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AAP Report Advises on Therapy Services for Children with Disabilities


An American Academy of Pediatrics clinical report recently described how health care providers can best connect the rising number of children who have disabilities with evidence-based therapy services in hospital, community, home, and school settings. “Prescribing Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy Services for Children with Disabilities,” highlights the importance of coordinating care with therapists to help children gain or recover key skills. “Understanding how certain conditions impact the way children function day-to-day is becoming increasingly important, because more and more children are living with complex health conditions and disabilities,” said the report’s lead author, Amy J. Houtrow. Childhood disability, especially from neurodevelopmental conditions, is increasing, according to the report. This includes acquired disability, such as from a broken bone or traumatic brain injury, as well as ongoing conditions such as cerebral palsy. “The goals we have for children with disabilities are the same goals we have for all children--for them to be happy, healthy, and able to participate fully in life,” Houtrow said. “Physical, occupational, and speech therapy can help children reach these goals by developing new skills, regain lost skills, and accommodate for skills that may not be developed or regained.” Authors of the report warn against prescribing unproven therapies. For example, some people use hyperbaric (pressurized) oxygen to treat cerebral palsy. This treatment has not been proven effective and could have harmful effects to the child. In general, treatment successes supported only by case reports or anecdotal data, rather than carefully designed research studies, warrants further investigation and discussion before prescribing, according to the AAP.

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Tags: Health, Special Needs

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