Occupational Therapy

Lurie Children’s offers a comprehensive, state-of-the-art Occupational Therapy Program with a vibrant developmental approach. Our skilled and versatile occupational therapy team specializes in the evaluation and treatment of children from premature babies to teenagers with health challenges in the following areas: 

  • Fine motor skills involving small muscle movements, use of fingers, and coordination with the eyes and hand movement together.
  • Visual perceptual motor skills involving the coordination of the two sides of the body, hearing, seeing, feeling and moving to perform novel functional and motor tasks. 
  • Integrating previously experienced information with new learning.
  • Sensorimotor skills involve incorporating information received from body senses and the environment to carry out appropriate movement skills required for functional living skills, following directions and social skills.
  • Social interactions and play skills relating to the use of fine motor, perceptual motor and sensory motor skills while at home and in the community.
  • Upper extremity ability involving the use of shoulders, arms, hands and shoulder girdle for age-appropriate skills and activities.

Our goal is to help your child be able to participate in the occupational skills of infancy, childhood and adolescence ― whether it’s helping your baby interact with you, assisting your child so they have the skills to interact with peers, or being able to dress themselves in the morning.

Maximizing your child’s potential for success and independence by coordinating their thinking, speaking, hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling and eating with helpful and developmentally appropriate body movements and behaviors is our goal.

Our outcomes include:

  • Increased:
    • Participation in self-care activities
    • Skilled use of the upper body, including arms, hands and fingers
    • Tolerance of sensory inputs, including tastes, smells, textures, movement, and sounds
  • Improved:
    • Interactions and engagement with parents, family members, and caregivers
    • Interactions and engagement in learning activities at home
    • Ability to play independently and with peers
    • Rehabilitation of the arms, hands and fingers after disability, injury, accident and/or surgery.
    • Coordination of age-appropriate behavior and social interactions with fine-motor, sensorimotor and perceptual motor skills


Our occupational therapists currently support the following multidisciplinary programs:

Some of our specialty programs include:

  • Movement based programs: For a child who is sensitive to movement, needs to move more, is poorly coordinated, needs to be calm or needs help focusing on fine motor activities
  • Therapeutic Listening: For a child who is over or under-sensitive to sounds and other sensory input, including children with attention and focus concerns and those on the autistic spectrum.
  • Sensory Feeding and Diet Techniques: For a child who has limited food choices due to difficulty tolerating different food textures, colors and tastes; or smells.
  • Perceptual-Motor Exercises: For the child who is having  difficulty with writing, learning letters, manipulation of objects or putting puzzles together. 
  • Post-surgical Trauma
  • Post-concussion Syndrome

The Lurie Children’s Difference

We comprehensively evaluate and treat the child as a whole while also focusing on the family’s needs and goals. Our occupational therapists help each child become more independent and successful in everyday life. We are skilled at determining the right combination of strategies, including exercises, games, equipment, tools and modalities to accomplish each child’s unique therapeutic goals, partnering with the family to develop the best home activities.

Our Occupational Therapy Program also supports ongoing research and inquiry. This helps our therapists apply the latest science and evidence-based strategies to their work. With “constraint-induced” research with children with brachial plexus injury, we are finding effective ways to promote bilateral upper extremity use and improve strength in the involved upper extremity. The latest findings show that the weaker arm becomes stronger when the stronger arm is gently constrained. 

What to Expect

On your first visit an occupational therapist(s) will conduct an evaluation of your child, lasting about one hour. They will:

  • Talk with you about your child, what the doctors have told you and your concerns
  • Take a medical history of issues related to your child’s occupational therapy needs
  • Talk with you about any previous therapies you’ve tried
  • Ask questions about any problems or concerns you have about your child’s behavior and functional skills.

Therapists may take turns talking and observing. If two therapists are involved in the evaluation one therapist interviews you, while the other therapist may play with your child, see how they use various toys and we may begin to use a standardized assessment.

They’ll use one or a few standardized testing tools, which are painless and often fun, including:

  • Peabody Developmental Motor Skills Test
  • Bruninks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency
  • Berry-Buktenica Visual Motor Integration Test
  • Sensory Profile

For the child with an injury or congenital issue, other methods of assessment  may include range of motion, strength and coordination assessments.

Children with a  post-concussion injury may be tested using a variety of tools to assess memory, attention, ability to sequence through a task and problem solving.

The sessions will conclude with a preliminary plan of what to expect next. Once tests are scored our therapists will call you to discuss findings and therapeutic plans. Together with the parents' input, a plan will be developed to:

  • Discuss your role in your child’s therapy and any specific training they would like you to have.
  • Make sure you are comfortable with the therapeutic activities and exercises they would like you to do with your child at home
  • Answer your questions


The Rehabilitative Services staff numbers approximately 135 full- and part-time employees. The management team of the occupational therapy group includes:

Cheryl Patrick, PT, MBA, is the Director of the Departments of Occupational and Physical Therapy. She has dedicated her career to Lurie Children’s ― rising from student to staff therapist, to manager, to director. Cheryl likes to make sure we do what we say we’ll do for children and families everywhere, regardless of location. Her clinical focus includes infants, torticollis, and cerebral palsy.

Kris Razma, OT/L, MS, is the manager of occupational therapy. She has been a pediatric occupational therapist for 28 years with most of her experience working at Lurie Children’s. She along, with the clinical coordinator Janese, are committed to support the OT staff. Her special interests include working with children with coordination and sensory processing concerns.

Janese Petuchowski OTR/L, CHT, is the Clinical Coordinator of Occupational Therapy. She is actively involved with children and families affected by brachial plexus injuries, upper extremity injuries and post injury.

Make an Appointment

Please call 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC®) for an appointment for your child’s evaluation with our occupational therapists or questions and general information.

Follow-up appointments for ongoing occupational therapy visits at all our locations will happen on site or by calling a designated phone number.


Your support is important in helping us continue to make a difference in the lives of patients and families. Lurie Children’s relies on philanthropic funding to enhance its programs, services and research for children. To learn more, please contact the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation at foundation@luriechildrens.org, call 312.227.7500 or make a gift today.

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