Rehabilitation psychology helps people with injuries, illnesses or other disabilities cope with changes in their functioning so they can reach their full potential. At Seattle Children's, our Rehabilitation Psychology program serves children, teens and young adults, from 2 to 21 years old, who have learning, emotional or behavioral problems due to an injury or illness. We base our treatment on your child's unique needs. We take into account your child's medical and physical conditions, and how your child functions intellectually, socially, emotionally and behaviorally. We also carefully consider your child's situation at home and school, with friends and within the community.

Conditions We Treat

We treat psychological, behavioral and emotional problems that are due to a variety of medical conditions, including:

  • Cells in the brain need oxygen to survive. Anoxic brain injuries occur when the brain doesn't receive enough oxygen, such as during near drowning or near hanging.

  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are tangles of arteries and veins. Their exact cause is unknown, but they seem to develop during the first part of pregnancy. They can be seen when your baby is born, and look like a swollen, dark-red spot. AVMs change slowly over time. As your child grows, AVMs can cause pain, swelling or bleeding. They can limit your child's ability to move and cause other serious health problems.

  • Brain tumors are growths of cells within the skull that are not normal. To describe brain tumors, doctors look at what type of tissue they are made of and where they are located in the brain. Some brain tumors are cancer (malignant), while others are not (benign). Read more.

  • Neuromuscular illnesses affect the nerves and muscles. They often cause muscle weakness and sometimes lead to problems controlling muscles. Muscular dystrophy (MD), for example, refers to a group of diseases that gradually cause muscles to weaken and sometimes affect the heart, eyes, brain and other organs.

  • Neurological infections happen when disease-causing viruses and bacteria invade the nervous system. The nervous system is the network that coordinates the body's activities. Some of the most common neurological infections are encephalitis, meningitis and HIV.

  • Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the peripheral nervous system. This part of the nervous system is the network that sends information from the brain and spinal cord to the body, and carries information back to the brain. When the system is damaged, these vital messages can be distorted or interrupted. In Guillain-Barre syndrome, for example, the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. This causes muscle weakness, tingling and sometimes loss of muscle use in part of the body (paralysis). While most people recover from Guillain-Barre syndrome, others continue to have some weakness.

  • The body's immune system usually defends against illness. But in lupus, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues, damaging joints, skin, blood vessels and organs. There are many types of lupus, but most often the term refers to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). SLE can be hard to diagnose. People with SLE don't have the exact same problems, and the symptoms may be like those of other conditions, including juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

  • A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, or a blood vessel in the brain bursts and bleeds into the spaces around brain cells. In both cases, brain cells don't get the oxygen and nutrients they need to survive. Strokes can cause loss of muscle use in parts of the body (paralysis), as well as problems with memory, learning and thinking.

  • When a child has a severe head injury, the brain can be damaged. Our team evaluates children with traumatic brain injuries to see how well their physical body is working and to check their language and thinking skills. We make recommendations to help children recover as much function as possible and plan for their return to school and their community.

Services We Offer

We provide psychological evaluations and recommendations when your child has had an injury or illness that causes problems with thinking and remembering, emotions or behavior. Our team works with your child, your family and, when appropriate, your child's school. We help you and your child use new techniques, get support services and go back to school. Our services include:

  • We offer pain management strategies that do not require medicine, including imagery and relaxation techniques.

  • Neuropsychological evaluations with speech and language pathologists see how your child is doing with thinking, reasoning, remembering, learning and language, as well as general psychological evaluations.

  • We offer neuropsychological rehabilitation for memory problems and other difficulties with thinking, reasoning and learning.

  • Individual, group and family psychotherapy are offered to help you cope with illness or injury.

  • We offer support for your child's brothers and sisters.