At the Cerebral Palsy Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, your child’s medical needs are as important to us as their emotional and social well-being. We want your first visit with us to be a good experience. To help you prepare, here’s what to expect.
First Visit: Diagnosis, Finding the Cause and Discussing Treatment
During your first visit, your child will see one of our pediatric neurologists. These specialists will address any concerns that you have about cerebral palsy and your child’s medical care.
The pediatric neurologist can confirm a cerebral palsy diagnosis. They will also begin work toward finding the cause. Knowing the cause of cerebral palsy is important because it can guide the treatments. This helps to ensure your child receives the specific care they need.
You will also meet a physical or occupational therapist at this visit. They will discuss non-invasive treatments to help with motor, balance and muscle conditions. Our social worker may talk with you about emotional concerns or areas where you need some extra support. Lastly, many children also see an orthotist for bracing and/or an equipment specialist.
Please note that this comprehensive visit takes longer than a typical doctor’s appointment. Most families can expect to be at our center for two to four hours.
Your Child’s Care Team
At each visit to the Center, children and their families may see any the following providers on our team:
- A neurologist, who orchestrates the child’s care and guides other providers on the team
- An orthopedic specialist, who specializes in bone, joint or muscle conditions
- Physical and occupational therapists, who provide non-invasive medical care for various physical conditions
- A nurse practitioner or nurse coordinator, who provides nursing care and health checks at each visit
- An orthotist, who specializes in braces and casting for children with cerebral palsy
- A social worker, whose focus is emotional and social well-being, as well as assistance with home care and school needs
- An equipment specialist, who helps with wheelchairs, walkers and other equipment
Convenience of Teamwork at Each Visit
Children with cerebral palsy often need to see multiple doctors and providers. But that doesn’t have to mean lots of driving back and forth to and from appointments.
At the Cerebral Palsy Center, children and their families see a team — not just one provider — at every visit. Each member of your child’s cerebral palsy team has their own expertise. They work together toward one goal: to help your child reach their full potential.
Importance of Emotional and Social Support
When a child and their family are dealing with cerebral palsy, life can be challenging. We understand. That’s why we provide children and their families support for non-medical concerns, too. After all, a cerebral palsy diagnosis can affect aspects of your daily life.
You’ll work with a social worker to ensure you get answers, resources and support for concerns like:
- How can I help my child succeed at school?
- Where can I find support groups?
- How can I coordinate respite care for my child?
- What can I do about managing the cost of medications?
- Where can I find community activities and assistance?
Comprehensive Care Throughout Our Hospital
Sometimes, a child with cerebral palsy may need care from other specialties. At St. Louis Children’s Hospital, you and your child have access to our experts throughout the facility.
Your care team at the Cerebral Palsy Center can provide guidance and referrals to other services. This creates a comprehensive and seamless treatment experience. No matter what your child needs, our experts work together to ensure the best possible care.
Some of the additional services we provide at our facility include:
- Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC): AAC can help children who have difficulty with communication.
- Feeding team: This service can help with swallowing and other challenges with food and drinks.
- Neurosurgery: We offer one of the largest neurosurgery programs in the nation.
- Ophthalmology: Surgeons and specialists treat a range of visual (eye) disorders.
- Orthopedic Surgery: Our nationally ranked orthopedic program includes expert surgeons who perform leading edge techniques.
- Physical and occupational therapists: Pediatric-trained therapists work with children on a variety of muscle, joint and bone conditions.
- Psychology: Specialists in various areas of psychology and neuropsychology treat children and teenagers.
- Radiology services: We offer advanced imaging tests, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT scans, ultrasound and more.
- Seating and positioning clinic: This clinic provides the expertise of physical and occupational therapists and wheelchair specialists.
Make an Appointment With Us
If you’re a new patient, you’ll need a referral for care at our Cerebral Palsy Center. Please ask your physician to send us a referral before your first visit.