The World Disability report mentions that of 93 million children between 1-14 years present with a moderate to severe disability and 13 million with a severe disability. In low and middle-income countries, the literature reports a prevalence ranging from 0.4% to 12.7%. It also highlights that children in low and middle-income countries are exposed to multiple risks including poverty, malnutrition, poor health, and unstimulating environment, which can further impair their condition (WHO, 2011).
The ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Department is working in 30 countries in situations of conflict/post conflict and witnesses that the situation of children with Cerebral Palsy merits increased attention and care. Indeed, not only the prevalence is very high but those children and their families often don’t received basic minimal care, which ensures them an acceptable quality of life. For the families this adds an additional burden to an already challenging life (ICRC, Annual Report 2015).
Many professionals around the world neither benefit from any specialized training in paediatrics nor have access to the current literature. The ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Department have identified education in Cerebral Palsy as a priority. Through this course, the ICRC and Physiopedia aim to provide physiotherapists and other health related professionals free access to quality information on managing children with Cerebral Palsy, the ultimate goal being to increase theoretical knowledge as a basis for sound rehabilitation practice.
This course does not intend to discuss or debate on advanced theories, techniques or build on additional advances in research as there are many specialists around the world who already do a great job. The ultimate goal of this course is first of all to provide physiotherapists and other health professionals involved in the management of children with Cerebral Palsy around the world basic knowledge and references, which will further increase their knowledge and most probably their competencies. They will then be in the position to find, read, critically appraise and choose the references and techniques appropriate to their needs and context.
We also hope that the information shared will prevent physiotherapy interventions too far away from evidence based practice or even malpractice. Indeed, children with Cerebral Palsy should not cry during treatment, be systematically placed under electrophysical agents or benefit merely from passive or active range of movement. Mothers should not walk for hours to get the information and hope that their children will be “cured”.
Last but not least, we hope again to bridge the gap between professionals from low and high income countries and therefore enlarge the community of practice in the field of Cerebral Palsy for the benefit of all, children, families and professionals. For clinicians working in under resourced regions the magnitude of this problem is self evident, a paradigm shift in response to the need is essential to begin to give children with Cerebral Palsy a meaningful life.
“Children are a quality of life ... when our children are happy, then we are better as human beings." Whoopi Goldberg