Bridging the gap: the role of Physiatrists in caring for adults with cerebral palsy.

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PURPOSE: Individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) experience a significant gap in care as they move from interdisciplinary pediatric programs to limited or non-existent care in the adult sector. A lack of knowledgeable adult care providers has repeatedly been identified as a challenge in transitioning those with CP from pediatric to adult care. The objective of this study was to determine the extent to which Physiatrists provide care to adults with CP and to identify barriers to their engagement with this population.
METHOD: A survey was distributed to Physiatrists across Canada. Results were analyzed descriptively using SPSS software.

RESULTS: Most Physiatrists provide care to very few adults with CP (10 or less), but over 80% feel that Physiatry is the most appropriate specialty to provide disability-related care to adults with CP following their pediatric discharge. Among the most frequently identified barriers to caring for this population were lack of accessible resources (i.e. social work, funded therapy, equipment) and lack of referrals.

CONCLUSIONS: Physiatrists are willing and appropriate partners in transitioning patients with CP to adult care. Barriers to Physiatrists’ engagement with this population appear to be amenable to change. Implications for Rehabilitation A lack of knowledgeable and interested adult practitioners has repeatedly been identified as a challenge in transition planning for young adults with cerebral palsy (the vast majority of whom survive into adulthood). Physiatrists are ideally suited to manage adults with cerebral palsy, yet in this survey-based study, a majority of Canadian Physiatrists report caring for less than five adults with cerebral palsy on a regular basis. Barriers to further physiatric involvement in this population were reported to include lack of accessible resources and lack of referrals.

Author information
1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Western University , London, ON , Canada .

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