We are lowering the age of diagnosis from 2 years to 6 months.
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is the most common physical disability in childhood and it affects 3.6/100 children in the US with about 10,000 new diagnoses every year. CP is a disorder resulting from sensory and motor impairments due to injury to the developing brain, with lifetime consequences that range from poor adaptive function to communication and emotional disturbances. The lifetime healthcare burden for a single individual with CP exceeds $1.5 M and the emotional and societal costs are incalculable .
However, while cutting-edge research continually develops effective treatment approaches, translating this research into clinical practice is challenging. The gap in knowledge translation is especially critical when caring for children under 3 years of age, when intervention has the biggest downstream impact on adulthood physical, neurological and social-emotional function. At the root of the problem, diagnosis of CP is given between 24 to 29 months in most US clinical settings, when the best window of opportunity to improve developmental trajectories - through interventions and supports to children, families, therapists and educators – would have passed. The delay in diagnosis is a direct reflection of an essential gap in knowledge translation. Therefore, the solution is to translate the current best evidence for early detection and intervention for CP through process improvement, culture change and education into sustainable practices integrated into the diverse environments of the US healthcare system. Translating the research evidence of guidelines into clinical practice is essential for safe, transparent, effective and efficient healthcare provision and for meeting the expectations of patients, families and society.
Dr. Nathalie Maitre
Director of NICU Follow Up Program and Medical Director of NICU Developmental Therapies at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
VP of Programs, Cerebral Palsy Foundations