Doha: 17 June 2023: The pediatric physical therapy outpatient department (PPT-OPD) at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) hosted a training workshop for parent caregivers of children with Cerebral Palsy. This workshop, held at Bayt Al Dhiyafah in Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical city, was inaugurated by Ms. Noora Al Mudhaka, Assistant Executive Director of Clinical Services (physical therapy) at HMC.
The workshop, themed "Wellbeing, Information, Support, and Empowerment (WISE)", aimed to improve the partnership and engagement of families of children with cerebral palsy in all aspects of their care. It is also designed to equip parents with information about various strategies to stimulate the child by capitalizing on the brain's capacity to rewire connections in-order to improve function and their participation in the community, the most enriching outcome. The activity was headed by Ms. Suzan Ibrahim, supervisor of pediatric physical therapy at HMC, along with members of her team.
The evidence-based workshop was developed to meet the gaps in family engagement as identified through parent surveys conducted as part of a research study carried out to identify family-centeredness of care and challenges experienced by families of children with Neuro-motor disabilities attending outpatient pediatric physical therapy services. This study was a pediatric physiotherapy department initiative awarded in the Internal Research Grant Cycle (IRGC), led by Mr. Joel Anison Specialist in Pediatric Physical therapy, Ms. Noora Al Mudhaka, along with two Senior Pediatric physical therapy researchers, Dr. Gillian Ferguson from the University of Cape Town and Dr. Eugene Rameckers from the University of Maastricht (The Netherlands) and Hasselt (Belgium). The findings of the study highlighted the need to empower the caregivers of children with Neuro-motor disabilities in Qatar, in-order to help the children to participate in the community.
Several in-house experts led the training sessions delivered in both English and Arabic languages and shared up-to-date information on the utility of various assistive aids to enhance function and participation of the child in the community. They provided information about basic facts about cerebral palsy, and the importance of participation according to the International classification of functioning. Disability and health (ICF) and consideration of the six ‘child development F- words’ (function, family, friends, fun fitness, and future) for better participation outcome.
Parents were also taught strategies to improve their general wellbeing. A session on the opportunities of modified sports available for children with cerebral palsy irrespective of their disabilities was an eye opener to the audience. Special sessions for the children and their siblings, such as fun games and face-painting were also conducted during the workshop.
During the workshop, families watched a video presentation featuring a testimony from a child with cerebral palsy who receives pediatric outpatient services at Bin Omran. The video highlighted how the child's participation, facilitated by his parents, transformed him into a more independent member of the community, with the help of his assistive aid. The child's ability to play his favorite sport (football), have fun with friends, visit new places, and even pursue his dream of becoming a YouTuber, served as a motivating moment for the audience, especially for other participating families and their children.
Encouraging more engagement of parents in the care of their child with cerebral palsy, in addition to the emphasis on functionality and participation of the child in the community, rather than trying to make the child, fit into a traditional normality framework, was the red thread that ran throughout the workshop. This successful training workshop has set a benchmark for providing appropriate information and support to the parents of children with cerebral palsy and it is expected to have a positive impact on the lives of these families in enhancing participation of their children within the community.