Physical Therapy

Physical therapists at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation provide treatment for a wide range of conditions using strengthening and stretching exercises, manual manipulation of tissue, neuromuscular re-education, and the use of various therapeutic and assistive devices.

Physical therapists play an essential role in virtually every condition that rehabilitation medicine addresses. The goal of physical therapy is to improve mobility, restore functional movement, increase independence, relieve pain, and minimize limitations as a result of permanent disabilities.

To accomplish this, our physical therapists develop individualized programs tailored to each patient’s specific needs, which may include working on areas such as strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination.

The adult physical therapy unit includes acute care as well as inpatient and outpatient programs and services. Rusk Rehabilitation's pediatric physical therapy service plays an important role in the many specialized treatment programs that we provide for newborns, children, and young adults affected by a wide range of developmental, orthopaedic, neuromuscular, congenital, and rheumatic conditions. The pediatric physical therapy service includes acute care as well as inpatient and outpatient programs and services.

Details on our specialized services are included below. Except where noted below, additional information about our programs is available by calling 212-263-6070.

Acute Care Physical Therapy

In addition to our inpatient and outpatient physical therapy programs, Rusk Rehabilitation provides physical therapy services to many patients at NYU Langone’s Tisch Hospital who are still in the acute phase of recovery from illness or injury. This includes adults and children with general medical issues, orthopaedic and postsurgical conditions, neurological impairments, vascular deficits, and cardiac and pulmonary impairments.

The goal is to prepare patients for a safe discharge from the hospital, or in the case of patients who have additional physical therapy needs, get them ready for the next phase of their rehabilitation. Depending on your condition, this next phase of treatment may be at a long-term acute care hospital, an acute or subacute rehabilitation facility, home care services, or outpatient physical therapy.

Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy

Physical therapists play a key role in Rusk Rehabilitation's services for cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation patients.

Limb Deficiency Physical Therapy

Rusk Rehabilitation offers specialized inpatient services targeted to the needs of patients who have had an amputation. Our physical therapists play a central role in both the pre-prosthetic and prosthetic training phases of this rehabilitation process.

Physical Therapy for Medically Complex Conditions

Rusk Rehabilitation offers a specialized program targeted to patients dealing with physical and functional disabilities including polyneuropathy, myopathy, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and pain syndrome.

The physical therapist focuses primarily on restoring your ability to move your body and perform the daily activities of life, including sitting up in bed, getting in to and out of a bathtub or shower, walking, and climbing stairs.

Individual therapy programs may include pool therapy for early movement and general muscle strengthening, electrical stimulation for pain relief and strengthening, and advanced physical therapy equipment for balance retraining. The therapist may also suggest assistive equipment that can be employed when using the bathroom or walking.

Our physical therapists instruct friends and family on how best to assist you with various movement activities in order to ensure a safe transition to the next phase of rehabilitation. In addition, they provide you and your caregivers with ongoing education regarding the nature of your illness or injury, and on related issues such as skin care, positioning, and safety.

Physical Therapy After Stroke

During therapy sessions to help you recover from a stroke, your physical therapist works on restoring your ability to move your body and perform daily activities such as sitting up in bed, standing up, sitting down in a chair, walking, and climbing stairs.

Multiple treatment techniques are used to optimize each person's return to functional mobility, including bodyweight-support treadmill training for early walking efforts, and the use of specialized balance equipment.

Orthopaedic-Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy

Rusk Rehabilitation’s Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Program specializes in the acute postsurgical rehabilitation of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries, including joint replacement procedures, spinal surgery, and other types of orthopaedic surgery.

Physical Therapy for People with Cancer

Women and men diagnosed with cancer often undergo treatment involving surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. For some people, these treatments can cause side effects such as pain, limited mobility, decreased strength, swelling, and fatigue.

Our physical therapists use a variety of treatments to help counteract these side effects, including postural awareness to help retrain muscles and joints, therapeutic exercises to improve flexibility and strength in the affected area, aerobic conditioning to combat cancer-related fatigue, and patient education on skin care, scar management, lymphedema, and safe practices when engaging in daily activities.

Lymphedema Physical Therapy

Lymphedema causes limb swelling due to accumulation of lymphatic fluid. This condition can arise when the channels and ducts that transport lymphatic fluid are missing, impaired, or damaged. Secondary, also known as acquired, lymphedema commonly occurs following cancer surgery to remove lymph nodes.

Specially trained physical therapists can provide rehabilitative care for people with lymphedema. In addition to learning how to lower the risk of developing lymphedema, patients can benefit from a rehabilitation program designed to increase range of motion, flexibility, strength, endurance, and reduce swelling and other symptoms. Treatment may include manual lymphatic drainage to remove fluid, multilayer bandaging and compression garments to reduce swelling, and patient education.

Outpatient Chest Physical Therapy

The chest physical therapy unit provides pulmonary rehabilitation for people with lung conditions that are causing lung congestion, secretion retention, or areas of lung collapse. After people have completed their prescribed program, they also receive personalized exercise programs to guide their self-treatment at home.

Secretion Clearance Program

The Secretion Clearance Program is recommended for people who have been diagnosed with lung conditions that cause increased mucus production, including bronchiectasis, mycobacterium infections, cystic fibrosis, exacerbation of chronic bronchitis, and other conditions resulting in abnormal CT scans.

Patients are treated with advanced secretion clearance techniques, and are also taught a self-treatment approach designed to improve their pulmonary hygiene. Our therapists provide individualized instruction in the techniques best suited to help remove lung secretions and impacted mucus, thereby helping to reduce uncontrolled coughing and improve quality of life. The ultimate goal is to control lung congestion and reduce the incidence of respiratory infections in susceptible patients.

Advanced secretion clearance techniques used in this program includes the use of secretion clearance devices; postural drainage, which is a technique that uses body positioning to drain mucus from the lungs; active cycle of breathing, a technique to use airflow to clear mucus; autogenic drainage, an advanced form of self-airway drainage; and manual self-treatment techniques.

In order to improve their preoperative lung status, chest physical therapy can be provided to patients who are experiencing secretion retention or lung infections prior to elective surgery.

Lung Re-Expansion Program

The Lung Re-Expansion Program provides individualized treatment for patients with atelectasis (lung collapse) related to mucus retention, neuromuscular weakness, or a skeletal deformity. Patients with reversible restrictive lung conditions, such as right middle lobe syndrome and scoliosis, are excellent candidates for this program.

Lung re-expansion techniques used in the program include breathing exercises, incentive spirometry, and other therapeutic devices to facilitate lung re-expansion.

Breathing Retraining for Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

This program provides treatment and instruction in controlled breathing techniques for people with conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis who are not yet ready to begin a formal pulmonary rehabilitation program. Instruction begins in the resting position, and is later combined with functional activities such as movement and stair climbing as your breath control improves.

Techniques used in this program include pursed lip breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, paced breathing, positions for recovery from shortness of breath, energy conservation strategies, and outpatient physical therapy.

Comprehensive Pulmonary Care for Neuromuscular Conditions

The Comprehensive Pulmonary Care for Neuromuscular Conditions Program is designed for people with conditions such as muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, and Parkinson’s disease, and incorporates elements of other chest physical therapy programs, including secretion clearance techniques and lung re-expansion exercises. Special attention is given to effective cough and assisted cough techniques, inspiratory muscle training when respiratory muscle weakness is present, and strategies to increase lung volumes.

For additional information about the program, please call us at 212-263-6069.

Outpatient Facial Retraining Program

Rusk Rehabilitation's outpatient physical therapy unit offers evaluation and treatment for a variety of facial disorders. Our physical therapists work with other members of the rehabilitation team to develop an individualized facial retraining program designed to restore maximum function and mobility to the facial muscles.

Services are provided for people with a wide variety of conditions including but not limited to facial nerve injuries, Bell’s palsy, Ramsay Hunt syndrome, Guillain-Barre syndrome, acoustic neuroma, tumor removal, postsurgical facial conditions, and trauma.

For additional information about the Outpatient Facial Retraining Program or for a referral, please call us at 212-263-6075.

Physical Therapy for Women’s Health Issues

Rusk Rehabilitation physical therapists provide a number of outpatient programs for women that are designed exclusively to address their health concerns.

Pediatric Physical Therapy

Rusk Rehabilitation's pediatric physical therapy department is an integral part of our outpatient rehabilitation program for children with disabilities. Our physical therapists work with patients who range in age from newborn to 21 years old to help them address movement problems.

Robotic-Assisted Walking Therapy

Rusk Rehabilitation pediatric physical therapists offers the Robotic-Assisted Walking Therapy Program, in which they use the Lokomat® to perform body-weight supported treadmill training to help children regain or improve their ability to walk.

The Lokomat® uses robotic "legs" and a treadmill machine to guide a child through a natural walking pattern. The child is placed in a harness that suspends him or her over the treadmill, while the robotic legs are fastened to the child's own legs with straps. A computer controls the pace of the treadmill and measures the child's progress, while at least one physical therapist oversees the session.

The Lokomat® can help your child to experience and practice walking with a natural movement pattern; walk for longer distances before having to stop and rest; walk without the fear of falling; feel motivated to learn and improve through real-time feedback; and gain a sense of accomplishment and progress.

The overall goal of this therapy is to regain or improve a child's ability to walk, by decreasing assistance needed, improving the walking pattern, improving endurance, increasing walking speed, and improving gross motor performance. This program is for children with nonprogressive neuromuscular disorders who are able to follow commands, initiate steps, hold their heads up, and actively participate safely.

Children with the following conditions are most commonly treated with the Lokomat®: cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, and brain injury. The child and family must agree to 21 sessions within a 6 to 9 week period. All participants must undergo a telephone screening before being scheduled for evaluations. Based on that screening, an evaluation may be scheduled to further assess if the Robot-Assisted Walking Therapy Program is safe and effective for the child.

Please call 212-598-6248 or email lokomat.info@nyumc.org if you have any questions about the Lokomat® or our Robotic-Assisted Walking Therapy Program.