Pediatricians Urged To Coordinate Therapy For Kids With Disabilities
Doctors are being told to do more to ensure that children with disabilities have access to needed therapies while steering clear of unproven treatments.
In a report out Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics, physicians are being encouraged to coordinate care with physical, occupational and speech therapists so that kids with disabilities can gain or recover important skills.
“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,” said Dr. Amy J. Houtrow, lead author of the report. “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.”
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The pediatricians’ group indicates that doctors should be as clear as possible when writing prescriptions for therapy. Nonetheless, the guidance acknowledges that determining the appropriate frequency and duration of therapy sessions “remains elusive and largely subjective.”
“Strong collaboration between the family, the treating therapists, specialists and the pediatric medical home provider helps identify the best dosing strategies that consider the child’s health, current functional status, goals, readiness for therapy, response to intervention and cessation of services, if warranted,” the report states.
The guidance notes that an increasing number of children have neurodevelopmental conditions. While the report focuses on physical, occupational and speech therapy, it highlights that applied behavior analysis is often used for those with autism, but refers providers to a previously issued document with details about facilitating that treatment.
In addition to making sure that kids with disabilities have access to appropriate therapies, the guidance is also warning physicians against prescribing unproven approaches. One such treatment that the group is calling out is the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for cerebral palsy. This treatment has not be validated and could have harmful effects, the pediatricians’ group said.
“Treatment success that is only supported by case reports or anecdotal data and not by carefully designed research studies warrants further investigation and discussion before prescribing,” the guidance states.