Physical and occupational therapy at Duke

Duke's licensed physical and occupational therapists are dedicated to excellence in the science and art of rehabilitation. We work with injured athletes and patients who are recuperating following surgery, including organ transplants and amputations. We help restore your function and mobility if you have experienced a traumatic injury, or have a developmental disorder. Our goal is to promote health and wellness, and prevent complications, while returning you to your daily activities. 

Condition-specific physical therapy and rehabilitation

  • Internationally recognized sports medicine experts. If a sports injury or medical condition has sidelined you from your favorite activity, our sports medicine experts use the most advanced methods to evaluate and treat injuries. We work with professional, nonprofessional and recreational athletes of all ages. 
  • Cancer rehabilitation. We work closely with you to alleviate pain associated with cancer and cancer treatment. We develop exercise and education programs to help you regain your mobility and perform activities of daily living. This has been proven to help increase the physical, spiritual, and psychological well-being of people undergoing cancer treatment.
  • Cardiac rehabilitation. Our physical therapists work closely with the Duke Heart Center to ensure you understand the precautions, exercise and activity guidelines that will help you recover from major chest surgery. We offer inpatient and outpatient services to people before, during and after surgery. We work with you to develop an exercise and rehabilitation program that improves your heart's function and strength, promotes endurance, and supports activities of daily living. Educating you about your condition and ways to improve your heart health are an important aspect of our work.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation. We provide the support you need to manage your lung condition. Our pulmonary rehabilitation program includes exercises to strengthen your body and mind.
  • Balance disorders. Our vestibular rehabilitaiton program works directly with ear nose and throat specialists who help you overcome balance disorders and inner ear problems. We evaluate your functional abilities, and assess positions or movements that provoke dizziness and unsteadiness. Based on these findings, we design an appropriate therapy program to minimize your symptoms, improve your balance, and increase your ability to function.
  • Digestive disorders. We help restore your mobility and return to daily living activities following treatment for digestive disorders that range from hernias and cancer. Our treatment plans are designed to return your gastrointestinal motility and function, which refers to how food moves through your gastrointestinal system. We also educate you on ways to prevent abdominal strain.
  • Neurological rehabilitation. We play an active role in the assessment and rehabilitation of patients who have neurologic impairments and need ongoing rehabilitation. This includes patients who experience stroke, traumatic brain injury, movement disorders and brain tumors.
  • Pregnancy and beyond. Pregnancy, childbirth and childcare all result in physical changes and new stresses on your body. We work with you and your physician to ensure you experience a healthy, active and comfortable pregnancy. We teach exercises and healthy habits to help you manage hand and wrist numbness or swelling, leg and foot pain, incontinence, and back and neck pain that may be associated with pregnancy and the child-rearing years that follow.
  • Spine function, strength and mobility. Your physical therapist will help you improve function, strength, and mobility in your back. Therapy may include exercises to treat your specific symptoms of back pain or to strengthen your back following surgery. In addition, a physical therapist will educate you on ways to use your spine properly while sitting, standing, and lifting. Physical therapy can also help prevent future episodes of back pain by teaching core strength exercises, helping to maintain flexibility, and demonstrating proper body mechanics, also known as ergonomics.
  • Pediatric programs. Our physical and occupational therapists specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of infants, children, and adolescents with a variety of congenital, developmental, neuromuscular, skeletal, or acquired disorders that may cause physical or occupational limitations. We work with your child to improve gross and fine motor development, balance and coordination, strength and endurance, eating or feeding, cognititve processing and attention, and sensory processing and integration.