Play Strong :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Play Strong

Being active is good for you! Increasing activity levels can produce physical, psychological, social and academic benefits. There are many reasons why children and adolescents have low fitness levels, especially within the hospital environment. That’s why experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine have developed Play Strong, a medically-supervised, wellness program.

Using “play” to show that exercise can be enjoyable, Play Strong is a fun and exciting program that guides participants to create healthy habits at home. Making small changes each week, driven by the participants themselves, helps to ensure long-term success.

Physical Activity

There are four primary goals of the Play Strong: Physical Activity program. We aim to change the patients’ and families’…

  1. Thoughts and attitudes towards physical activity
  2. Habits at home regarding Physical Activity vs. Physical Inactivity
  3. Functional movement skills and fitness measures, including strength, coordination, balance, and endurance
  4. Confidence to engage in a variety of physical activity with friends and peers

After a patient’s initial evaluation, the patient will receive a recommendation for one or more of the following options of programming:

  • 1:1 Rehabilitation sessions
    • For those not able to keep up in a group setting and need 1:1 attention to address functional movement skills and musculoskeletal deficits at a slower pace.
  • PA101: Intro to Physical Activity
    • Our Play Strong partners are brought in (or sometimes we travel to them) to introduce our patients and families to many fun and creative ways to be physically active.
  • Group Exercise & Play class, which combines both of the following elements.
    • Exercise… using traditional equipment (BOSU, stability balls, medicine balls and hand weights) in a circuit format.
    • Play… these games are fun, but do not worry, they will still give you a great workout.
  • Strength & Conditioning
    • For those higher-functioning patients, who have begun to change their habits and are ready to take their training to the next level.

Nutrition (optional)

Nutrition is an important part of your child’s overall health, especially when they are living with or recovering from a chronic condition. As part of the Play Strong program, patients have the opportunity to meet with a registered dietitian for an initial consultation and further sessions. The dietitian will help patients and their families create a healthy nutrition plan and set individualized goals for everyday success to improve their energy level as they increase physical activity!


Referrals can be made to the Play Strong Program from within Nationwide Children’s by searching “Sports Medicine Play Strong” or “Sports Medicine Play Strong w/ Nutrition”). From outside the hospital, prescriptions can be written for Athletic Training or Functional Rehabilitation. Please be sure to include all pertinent diagnoses and comorbidities, as well as a clearance for physical activity. They may be faxed to 614-355-6072.

In 2014 referrals for our programming were received from the following:


Billable to insurance


For more information, please contact Travis Gallagher, AT, at (614) 685-2183 or

Pediacast discussion on childhood obesity

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000