We are happy to share the midterm results of our early intervention project for children with special needs, which is in place in five cities in Russia.
The project was possible thanks to the Running Hearts charity race, organised with the support of Russian company PODIUM market. All the funds raised allowed us to begin the bold task of developing early intervention services for children with special needs in five cities in Russia: Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Tula and Tver. The project is gaining momentum and we are delighted to share the interim results with you.
In the city of Tula, in cooperation with the Centre for Children’s Psychoneurology, we have already seen clear progress. Since 2016, we have been raising staff awareness about evidence-based approaches. This is one of the Foundation’s signature projects, developed by our experts. The project curators are experts from the Department of Neurology at the University of New Mexico, led by Professor John Phillips, professor of paediatric neurology and paediatrics, and our own Naked Heart experts – child neurologist Svyatoslav Dovbnya and clinical psychologist Tatiana Morozova, who are also adjunct assistant professors in the Department of Neurology at the University of New Mexico.
The aim of the project is to increase awareness among the centre’s staff about up-to-date approaches to supporting children with cerebral palsy and to teach them effective techniques that can be implemented immediately.
Following a placement at the University of New Mexico, the staff’s approach to work has changed a great deal. The placement was supervised by the Naked Heart experts, who organised clinic visits, lectures, seminars and clinical discussions for the staff from Tula and meetings with specialists in various fields. The centre staff were able to expand their knowledge in areas such as physical therapy and nutrition and watch effective support methods being applied in practice. In addition to practical methods, they learned about working with parents and learned techniques for training and transferring knowledge to their colleagues.
The specialists also noted that they had to rethink their approach to work, including their main focuses. The support programme follows a new format. First of all, there is intensive communication with the child’s parents and the establishment of goals and objectives – for this purpose a special assessment scale has been introduced, which is completed by a doctor with the participation of the family. An individual assistance plan is then designed, and the results are monitored and evaluated using the same scale.
Sometimes even the most minor changes can produce amazing results. During the placement at the University of New Mexico, the centre’s doctors learned how to correctly position children with cerebral palsy, and these methods are now being taught to their parents. Often a child with cerebral palsy cannot physically eat if his or her body is in the wrong position, and without professional assistance, parents are unable to reposition the child’s body correctly. Correct positioning not only greatly facilitates the feeding process, but in some case also allows children to use their hands better or act independently without the help of their parents. Even a simple change such as this greatly improves family life, as the task of feeding the child becomes much easier and parents are able to get a few minutes’ rest.
In addition, thanks to the knowledge gained through the early intervention project, the centre’s specialists were able to get a broader perspective on problems faced by children with cerebral palsy and think about the early prevention of secondary disorders such as scoliosis and respiratory failure. The work with the children does not come to an end once they leave the centre. An individual exercise programme is developed and its results are monitored on a monthly basis. All this would not be possible without solid interaction with parents – communication with the family and the exchange of information increases effectiveness twofold and means that a tailored approach can be established for each individual child. In the past, less time was spent cooperating with the family; now the centre’s staff realise how important it is for parents and specialists to work together, share information and jointly set goals for the child’s programme.
Eight specialists from the Centre for Child Psychoneurology are involved in the project and 30 families with young children with cerebral palsy are benefitting from support. The Naked Heart experts regularly conduct supervision sessions for the centre’s staff, and also ensure constant communication with their colleagues from the University of New Mexico.
Together with the experts, the specialists discuss their progress and consult on daily issues. In March 2017, they had the opportunity to demonstrate the results of their work during a visit to the centre by the team from the University of New Mexico and the Naked Heart experts.
Having seen how much difference the simplest changes can make, the centre’s staff are ready to work hard and we are delighted by their enthusiasm.
>>> Read more about the 2016 adidas Running Hearts race…
>>> Read more about the early intervention programme…
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