FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Charlottetown, PE (February 19, 2014) – Mike Redmond, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Prince Edward Island is calling on Health PEI to immediately improve child physical medicine services.
“How is it that adults who require physical therapy can access two appointments per week, while children get only one appointment per month?” asks Redmond. “This is completely unacceptable.” Redmond commented after meeting with Jeff Matheson whose young daughter suffers from hemiplegic cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture caused by injury to the brain, most often before birth. Symptoms such as impaired movement, floppiness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, and unsteadiness of walking appear during infancy or preschool years.
“Health PEI has stated that their current three year strategic plan includes improving access for special needs children,” states Matheson. “When presented with this service gap in children’s physical medicine, Health PEI claimed they plan to increase a part-time physiotherapist position to full-time. There are plans to hire a coordinator that will be shared between departments, whose aim is to reduce administration workloads. These changes won’t be enough to ensure that over 150 children in the province currently being serviced by the department will receive the same level of service as adults.”
Intensive physiotherapy during the preschool years could help keep the Matheson’s daughter out of a wheelchair, but the level of service offered by Health PEI is putting that outcome in jeopardy.
“Minister Doug Currie needs to address this gap in services right away to ensure that children with such demanding health circumstances receive the appropriate level of care,” continues Redmond. “Our children deserve the same level of service as adults. There is no silver bullet for cerebral palsy, but early, aggressive intervention certainly improves quality of life later on.”
Leader, NDP PEI