When a child experiences a traumatic brain injury, the recovery process involves specialists, therapies, equipment, and time. But the most motivating goal for kids, parents, and their healthcare providers? Returning to play.

At Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital (MWPH), rehabilitation is about more than helping patients adapt to new normal after surgery or trauma. It’s about taking an interdisciplinary approach to care and paving a pathway so that kids can successfully re-integrate back into their communities. 

Abilities Adventure Program - Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital

“Therapy needs to be relevant,” said Susan Dubroff, director of rehabilitation services at MWPH. “And it has to involve the family and the patient.”

The team of caregivers at MWPH developed a comprehensive “Return to You” rehabilitation program that does just that. At the heart of treatment plans are patient-centered goals. Goals could be getting back in the pool at their local YMCA, playing a round of golf, obtaining a high school diploma, or getting ready for work. Medical providers then work collaboratively to help the patient attain that goal. 

Parents are closely involved in the goal setting and process. After all, the end goal is to return the child to their community. That means training mom, dad, or a caregiver to not only be able assist their child, but help improve their skills and independence. 

Certain injuries and illnesses can contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, especially after a traumatic brain injury, said Susan. The Return to You program aims to find a way for patients to have an active lifestyle for their health and mental wellbeing through recreational therapy. 

“We rely heavily on recreational therapy,” said Susan. “It’s an integrated department.”

Ability is a variable part of the equation.  If a patient in the “Return to You” program has a goal, the team at MWPH will help them achieve it. 

Abilities Adventure Program - Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital

Through Abilities Adventures, a project under the “Return to You” umbrella, patients participate in community-based activities like adaptive waterskiing, sailing, and travel. The program aims to connect current and former patients through ‘adventures,’ as well as introduce patients to new activities and experiences.

Even though research shows that recreational therapy positively impacts a patient’s recovery, it’s not covered by insurance. MWPH funds the Abilities Adventures program through the hospital foundation and charitable donations from local businesses and organizations. There is no cost to families and the hospital provides experiential opportunities several times a month.

Abilities Adventure Program - Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital

Recently, MWPH practitioners presented the “Return to You” program as part of the Brain Injury Association of Maryland annual conference. As leaders in the field of pediatric rehabilitation, MWPH hopes to expand access to the “Return to You” program, and continue to advocate for recreational, patient-centric care for children that experience traumatic brain injury.


Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital provides family-focused, integrated care to children with serious, chronic or complex medical needs. Since 1922, the hospital has helped children heal from illness and injury, and now treats nearly 9,000 patients each year. The 102-bed hospital is a jointly owned affiliate of The University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins Medicine and has locations in Baltimore City, Prince George’s County and in the community.  To learn more, visit www.mwph.org.