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Physical therapy at Shriners Children's helps children build confidence and strength, focusing on what is important to them and what they love to do in their daily lives.

Many conditions treated at Shriners Children's benefit from physical therapy. From orthopedic conditions such as cerebral palsy, limb deficiencies, sports injuries or spina bifida – to spinal cord injuries – to care after a burn injury, our physical therapists have the education and expertise to help infants all the way to teens. Physical therapy can be provided before surgery, after surgery and for other nonsurgical reasons.

Each child who works with our physical therapists receives a personalized care plan based on their specific needs, wants, goals and challenges.

The focus of our physical therapists is to help children learn new skills, as well as to get back skills they had before an injury or surgery. They are here to teach children stretches and exercises to reduce pain, gain strength and return to activities they love.

Many children walk with the help of our physical therapists - whether it's the first time on their feet after surgery, or the very first time ever, thanks to a piece of equipment they received.

Physical therapists may teach you and your child:

  • Exercises, balance or stretching
  • Ways to reduce pain
  • How to use a prosthetic arm or leg
  • How to move while wearing an orthotic brace
  • Ways to strengthen muscles
  • How to walk with a walker, crutches or other equipment
  • How to use a manual or power wheelchair
  • How to move after surgery – whether that means out of bed, into the car or outside of the building

Family-centered Care Approach

Shriners Children's patients often describe our staff members as part of their family, which is awesome, because our therapists work hard to involve the entire family in each child's physical therapy. They have found that when the whole family helps a child with their physical therapy, there is a much quicker recovery and rate of success.

At Shriners Children's, physical therapy is provided on both an inpatient and outpatient basis. Inpatient physical therapy is for patients who are recovering from surgery inside our building. Outpatient physical therapy is for patients who have either gone home after surgery or need therapy on a regular basis to treat their condition or injury. Because many children travel several hours for care at Shriners Children's, our physical therapists create easy to follow home exercise programs for our patients as part of their outpatient therapy plans.

Home exercise programs include photos and descriptions about how to do each stretch or exercise, so that children can keep up their hard work from home. Often times, equipment that is needed for home exercise programs will be sent home with your family so that you don't have to worry about finding the right things.

Here at Shriners Children’s, we make physical therapy fun while challenging children to reach their goals so they can be as independent as possible.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Physical Therapy with an External Fixator (EXFIX)

Shriners Children's physicians often use external fixators to carefully lengthen a child's limb. Physical therapy with an external fixator (EXFIX) can be challenging because it is a metal frame which holds the bones in place. Our physical therapists will teach you how and when to adjust your child's external fixator. They will also go over your child's physical therapy program so you can work with them at home.

Physical Therapy with an Ellipse Nail

An option to treat children with leg length differences is the ellipse nail, which is a magnetic device that is inserted into the limb that needs lengthening. Physical therapists will work hand-in-hand with you and your physician to develop a care plan personalized for your child's needs.

Thank you for all you do! My son is walking because of your countless hours of expertise!
Megan, LaCrosse
therapist working with patient

Scoliosis Specific Exercise - SSE

Customized for each child, scoliosis specific exercises offer an effective, non-surgical option for treating scoliosis. This approach uses physical therapy to help bring a curved spine into a straighter, more natural position through posture training and exercises.

Conditions We Support

View All Related Conditions


Shriners Children's physicians have vast experience treating arthrogryposis, a rare muscle disorders that causes stiff joints and abnormal muscle development.

Back Injuries

Shriners Children's specialists have vast experience treating back injuries that occur while being active or playing sports. We're here to provide the right combination of care and treatment to get your child back to play.

Cerebral Palsy

At Shriners Children's, our team of specialists provides individualized care for your child with cerebral palsy.

Limb Deficiencies

Shriners Children's specializes in treating limb deficiencies, which occur when part or all of a child's limb does not completely form during pregnancy or as a result of a major injury.

Muscular Dystrophy

At Shriners Children's, our unique team of specialists provides the highest quality neuromuscular care for your child with muscular dystrophy.

Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a common reason that children have knee pain, because of overuse and growth spurts. If the pain doesn't subside on its own, Shriners Children's is here to help.


Scoliosis is a condition where the spine is curved sideways. With advanced treatments and world-class expertise, Shriners Children's cares for more than 10,000 children with scoliosis each year

Spina Bifida

At Shriners Children's, our unique team of specialists provides the highest quality care for your child with spina bifida.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.