Current Environment:

The Inpatient Physical Therapy Department 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.


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

  • recovering from surgery
  • receiving care for a traumatic injury or illness
  • undergoing treatment related to an acute, chronic, or complex medical condition

Our physical therapists specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of a variety of medical conditions and diagnoses that may require improvement in the following areas:

  • functional mobility
  • gait
  • developmental stimulation
  • gross motor coordination
  • balance
  • strength
  • endurance
  • airway clearance

Goal of inpatient physical therapy

Physical therapists work to improve each patient's underlying impairments and try to help them make a full recovery, return to their previous level of function, or to learn to work within their functional limitations. The goal of inpatient physical therapy is to ensure that patients can return home safely following injury or illness, determine appropriate discharge planning, and to maintain strength and endurance with prolonged hospitalizations.


Our staff is specially trained to work with a variety of pediatric medical conditions and frequently encounter patients with extensive and complex problems such as:

  • orthopedic
  • neurologic
  • chronic and acute pulmonary
  • oncologic
  • cardiac
  • needs related to organ and bone marrow transplant

Plan of care


Our physical 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 physical 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:

  • positioning and posture alignment
  • range of motion and strengthening exercises
  • chest physical therapy and other airway clearance techniques
  • balance activities
  • developmental activities
  • endurance training
  • gait training
  • functional mobility training

Our physical therapists also make recommendations regarding orthotics and adaptive equipment when necessary.


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


In many instances, physical therapists need to assist in deciding when a patient is ready to leave the hospital. This may include ordering medical equipment such as crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs. We communicate whether a patient is safe to be discharged home or may benefit from a transition to another facility, such as an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Along with the patient's primary medical team, we may recommend that a patient receive physical therapy services in their home or on an outpatient basis after leaving the hospital. If a patient needs to return for outpatient physical therapy appointments, we can assist with coordination of outpatient services at Boston Children's Hospital or within the community.

Contact us

For more information about our inpatient physical therapy services, please call Physical and Occupational Therapy Services at 617-355-7212.