Medical services

The medical services required by children with physical disabilities are a specialised area of paediatrics. The purpose of this page is to give you a chance to meet some of the paediatric specialists we can introduce you to as well as a better understanding of some of the medical services available for your child.

Access a range of services

Novita can help you access a range of these services via a special arrangement we have with the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Services include special clinics held at Novita regional offices, and specialist clinics and treatment services at hospitals (including the Women’s & Children’s Hospital). Strong links are encouraged and maintained between families, paediatricians, paediatric rehabilitation physicians, community agencies and the Novita therapy team working with each child.


Meet our doctors

Meet Dr James Rice, Head of Paediatric Rehabilitation

James Rice is the Head of Paediatric Rehabilitation and leads the partnership between the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Novita that provides this service to clients. James is a paediatric rehabilitation physician with over 20 years’ clinical experience. He is the current President of the Australasian Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, one of the three founding academies in the world of the International Alliance of Academies of Child Disability (IAACD).

After training in leading tertiary children’s hospitals in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, with additional international training in centres in the UK and Canada, James has developed high-level clinical leadership skills through the establishment of the Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service in Melbourne, and expansion of Paediatric Rehabilitation Services in Adelaide and the Northern Territory.

James undertakes research with an interest in movement disorders in childhood and dystonia in cerebral palsy, and presents at national and international conferences. He is an examiner for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and teaches Doctors training in paediatrics and paediatric rehabilitation.

Meet Dr Ray Russo, Paediatric Rehabilitation Specialist

)MBBS FRACP FAFRM(RACP)  Fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine of the Royal Asutralian College of Physicians

Ray Russo is  a paediatric rehabilitation physician providing the Novita medical services, run in partnership with the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital.


What does a paediatric rehabilitation physician do?

These medical doctors have a great deal of experience managing children with disabilities and their rehabilitation. They are also experts at managing some of the conditions associated with disability, such as spasticity, musculoskeletal issues, nutrition, growth and epilepsy. They are often involved with the family from the time of registration with Novita and this may continue for many years. The service that they can offer includes:

  • confirming the medical or developmental diagnosis
  • explaining (where this is known) why a child has a particular disability, for example, cerebral palsy due to a brain condition or muscular dystrophy due to muscle disease
  • talking over any concerns held by many parents about walking or mobility, talking or communication, care needs, and future life of their child
  • discussing accurately the importance of the child’s disability for the child and the family
  • providing an explanation of what is likely to happen for each disorder – this is important to make sure that any ongoing medical problems are regularly checked by way of procedures, such as x-rays, blood tests and being seen by other specialists
  • providing up to date information about new treatments and research
  • carrying out regular medical examinations to search, and where appropriate, put into practice the best intervention that will help the child to develop and function at their full potential and to do as much as they can in day-to-day life
  • making sure that medical problems associated with their disability, such as vision or hearing problems, are diagnosed and treated.

If you would like information or free advice, speak to someone in our friendly team on 1300 NOVITA (1300 668 482)


Rehabilitation clinics at Novita

Visiting  surgeons have a special interest and expertise in children with disabilities, especially those having spinal deformities and problem with feet and hips. Orthopaedic clinics held at Novita and hospital locations provide:

  • an opportunity for the surgeon, the paediatric rehabilitation physician and Novita therapists specialising in physical management to meet with the child and the parents
  • the opportunity to see if the child may possibly benefit from surgery or other interventions at some time in their lives.

Rehabilitation Clinics are held once a term at Novita’s metropolitan offices:

  • Novita St Marys office
  • Novita Parafield office
  • Novita Hindmarsh office


Rural paediatric rehabilitation clinics

Clinics are regularly conducted to the following areas:

  • Alice Springs (by special arrangement with the Northern Territory Government)
  • Mount Gambier
  • Naracoorte
  • Port Lincoln
  • Riverland
  • Whyalla


Other special clinics at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital

Clinics at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital at which Novita clients may be seen include:

Limb deficiency clinic

  • Clinics are held once a school term (4 times per year)
  • The clinic is for children who have a congenital or acquired limb deficiency and are likely to benefit from the services offered by the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
  • Prosthetic services are provided off-site.

Rehabilitation clinics at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital

  • Weekly clinics are run by a Rehabilitation physician and the Rehabilitation Registrar
  • Clinics are mainly for:
    • Short term follow up after acute inpatient care (for example, following an injury)
    • Follow up of medical, surgical and nursing matters for children with spinal cord injury or spina bifida
    • Monitoring of boys with muscular dystrophy
    • Any child requiring a rehabilitation physician opinion who is not a client of Novita.

Rehabilitation-orthopaedic clinics at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital

The clinics at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital are run by Rehabilitation Physicians, Orthopaedic Surgeon and the Rehabilitation Registrar and Fellow.

Children seen at the clinic include Novita clients and children with complex problems who are not necessarily Novita clients but who have been referred by the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Clinics are conducted two to three times each school term.

Botulinum toxin A treatment clinic

    • Clinics are usually held Wednesday afternoons.
    • Strict procedures apply for selection, timing and use of Botulinum toxin A. Careful follow-up is also required, involving the physiotherapist, occupational therapist or orthotist, to improve the outcomes of this treatment.
    • Treatment clinics are also held at the Flinders Medical Centre.
    • Botulinum toxin is produced by two manufacturers and goes by the name of Dysport (manufactured by IPSEN), and the more recognised product Botox (manufactured by Allergan). The potency of the products is very different and units are not interchangeable. Your paediatric rehabilitation specialist will be familiar with the differences and this can be discussed with them if required.

Read the following blog posts about Botulinum Toxin:

Botulinum Toxin Type A – General information for parents and carers

Botulinum Toxin Type A – Upper limb use for children with cerebral palsy


Connections with other hospitals

Novita doctors work closely with their colleagues at:

  • Flinders Medical Centre  – where some clients serviced by the Southern Region of Novita are seen by a Novita specialist in paediatric rehabilitation
  • The Lyell McEwin Health Service – is the ‘home base’ for many of the children in the Northern Region of Novita, and the hospital paediatricians work closely with the Novita medical staff
  • The Women’s and Children’s Hospital – at specialist clinics, such as Gastroenterology and Neurology

Connections with other general and specialist paediatricians

Many children registered with Novita have their own general paediatricians, and families are always encouraged to continue with this relationship. This can be especially important if the child is admitted to hospital for acute problems.

Families and children are also encouraged to have their own General Practitioner for their day to day health needs such as immunisations and minor illnesses.


Related external links

Flinders Medical Centre – South Australia

The Flinders Medical Centre is a major teaching hospital located to the south of Adelaide that provides a wide range of services, including services to children with physical disabilities.


SUMSearch is a free method of searching for medical evidence. SUMSearch selects the best resources for your question, formats the question for each resource, and makes additional searches based on results.

Women’s and Children’s Hospital – Paediatric Rehabilitation Department (South Australia).

The Paediatric Rehabilitation Department, part of the Child, Youth and Women’s Health Service (CYWHS), provides intensive rehabilitation for children/adolescents with an acquired reduction in function due to trauma, illness or medical procedures. This intensive rehabilitation service is available as an inpatient or outpatient, with referral back to community services as soon as it is appropriate.

Women’s and Children’s Hospital – Nutrition and Food Services page (South Australia)

Information is provided about the services provide by the team of highly qualified nutritionists specialising in clinical nutrition and nutrition promotion in the Nutrition Service at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia.

Women’s and Children’s Hospital – South Australia

The Women’s and Children’s Hospital

or visit our Contact Us page for more ways to get in touch.