Pediatric Behavioral Health in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

If your child has an illness or injury that causes a decline in ability, we can help. The UPMC Children's Hospital Rehabilitation Unit (CHRU) helps children and teens restore function and independence after an illness or injury.

Behavioral health providers integrated into CHRU provide collaborative care with you and your child’s medical team to improve health outcomes.

Behavioral Health Care for Children in the Rehab Unit

After a long illness or severe injury, your child may develop a mood or behavioral concern that can impact recovery.

Behavioral health providers at CHRU treat a range of medical and mental health issues, including:

  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Traumatic stress.
  • Behavior problems.
  • Neurodevelopmental challenges.
  • Somatic symptom disorder.
  • Behavioral symptoms from an acute event like a traumatic brain injury.

The Rehabilitation and Behavioral Health Team

Our team of rehab, physical medicine, and behavioral health experts treats children and teens at CHRU.

The team includes:

  • Doctors and nurses.
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapists.
  • Music, art, pet therapy, and child life specialists.
  • Experts in school services.
  • Care coordinators.
  • Social workers.
  • Behavioral health counselors.
  • Neuropsychologists.
  • Recreational therapists.

We regularly meet with families to:

  • Make sure all children and teens receive high-quality rehab and behavioral health care.
  • Share treatment goals.
  • Ensure consistency and communication in care.

What does a rehabilitation behavioral health provider do?

The behavioral health provider at the CHRU has many roles, including therapist, teacher, and advocate.

They may teach you and your family members about:

  • Your child's recovery process.
  • Healing from injury.
  • Adjusting to having a child or loved one with an illness or injury.

They may also teach the other care team members about:

  • Family relationships.
  • Managing challenging behaviors.
  • Supportive treatments for children and teens.

How can rehabilitation behavioral health help my child?

When your child is in the CHRU, a behavioral health provider will assess them and tailor evidence-based treatments to their needs.

These treatments might include helping your child:

  • Cope with strong emotions.
  • Manage stress.
  • Improve real-life skills, such as hygiene, making friends, and following rules.
  • Help with adjustment issues during recovery.
  • Manage pre-existing or acute behavioral health concerns.

After discharge from the CHRU, your child's behavioral health provider offers treatments such as:

They also help you and your family cope during your child's recovery. And they can connect you to behavioral health support near you.

Behavioral Health Care for Children with Functional Neurological Disorder (FND)

FND is a condition that disrupts the body's nervous system. It affects how the brain and body send and receive signals.

Disrupting these signals causes symptoms such as:

  • Problems walking.
  • Weakness.
  • Tremors.
  • Changes to speech.
  • Events that look like seizures but do not damage the brain or body (non-epileptic events).

The CHRU offers a focused program for children with FND that includes:

  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
  • Vestibular therapy to address dizziness and balance impairments.
  • Psychiatry and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with a psychologist or other behavioral health provider.

The rehab behavioral health expert helps your child:

  • Learn what FND is and how it works in their body.
  • Recognize and manage emotions.
  • Identify and manage non-epileptic events (NEEs).
  • Create plans to manage NEEs at school and other activities.
  • Learn relaxation skills.