The Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is based at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) which serves Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec, Nunavut and parts of Northern Ontario.

Service is also provided through the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (OCTC) which services individuals within Ottawa, Renfrew, Stormont Dundas and Glengarry, Prescott Russell, as well as Northern Leeds, Lanark and Grenville.

This division evaluates, treats and advocates for children with physical, cognitive and behavioral challenges associated with the diagnosis of cerebral palsy, spina bifida, acquired brain injury, neuromuscular diseases, pediatric limb deficiency, burns, multiple trauma and a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. Our mission is to help children with these conditions reach their full functional potential. We practice family-centred care using a team approach which is supported by scholarship in education and research through the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. 

Our teams vary depending on diagnosis, acuity and site of service, but often include a pediatric rehabilitation medicine specialist, multiple health care professionals (eg. physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, psychologists and social workers), administrative support and research personnel.


Clinical programs

Inpatient care

Inpatient pediatric rehabilitation medicine consists of a combination of consulting services and inpatient interdisciplinary care. Typically the inpatient program services individuals who have newly acquired brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or multiple traumas. These individuals require daily therapy to re-establish functional ability. 

The inpatient services include:

  • Assess patients early in their hospital stay
  • Complete consultations
  • Recommend required therapy
  • Apply the criteria for the inpatient programming
  • Plan transition to rehabilitation
  • Work as part of the interdisciplinary team
  • Direct goal oriented interdisciplinary rounds
  • Plan therapeutic passes
  • Facilitate transition to outpatient programming 

Outpatient care 

Pediatric Medical Rehabilitation provides ambulatory care in a number of clinics including:

  • The Neuromuscular Clinic (CHEO)
  • The Spina Bifida Clinic (CHEO)
  • The Outpatient Rehabilitation Clinic / Acquired Brain Injury Clinic (CHEO)
  • The Assessment Clinic / Cerebral Palsy Clinic (OCTC)
  • The Botox / Spasticity Clinic (OCTC)
  • The Adult Cerebral Palsy Clinic (The Ottawa Rehabilitation Center)  

There are approximately 400 to 600 patient visits annually, including approximately 100-150 new consultations.

Once a month, there may be an opportunity to observe or participate in the injection of Botulinum toxin into children with spasticity. This procedure is typically done under anesthesia guided by electrical stimulation and/or ultrasound.

Clinical problems and diseases evaluated and followed

  • In-patient rehabilitation acquired brain injury (ABI), spinal cord injury (SCI), multiple trauma 

Neuromuscular clinic

  • Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, Myotonic Dystrophy, Charcot Marie Tooth, Spinal Muscular Atrophy 
  • Spina Bifida Clinic (myelomeningocoele and tethered cord)
  • Spasticity Management / Botox assessment clinic at the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Clinic
  • Assessment Clinic/ Cerebral Palsy clinic (OCTC)


Learners will be exposed to, and may participate in, nationally affiliated clinical research projects primarily involving patients with neuromuscular conditions and cerebral palsy.

  • CP-NET: A provincial project which includes a data registry analyzing risk factors, neuropathology, genomics and technology-based treatment options
  • Virtual reality: Assessing the use of VR techniques in optimizing rehabilitation
  • The Canadian Neuromuscular Data Registry: A data registry facilitating research in neuromuscular diseases


Training programs

Undergraduate training opportunities

The Pediatric Rehabilitation program welcomes medical students for rotations of a duration of two to four weeks. Exposure includes teaching in relation to the full array of inpatient and outpatient clinical activities with one-on-one case reviews.

Emphasis during the rotations is placed on:

Comprehensive history taking including history of functional abilities (basic activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living)

Comprehensive physical examination with focus on:

  • Neurological examination
  • Musculoskeletal anatomy
  • Assessment of physical, cognitive and behavioral function

Case management including:

  • Appropriate use and interpretation of laboratory investigations and diagnostic imaging
  • Appropriate consultation and team work with health professionals including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, psychologists, social workers, dieticians, nurse case managers and child life specialists
  • Spasticity management including therapeutic techniques, bracing, medical management, injection techniques and option of surgical consultation
  • Equipment prescription to maximize function

Postgraduate training program

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is a certified postgraduate training program through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

We provide students who wish to specialize in the area of pediatric physiatry one to two years of exposure to pertinent subspecialties such as orthopedics, developmental pediatrics and pediatric neurology. Students will be exposed to pediatric neuromuscular diseases, cerebral palsy, head injuries, spinal injuries and multiple trauma injuries.