Andrea S. Kuldanek, MD
Dr. Kuldanek is the medical director of the Pediatric Program and past chief of staff of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. She is double board-certified in pediatrics and physical medicine and rehabilitation. A graduate of Wayne State University Medical School, Dr. Kuldanek has been a part of the Mary Free Bed staff since 1982. She has worked with the pediatric teams at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital and the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for more than 32 years in the habilitation and rehabilitation of children and adolescents with birth related and acquired disabilities of all types.
Amanda C. Ayala, MD
Dr. Ayala recently joined Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital as a full-time pediatric physiatrist. She came to us from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. At this hospital, which is the teaching hospital for Columbia University, she completed a fellowship in pediatric rehabilitation with emphasis in the management of spasticity. Dr. Ayala, who is fluent in Spanish, treats patients with a variety of impairments and diagnoses. Her outpatient practice focuses on spasticity management, orthopedic rehabilitation and other childhood neurologic conditions.
A.J. Rush, MD
Dr. Rush is triple board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, pediatrics and pediatric rehabilitation medicine. His previous experience includes private practice in pediatric rehabilitation and spasticity management and serving as the attending pediatric physiatrist at The Children’s Institute in Pittsburgh, Pa. Dr. Rush also completed a fellowship in gait and motion analysis at MossRehab in Philadelphia, Pa. Additionally, Dr. Rush belongs to the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Cerebral Palsy & Developmental Medicine.
Pediatric Nursing Staff
Our pediatric nursing team is made up of enthusiastic professionals who specialize in the care of children. The registered nurses and nurse technicians work together around the clock to meet the child’s individual needs. The nursing staff are patient and family advocates who assist in providing communication with the entire interdisciplinary care team. Our nursing team is devoted to providing high-quality care to every patient we serve.
Pediatric Occupational Therapists
Our pediatric occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants focus on improving your child’s ability to perform the many various activities of daily life at home, school and in the community. They will:
• Evaluate and improve your child’s fine motor skills, strength, coordination and muscle tone to promote independence for self-care, such as getting dressed, eating and performing personal hygiene
• Evaluate and perform exercises to improve your child’s vision and related visual problems
• Work with your child on using their hands together for play, writing, typing, using a computer and other tasks
• Identify, fabricate and train your child to use adaptive equipment, if necessary, to perform tasks from self-care to schoolwork, hobbies, snack or meal preparation and even job skills
They may even take your child out of the hospital to practice these skills in community settings and to prepare your child to safely function in the community.
Pediatric Physical Therapists
Our pediatric physical therapists are experts in how children develop and move about in their environments. They will:
• Evaluate your child’s muscle tone, strength and movement
• Provide therapeutic exercise to strengthen muscles
• Reduce abnormal tone and spasticity
• Build endurance
• Improve balance
• Correct gait abnormalities
• Determine assistive devices and equipment (such as braces, crutches, walker, wheelchair) needed to safely move about in home, school and community environments
• Seek information about the layout of your child’s home to help problem-solve any barriers affecting your child’s ability to move about within the home and identify modifications that may be helpful such as a ramp, widening of doors, railings or grab bars, etc.
Physical therapist assistants, working under the direction of physical therapists, also may work with your child to carry out therapeutic exercise and practice skills learned in physical therapy.
While much of the focus will be on physical rehabilitation, your child’s emotional well-being is just as important. Our pediatric psychologist is available to support your child’s coping and adjustment to illness, injury and hospitalization. Children don’t always have the vocabulary to express their feelings. The psychologist is an expert in helping your child, family and team to understand and manage behavioral expressions of your child’s experience and promote participation in the rehabilitation process.
This is a board-certified specialist with advanced training in understanding the brain and how developmental or acquired conditions affecting the brain impact behavior, learning and social functioning. Our pediatric neuropsychologist works as a member of the pediatric team and assists in planning for return to school. This specialist performs testing to diagnose certain developmental conditions and to guide decision making concerning school service planning and placement.
Pediatric Recreational Therapists
Therapists in this field build on what other therapists do and help your child re-integrate into the community. Your child’s certified therapeutic recreational therapist will:
• Identify your child’s favorite activities and create a plan to help your child return to these activities
• Help your child strengthen weak muscles or learn different movements to regain skills, modify existing leisure or recreational equipment or try a new piece of adapted equipment if necessary
• Take your child on outings to learn how to manage personal barriers, use public restrooms and cross streets
The Mary Free Bed YMCA, which will open in the fall of 2015, is a national model for inclusion. It will be available for Mary Free Bed pediatric patients to learn more about Mary Free Bed’s adaptive sport programs, enjoy the pool and exercise equipment and meet others who are enjoying their lives.
Pediatric Registered Dietitians
Whether your child is eating by mouth or needs a feeding tube, our dietitians evaluate your child’s nutritional needs – including any food allergies – and help to establish an appropriate plan to meet them. Members of our nutrition services team provide education about delicious ways to meet your child’s needs and can assist you and your child in selecting menu items from our child-friendly pediatric menu.
Pediatric Social Worker
All of our patients are assigned a social worker on the first day of admission to the hospital. The social worker becomes the primary contact person for the family. Our pediatric social worker has years of experience providing individual and family counseling for families of children with rehabilitation needs. They help your child and you:
• Learn about and adjust to the impact of your child’s injury and rehabilitation process
• Make preparations for your child’s return home and to school
• Act as a liaison between your family, your child’s treatment team and case management representatives to your insurance company
• Provide information and referrals for financial and other community resources (accessible housing, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Children’s Special Health Care Services, support groups, advocacy, education and more)
• Obtain follow-up therapy or nursing care services
Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologists
Pediatrics is a specialty in and of itself. It requires an understanding of how cognition, language, communication and even swallowing develop normally as a child grows and changes from infancy throughout childhood and adolescence into young adulthood. Illness or injury at any point of development can significantly affect the child’s functioning. Our pediatric speech language pathologist is responsible for the evaluation and treatment of:
• Cognition, learning and memory
• Language, communication and speech or other forms of communication
• Problem solving
• Voice and fluency
• Swallow function