Dr Ebenezer Badoe, a Neuro-Peadiatrician at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital has recently reiterated the need to implement a multidisciplinary approach in working with patients with cerebral palsy.
…if you are a good doctor and cannot communicate properly with your client, then you are not that good
He explained that cerebral palsy patients may have different issues that require various professionals able to handle and promote better understanding of the condition among health workers.
Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive neurological disorder caused by brain injury or malformation while the child’s brain is developing. It affects body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, and sometimes the speech of the child.
The condition thus requires the expertise of specialists including a neurologist, a physiotherapist, a speech and occupational therapist, orthotics, nutritionists or dietician, a peadiatrician among others for efficient management.
Dr Badoe said this at a forum to disseminate the findings of a two-year research that sought to evaluate the impact of a community-based parent training programme for children with cerebral palsy in Ghana.
The research is a partnership between the International Centre for Evidence in Disability (ICED) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in collaboration with CBM, the School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences, College of Health Sciences, the University of Ghana and the Health Directorate of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana.
Dr Badoe also acknowledged the absence of a proper communication strategy between health professionals in general and parents of children with cerebral palsy and said there was a programme in place to train especially medical doctors in that regard.
“We are working to train all medical doctors in communication, if you are a good doctor and cannot communicate properly with your client, then you are not that good,” he said.
The forum which brought together stakeholders working on cerebral palsy also discussed the way forward to ensure efficient management and the need to increase awareness on cerebral palsy.
Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, the National Child Health Coordinator at the Ghana Health Service, said the service was working to ensure that health professionals at the grassroot get to know more about cerebral palsy to enable them to recognize early signs.
Ms Maria Zuurmond, a research fellow at the ICED, said that the overall project showed a significant improvement in quality of life and also knowledge base reported by caregivers.
“Caregivers reported positively about small changes in their child’s development and felt this gave them hope”.
“We found that the knowledge about the child’s condition improved significantly, which was particularly important given that most had never received proper diagnoses about their child’s condition.”
Ms Zuurmond said there was some small improvement in access to education, but children were also likely to drop out of school unless they had support and understanding from peers and teachers.
She went on emphasise that the mortality rate of children with cerebral palsy remained disproportionately high when compared to the standard population
“In total, eight children died over a 12 month period, six girls and two boys between identification in June 2015 and End line in June/July 2016. The standard mortality ratio is 14.61 for children between one and five years, meaning the children are 14.61 times more likely to die than children in standard population”.
Some beneficiaries of the project who shared their experiences testified that it has been very beneficial to them and their children and called for more of such programmes and support.
Master Gabriel Narh, a 13 year old boy with cerebral palsy, also a beneficiary of the project, said he started school only about 18 months ago after he joined the project.
“Before then, I wasn’t going to school, she thought I could not do anything with my life and I also thought same but now through the project I have hope that I can do something with my life.”
Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Initiator of the Special Mothers Project, a project that advocates and creates awareness on cerebral palsy, said the lack of coordination among health professionals and sometimes the lack of understanding of the condition by some health professionals put parents under intense stress.
Some participants at the forum expressed concern about the lack of assistive devices in Ghana, the lack of awareness about cerebral palsy, and the lack of social support that make many families with cerebral palsy children go through intense stress.
They called on government, corporate organizations and individuals to support programmes that advocate for cerebral palsy issues in Ghana.