They are our littlest patients, but their medical needs can pose the biggest challenges. Infants who have been born extremely premature, or are starting their lives with severe cardiac illness, tracheomalacia, pulmonary hypertension, neuromuscular problems or other serious conditions, require comprehensive treatment plans that often employ ventilator assistance to help them progress and become healthy and strong.
Imagine: A child in your care has just suffered a traumatic brain injury, and her family is need of answers, fast! You know that she would benefit from inpatient rehabilitation at PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick, but don’t know where to begin with the referral process.
Since becoming chief medical officer of Children’s Specialized Hospital just last year, I’ve seen extraordinary advancements and outcomes in our treatment of very medically fragile children faced with extremely complex medical conditions. I’ve watched already high acuity levels get even more complex, yet our acute inpatient pediatric rehabilitation programs have remained steadfast and successful in providing the most comprehensive care necessary to return patients home safely and as soon as possible.
Having surgery is difficult enough for an adult. For a child with complex medical needs, it can be particularly tough. The emotional and physical tolls of surgery on a pediatric patient with chronic illness or organ failure can be quite debilitating, leading to a less optimal medical condition before a procedure and a longer recovery period afterward.
Activity monitors like Fitbit have become an increasingly popular way for people to measure their activity level, typically by the amount of steps they take while going about their daily lives. For physiatrists and other clinicians specializing in pediatrics—who often must rely on subjective reports from patients and caregivers, as well as their own brief observations during regular visits, to gauge progress—such devices may be just what the doctor ordered to provide concrete, objective data about the mobility of pediatric patients using gait aids such as walkers, crutches and wheelchairs.