Quality of Life Programs


About Our Quality of Life Programs


At Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, we care for patients’ medical needs and help them return to full lives. To meet this goal, we offer a number of programs designed to enhance their quality of life.

These programs ensure we can provide the best care to each and every one of our patients — body, mind and spirit. 

Adaptive Sports & Fitness


The Adaptive Sports & Fitness Program gives individuals with a primary physical impairment the opportunity to participate in a variety of year-round sports and recreational activities. Through the following offerings, we provide people of all ages and abilities with safe and welcoming opportunities to socialize and engage in physical activity and fitness. Programs within Adaptive Sports & Fitness include:

  • Adaptive Fitness is designed for people of all abilities and offers a broad range of services and classes to help participants be active and achieve fitness goals. Exercise physiologists work one-on-one with patients and community members to create individualized exercise programs.
  • Adaptive Sports is Chicago’s most comprehensive adaptive sports program, with year-round competitive and recreational sports opportunities for youth and adults living with a physical impairment. Each year, the program engages hundreds of athletes of all skills levels in a range of adaptive sports, including sled hockey and wheelchair softball, basketball and rugby.
  • Tengelsen Family Foundation Sports for Kids Program offers adaptive sports and recreation opportunities for children with a primary diagnosed loss of physical function. Activities promote fitness, independence, friendship and fun.

Learn more about Adaptive Sports & Fitness

Assistive Technology


The Assistive Technology Program gives patients access to our experts who assist with state-of-the-art devices, robotics and other adaptive technology and equipment. This opportunity helps enhance independence, comfort and quality of life. Plus, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is one of the few hospitals in the nation with the capability to customize any patient device right in our lab.

Child Life


Certified Child Life Specialists are degreed experts in child development who work with children and families to promote a positive hospital experience. Through education, therapeutic play and preparation for procedures, they help young patients manage the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury and trauma.

Learn more about Child Life Activities

LIFE Center


The Henry B. Betts, MD, LIFE Center is a state-of-the-art multimedia resource comprising more than 7,000 standardized, best-practice and peer-reviewed materials. All services and materials are designed to facilitate long-term recovery and active participation in life by providing peer mentors and support groups, as well as resources on returning to work, using transportation and more.

Spiritual Care


Our spiritual care program supports patients and their families as they confront challenges, summon courage and celebrate new abilities. Chaplains provide spiritual and emotional support to patients and their families through interfaith worship opportunities, consultation, complementary therapies and use of the Chapel space.

Therapeutic Recreation


Our therapeutic recreation program helps patients build on skills from other therapies, resume previous recreational interests or learn new ones. It also offers participants social outlets and opportunities to just relax and have fun. This type of programming nurtures body and spirit, and helps patients advance in their healing journeys through the following leisure pursuits, as well as activities-based outings, such as trips on public transit and to cultural events. Therapeutic recreation also includes:

  • Animal-assisted Therapy (AAT) engages specially trained dogs to facilitate positive changes in a broad spectrum of therapeutic settings. Under direction of health services and education professionals, AAT can promote physical movement, emotional well-being, cognitive awareness and social engagement for people with functional impairments.
  • Art therapy uses the creative process to improve physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. Through creating art and reflecting on the artistic process, patients can increase awareness of self, cope with symptoms and stress, and enhance cognitive abilities.
  • Music therapy collaborates with occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, recreational therapy, art therapy, child life services and chaplain services to integrate creative and engaging approaches through music as patients work to achieve their therapeutic goals.

Learn more about Therapeutic Recreation

Vocational Rehabilitation


Vocational rehabilitation helps patients maintain or find employment. The program empowers individuals to maximize employability, economic self-sufficiency, independence and integration into the workforce and community.

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