Chronic respiratory disease

March 2010

Professional

Health care services for adults with cerebral palsy

Volume 39, No.3, March 2010 Pages 165-167

Barbara Field

Adam Scheinberg

Adam Cruickshank

Background

Increasing numbers of young adults with cerebral palsy (CP) are transitioning to adult services from coordinated multidisciplinary paediatric hospital services. Limitations on provision of adult services include inadequate funding, lack of trained staff, and fragmented medical, surgical and allied health teams.

Objective/s

This article summarises changes in treatments for children with CP over the past 2 decades and the implications for adult health care services. A multidisciplinary clinic for adults with CP at a tertiary adult teaching hospital in Sydney (New South Wales) is described.

Discussion

Over the past 2 decades, interventions such as botulinum toxin-A, intrathecal baclofen infusion, gastrostomy feeding and single event multilevel orthopaedic surgery have improved the lives of children with CP. These interventions are generally delivered within multidisciplinary rehabilitation programs in paediatric hospitals. As the most recent cohorts of children move into adulthood, they, and their carers, have expectations of similarly structured services in the adult health care sector. The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Westmead Hospital, together with The Spastic Centre of New South Wales, recognised this need and developed a multidisciplinary consultative clinic for adults with CP.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common physical disability in childhood.1 Over 33 000 Australians are estimated to have CP.2 Many adults with CP have ongoing complex medical and therapy needs and continue to benefit from coordinated, multidisciplinary health care services. Increasing numbers of young adults with CP are transitioning to adult services from coordinated multidisciplinary paediatric hospital services.3 The expectations of those patients for similarly structured adult services are not being met due to limited funding, lack of trained staff, and fragmented medical, surgical and allied health teams.

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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Professional