Occupational Therapy

The Occupational Therapy (OT) department provides specialized evaluation and treatment for children to develop or regain maximum independence in daily living skills and enhance participation in developmental and school activities.

Occupational Therapist working with patient

Contact information

Julie Knitter, OTR, Director of Occupational Therapy and Assistive Technology

Referral Information

To make a referral for Occupational Therapy, please download the referral form.

Referral Form

About Our Department

The occupational therapists at Blythedale Children’s Hospital are dedicated, experienced professionals with specialized knowledge in working with children ranging from medically fragile infants to teenagers recovering from traumatic injuries.  They are passionate about providing the best possible care for each child so they can perform the tasks they want and need to do.  They work collaboratively with each child’s family and care team to build shared understanding of child’s abilities and needs, set child-centered goals, and provide training and education for carryover of skills. Treatment sessions are child centered using a supportive and playful approach.

Our Services

Services Include:

  • Comprehensive evaluation of child's capabilities and needs
  • Establishment of individualized treatment plan in collaboration with caregivers
  • Treatment to regain or develop the skills necessary to achieve the highest level of function and independence
  • Collaboration with families and caregivers to adapt tasks, modify environments, or recommend equipment to maximize child's participation in daily activities
  • Recommendations for durable medical equipment needs (bath equipment, seating and positioning needs) through the Seating & Mobility Service

Areas of treatment may include:

Occupational Therapy Lead Contacts

Profile photo for Julie Knitter

Julie Knitter, OTR, ATP

Director of Occupational Therapy and Assistive Technology

Profile photo for JeanMarie  Florkowski, O.T.R., A.T.P.

JeanMarie Florkowski, OTR, ATP

Senior Occupational Therapist/Assistive Technology Professional

Profile photo for Barbara Donleavy-Hiller, O.T.R./L, A.T.P., C/N.D.T.

Barbara Donleavy-Hiller, OTR/L, ATP, C/NDT

Senior Occupational Therapist/Assistive Technology Professional

Profile photo for Tracy French

Tracy French

Assistive Technology Coordinator

Treatments We Support

As technology continues to advance, children with special needs are becoming increasingly more integrated into the world around them. Blythedale's comprehensive Assistive Technology program, one of only a few such programs in New York State, is opening doors for these children.

With the only dedicated post-acute pediatric brain injury unit in New York State - specifically constructed to treat children and adolescents with brain injuries - and our expertly trained clinical team, Blythedale is uniquely positioned to provide the best environment for recovery.

Blythedale is the only specialty children’s hospital in New York State with the capability of providing the highest level of medical care and rehabilitation for children recovering from complex medical conditions, including childhood cancers.

Blythedale’s commitment to the highest level of medical and rehabilitative care, and ongoing integration of the newest cardiac support technologies for medically fragile children, is evident in our Cardiac Rehabilitation program.

As an expert in helping medically fragile children achieve their highest potential, Blythedale is well-suited to help transition a child with multiple complex chronic conditions from hospital to home.

For children recovering from multiple traumatic injuries, extensive orthopedic surgery or complex surgery, Blythedale offers a highly specialized, integrated approach to care.

Blythedale is a center of excellence in treating children with complex burns and wounds. The goal of the complex wound rehabilitation team is to obtain maximum autonomy and functionality while maintaining the optimal integrity of the healing wound or grafts with scar control.

Blythedale is widely recognized as a leader in treating children with rare conditions, spinal cord injury, neuromuscular disorders including muscular dystrophy and other myopathies, neuropathies, motor neuron diseases and neuromuscular junction disorders as well as complex genetic syndromes.

Blythedale has a commitment to achieving the best outcomes for infants coming for intensive rehabilitation following Neonatal Intensive Care stays. With a staff of full-time neonatologists overseeing the care our infants, and the addition of neonatal fellows, Blythedale continues to push the boundaries of what post-acute neonatal care can provide to medically fragile infants.

At Blythedale Children’s Hospital, a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, pediatric attending staff supports infants, children and adolescents prior to and following complicated transplant procedures including heart, liver, kidney, bowel, and even multi-organ transplants.

Pulmonary hypertension is relatively rare, occurring in only two children per one million. Despite its low occurrence, Blythedale treated 30 children with pulmonary hypertension last year.

Blythedale’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation program is widely recognized as a national center of excellence due to the Hospital’s extraordinary success weaning fragile infants and children from respiratory support machines for an improved quality of life. Our parent training programs help ensure that caregivers are both confident and competent in caring for their child.

As the only pediatric specialty hospital in New York State, Blythedale Children’s Hospital has the ability to evaluate and treat complex feeding difficulties in children with a team of pediatric specialists who work exclusively with medically fragile children.