Hands for the Future
Hands for the Future
Children with neurodisabilities such as cerebral palsy are at great risk of adverse musculoskeletal changes, where poor limb function and positioning lead to muscle tightening and shortening, causing permanent limiting of the range of movement. This puts their development at risk because they cannot experiment, investigate, explore or learn by trial and error, as able-bodied children do, even though they may be cognitively able. Children may also need painful and distressing surgery resulting in a hospital stay, recovery time, and disruption to family and school life for children who already face so many physical, social and emotional challenges.
The risk of this can be greatly reduced if upper limb function is correctly assessed, treated, and proactively managed.
Children’s access to the wide range of childhood play and learning experiences can be restricted simply because their limbs cannot do what the child wants and needs them to do. They learn early on that they cannot achieve and can become demotivated. This in turn can have a hugely adverse effect on their mental wellbeing, the development of their personality and the motivation they need to maximise their lifelong independence.
Every county provides upper limb therapy differently. However, these generic services typically lack experience and the specialist expertise of treating children with cerebral palsy. Waiting lists for these services can be up to 2 years, splints can be ineffective and are often provided without any follow up or training for parents in their use. The Pace Upper Limb Therapy Service is not funded through either local authorities or the NHS – and we must raise the funds required to sustain and develop it each year.
The children accessing the Pace ULT programme benefit from effective, safe, individually tailored therapeutic upper limb assessments, reviews and interventions. This will maximise each child’s upper limb function, and minimise the risks of pain and discomfort, and the need for more drastic interventions such as surgery. Each child’s increased ability to effectively use their limbs will enable them to explore, play and learn more easily, leading to greater lifelong independence and improved wellbeing.