• 10/25/2021

    700 Children with Cerebral Palsy Receive Comprehensive Healthcare at HMC

    Dr. Murad Salem: 50 new cases of children with the condition received by Pediatrics Rehabilitation Department in 2021

    Doha, 25 October 2021: To mark World Cerebral Palsy Day, which occurs annually on October 6, the Pediatrics Rehabilitation Department at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Qatar Rehabilitation Institute (QRI) organized a series of awareness events for schools in Qatar.    

    The events included virtual lectures at a number of schools to highlight the condition and its associated disorders, including spasticity which is considered one of the most common symptoms in children with cerebral palsy. The events aimed at educating schoolteachers about the needs of children with cerebral palsy and how to act in emergency situations without risking the child’s health or life.       

    The lectures served as platform to educate attendees about the definition of cerebral palsy, latest local and global statistics, common causes of cerebral palsy, prevention, as well as to highlight care programs and services provided by HMC to children with cerebral palsy.    

    Dr. Murad Salem, Consultant Pediatric Neurorehabilitation at QRI said there are currently around 700 cerebral palsy patients being cared for by QRI’s Pediatrics Rehabilitation Department. He noted that the Department has received around 50 new cases of children with the condition so far in 2021. These children are referred to the Pediatrics Rehabilitation Department from either HMC hospitals, Primary Health Care Centers, or private medical centers and hospitals.  

    “Cerebral palsy, commonly known as CP, is the most common cause of motor disabilities in children. CP is a general term for a group of disorders that affect different parts of the brain. The human brain is divided into lobes and each lobe has its own functions, and therefore, the effect of CP can vary based on the affected area of the brain. In some cases, vision, hearing, and sensation are also affected. According to US-based centers for disease control and prevention, the condition affects up to 4 out of every 1,000 children worldwide,” added Dr. Salem. 

    Most children who are born with CP may not show signs of a disorder until months or a year later. While symptoms do vary, some of the common first symptoms parents may notice include delays in reaching developmental milestones, such as rolling over or crawling, variations in muscle tone, difficulty speaking, tremors, excessive drooling, and seizures.

    Dr. Salem says while there is no cure for cerebral palsy, early intervention and ongoing medical treatment are essential. He says therapy for movement, learning, speech, hearing, and social and emotional development are an important part of ensuring children with CP reach their full potential. He added that medications and surgery may also be necessary to help those with significant muscle pain and stiffness, or dislocated hips and scoliosis.

    HMC adopts a family-centered model of care where family and caregivers are involved in every decision made about their child’s treatment. Our multidisciplinary team, which includes physicians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and dietitians, work together with families to help these children and young people integrate into the community. 
    Dr. Salem says reframing how we view cerebral palsy is crucial to both ensuring those with the condition get the medical care they need and to reducing stigma and misconceptions about this neurological disorder. Historically, cerebral palsy was considered a pediatric condition. However, thanks to modern medicine and better healthcare standards, most children with this disorder now live into adulthood. 

    Dr. Salem advised pregnant mothers to look for early signs of the disorder in the fetus during pregnancy. If the mother notices that the movement of her unborn child is less than her previous pregnancies, then she should report that to her doctor. Mothers should also observe the movement and growth of their newborn children and consult with their doctors if they notice a delay in the child’s development or if child is showing signs of motor delay. Being aware of these symptoms is essential for the early detection, diagnosis, and medical intervention to better manage the condition and improve treatment outcomes as much as possible. 

    Dr. Salem noted that HMC’s ongoing collaboration with schools in Qatar has helped increase the number of schools that have specialized sections for rehabilitation of children with disabilities to about 50% of schools in the country, with plans to further increase the number to 80% of all schools in Qatar in the future.