change occurs that may require further educational testing to support school reintegration.

Contact us

For more information about our Inpatient Occupational Therapy services, please call the Physical and Occupational Services Department at 617-355-7212.