Three Phases of AMPS Treatment

There are three distinct phases of AMPS treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for children who require our intensive and therapeutic hospital treatment program:

  • Intensive therapy
  • Discharge and return to typical activities
  • Maintenance

This page will address each phase, how parents can support their children throughout the process, and address emotional support issues that may need to be dealt with during the healing process.

Phase I: The AMPS Program

The first phase of AMPS treatment involves intense physical and occupational therapy, psychotherapy, creative arts therapy and social work support. It occurs when patients in our therapeutic hospital treatment program – either Day Hospital patients or inpatients at the hospital – are present at CHOP’s Philadelphia campus.

The goal of Phase I is function. Our team focuses on increasing each patient’s functioning and providing them with the tools, motivation, confidence and independence they need to continue to make gains after discharge. Some children have a decrease in their pain during this first phase or find their pain resolves. For most patients, the reduction in pain is gradual as the work to improve their functional abilities.

While we would like pain to ease significantly or disappear as soon as possible, this is not the primary focus of treatment while in the AMPS Program. Restored function – and not pain reduction – is a requirement for discharge from the program.

Phase II: Discharge home

Following your child’s discharge from the formal AMPS Program, patients will enter the second phase of their AMPS treatment. During Phase II, patients should maintain normal function (i.e., going to school, participating in chores, sports and social activities), and attend psychological counseling.

Patients are given activity recommendations for leading an active lifestyle after discharge, including a formal home exercise program. They are strongly encouraged to avoid letting pain or the fear of pain dictate decisions they make regarding social contacts or activities they want to do.

If patients were not engaged in organized sports or active hobbies before this point, it is often helpful for them to identify and participate in new activities they may enjoy that also provide opportunities for exercise, such as playing sports, hiking, running, biking, playing games and outings with friends.

It is during this second phase that pain typically recedes significantly or fades away. The second phase of the program lasts different amounts of time for different people. Encourage your child to continue actively participating and moving their bodies as much as possible.

See additional post-discharge information.

Phase III: Maintaining wellness

The third phase of AMPS treatment is a maintenance phase that includes patients participating in normal activities with minimal or no pain. Patients no longer need to engage in formal home exercise programs or return for clinic visits, but are encouraged to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.

Patients may continue with psychological counseling, as needed. Patients continue with normal lifestyles and do not let pain or fear of pain dictate their decisions.

Parents’ roles in treatment

We recognize that when children struggle with pain, it’s common for parents to engage in “helping behaviors” on their child’s behalf. They may frequently ask how the child is feeling, swoop in to help with daily activities, or excuse the child from family chores or obligations.

While parents have been integral to this point in advocation for their children, the AMPS program requires parents to take a significant step back and shift in their role to better support their children. Instead of focusing on what your child is struggling with, we would like parents to turn their attention to:

  • Fostering independence for patients
  • Encouraging patients to refocus on caring for themselves and the rest of the family
  • Transitioning to Phase II of treatment

While patients are in our care, we encourage parents and caregivers to return to work, family, friends and hobbies. Parents visiting from out of town can use their days to explore Philadelphia attractions and use the time their child is in the intensive program each day to focus on themselves.

Support Services for AMPS

Learn more about other services offered to AMPS patients at CHOP: