Children who have strokes need physiotherapy and timely, comprehensive care

Children who have strokes should assessed by a multidisciplinary team that includes physiotherapists within 72 hours of admission, says new clinical guidance.


The Stroke in Childhood guidance says children should receive diagnosis and treatment more quickly. Photo: Nathan Clarke

The guidance was published by the Stroke Association and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health on 24 May. It sets out best practice for the long-term care of children who have a stroke, estimating the numbers at 400 each year in the UK.

Association of Paediatric Chartered Physiotherapists representatives Lucy Alderson and Sinead Barkey were members of a multi-professional team which helped to develop the guidance.

Improving levels of care

Dr Alderson, a specialist physiotherapist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, said: ‘Children with strokes do not have access to the same level of therapy care that adults do. This is partly due to the rarity of paediatric stroke and partly because of a problem in recognizing their changing needs.’

The guideline aims to address this by raising awareness and outlining best practice for the entire care pathway from diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation through to a child’s return to school.

It includes advice about how to identify strokes in children, explaining that in most cases the symptoms are similar to those in adults, such as weakness of the face or one side of the body and difficulty with speech.

Parental perspective

As well asproviding advice for clinicians, the guideline is also intended for parents, carers and families of children who experience stroke.

Ms Barkey, a specialist physiotherapist in paediatric complex motor disorders at Evelina London Children's Hospital, said: ‘The strength of the guideline for me is the strong parent voice, as it puts the child at the centre and thinks about how they function and participate in the world around them, and not just about their impairment.

‘And its recommendation that children are not only seen quickly but they are seen intensively, for as long as they are continuing to make progress.’

Author: Robert Millett

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