Pediatric Speech-Language Pathology Program

Our world-renowned rehabilitative care for children has one goal: to enable these young patients to develop their potential and become independent, productive adults. In keeping with this mission, Rusk has a specialized pediatric unit of its Speech-Language Pathology Department that addresses the communication needs of children. Speech-language pathology services are available to pediatric inpatients at Tisch Hospital and through inpatient and outpatient programs at the Rusk Institute.

Pediatric Neurogenic Communication Disorders Program

Most of the children being seen by our pediatric speech-language unit have either a peripheral or central nervous system disorder or disease, a developmental delay, or a cognitive communicative impairment. We commonly treat children with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain and spinal cord tumors, pervasive developmental disorder, seizure disorder, or transverse myelitis.

The types of communication disorders associated with these conditions include:

  • aphasia (an acquired language impairment that can result from brain injury, stroke and other conditions)
  • motor speech impairments (such as dysarthria, or apraxia of speech, in which a person has trouble putting words or syllables together in the proper order)
  • developmental language delays
  • receptive/expressive language disorders
  • voice disorders

Our pediatric speech-language pathologists are trained to diagnose each patient’s communication impairment and evaluate its impact on the child’s everyday functioning, performance in school, and social interactions. It is important for the speech-language pathologist to determine the type of disorder and level of severity in order to help plan for the rehabilitation needs of the child, and to assist the rehab team in understanding how to best communicate with the child.

Treatment: Children are seen in individual speech therapy sessions from 2 to 5 times a week as inpatients and 2 to 3 times a week as outpatients. The treatment program is tailor-made to fit the communicative needs of each child. Family and patient education about communication changes associated with the above conditions is also an integral part of our programs. In addition, some children with communication disorders may require assistive technology, such as a communication device. We work closely with our Assistive Technology Program to help these children achieve effective functional communication.

A physician referral is required for admission to any of our pediatric speech-language programs. Priority in our outpatient program is given to children with complex multi-disciplinary needs. 

For further information about our pediatric program and services, please call (212) 598-6248 or visit our Pediatric Injuries and Conditions web pages.