Occupational Therapy

Life-altering conditions such as a stroke, spinal cord injury, or the loss of a limb can have a significant impact on a person's ability to perform simple daily tasks. At NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation, occupational therapists create a treatment program that helps you regain your independence.

Our occupational therapists are trained as experts in their program areas and have advanced certifications in their specialties, when appropriate and available. We help you perform daily tasks—such as dressing and bathing—successfully manage your home, prepare to return to work, and participate fully in leisure and community activities.

We offer a variety of occupational therapy services, including occupational therapy for adults and occupational therapy for children.

Physician referrals are required for all of the programs listed below. For more information on occupational therapy at Rusk Rehabilitation, please call 212-263-6010.

Occupational Therapy for Adults

We provide inpatient and outpatient specialized care to adults adjusting to life after an illness or accident that has caused a disability.

Inpatient Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy might start while you are still being cared for in the hospital. We have specialized programs for people with brain injuries and strokes as well as other neurological, cardiac, orthopaedic, and medically complex conditions. These include the following:

  • acute care occupational therapy programs that focus on your ability to perform everyday tasks and your overall mobility after surgery
  • the total shoulder replacement program, which helps people perform everyday tasks, including an at-home exercise program, and improve range of motion
  • the same-day discharge program, which includes an occupational therapy session on the day of preadmission testing for patients and their coaches. Techniques to be used at home following surgery are taught by an occupational therapist, who also sees patients following surgery as well as prior to discharge

Inpatient and Outpatient Services

The following services are available to patients receiving care while in the hospital and those coming to Rusk Rehabilitation for therapy appointments:

  • functional upper extremity training for people with weakness on one side of the body as a result of a stroke or another neurological condition (a physician’s referral is required)
  • electrical stimulation and Bioness H200 to improve movement in the arms (a physician’s referral is required)
  • assistive technology to improve your independence and quality of life, including devices to facilitate home automation, adaptive computer hardware and software, and use of the telephone and other forms of communication (an assistive technology physician’s referral is required)
  • seating and mobility or wheelchair services to help people who require lifelong use of a wheelchair to live independently, participate in the workforce and recreation activities, and manage their healthcare needs (a seating and mobility physician’s referral is required)
  • vision rehabilitation therapies after a stroke or other cerebrovascular accident, brain injury, concussion, or other neurologic incident that utilize biometrics as well as iPads, Vision Coach, AceReader, and Track and Read, which is part of the Computer Aided Vision Therapy software package (a visual rehabilitation physician’s referral is required)

Driver Rehabilitation Program

The driver rehabilitation program provides a pre-driving evaluation to assess your vision, cognition, perceptual skills, physical status, and use of a driving simulator. Following the successful completion of the clinical evaluation, you are referred to a local driving school for an on-the-road evaluation. We can also make recommendations for equipment to adapt your car to your physical needs and alternatives to driving, if needed.

In this outpatient program, we can only work with people who have been seen by a Rusk Rehabilitation physiatrist. Please call 212-263-6037 to make an appointment with a doctor. People interested in participating must have a valid driver’s license or permit.

Barrier-free Design

Our barrier-free design outpatient service addresses the challenges presented by everyday living situations. This may include climbing staircases, getting in and out of the bathtub, and accessibility issues for someone using a wheelchair. An occupational therapist with expertise in rehabilitation and functional design recommends ways to make your home safer and easier to navigate. Ideas can include guidelines for construction and advice on how to obtain specialized equipment or products.

A barrier-free design physician’s referral is required for this program.

Occupational Therapy for Children

Pediatric occupational therapists understand how orthopaedic and neurological conditions affect a child’s fine motor skills, vision, sensory knowledge, and ability to process ideas and communicate effectively.

Pediatric occupational therapy at Rusk Rehabilitation, part of the services offered through Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York at NYU Langone, includes a variety of specialized programs to aid a child’s progress in these specific areas. To make an appointment, or for additional information about any of our pediatric services, please call our scheduling department at 212-598-6248.

Camp High-Five

This intensive, 4-week summer program is geared toward children as young as age 3 who have weakness in 1 arm or hand, often as a result of a stroke, cerebral palsy, or surgery to remove a brain tumor.

During the daily, three-hour sessions, children wear a removable cast to restrict movement of the unaffected arm. Therapy is based on the theory that by limiting the use of the functional limb, the brain will create the neural pathways needed to stimulate activity in the affected arm or hand.

Our highly trained staff work on strengthening your child’s large and small muscle groups through activities such as adapted sports, water play, arts and crafts, horticultural therapy, and meal preparation using special utensils. Skills are evaluated prior to and at the end of the session to gauge improvement.

Concussion Program

Pediatric occupational therapists from Rusk Rehabilitation work with NYU Langone’s Concussion Center team to assist patients with a concussion and their families throughout the treatment process.

Vision Program

Our occupational therapists collaborate with ophthalmologists and neurodevelopmental optometrists to work on eye–hand coordination, reading, and other skills that help your child in the classroom and while making his or her way through the world. We use a variety of activities and equipment, including Dynavision’s D2, to improve visual performance. Children with both newly acquired and developmental deficits, often resulting from a concussion or other neurological condition, are candidates for referral.

The Listening Program

The Listening Program® is music-based auditory stimulation method that gently trains the ear to accurately process sound. When auditory perception is distorted, which can occur, for example, in children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, children may have difficulty processing information. The Listening Program® helps children improve attention and memory skills and learn how to focus in loud environments.

Sensory Integration

Sensory integration is a neurological process that typically starts at birth and continues through childhood, during which time children learn to organize information through their senses, so they can react properly. Some children have trouble processing this information.

At Rusk Rehabilitation’s sensory gym, therapists use Ayres Sensory Integration® therapy to help make social interactions easier and improve participation in school, home, and community activities.

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology creates opportunities for children who have difficulty speaking, writing, reading, or participating in typical play. Our speech–language pathologists and occupational therapists specialize in using technology, such as computers and eye gaze systems, to help children communicate. We evaluate each child to determine which technology is best suited to his or her needs.

Aquatic Therapy

The aquatic therapy program provides individual therapy sessions twice weekly for 10 weeks. The natural properties of the water, including buoyancy, combined with the heated water temperature, allows for movement that a child may not be capable of on land. This is especially helpful for children who have muscle tightness and tone management challenges in the upper body.

Armeo Spring Pediatric Therapy

The Armeo®Spring Pediatric offers functional arm and hand therapy to children with movement impairments resulting from orthopaedic or neurological conditions. The tool uses video game technology and visual feedback to encourage children to perform repeated movements that can improve motion and control in the affected arm.

Seating and Mobility Clinic

If a child requires a wheelchair or other seating and positioning devices, he or she is referred to our seating and mobility clinic. We match children with the wheelchair or other seating or positioning device that is best suited to their needs.