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Health and medical needs

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Assignment Health and medical needs to be addressed by schools for neurologically impaired children Neurologically handicapped children have special health needs that must be addressed by any school providing integrated curricula for such children. The level of handicap varies from mild to severe, and schools must initially define the level of impairment they are prepared to cope with before planning the delivery of their services. The following areas need to be addressed ;
1. Targeted physical and patterning therapy : This forms an important part of the curriculum, as recent research has shown that daily therapy helps in utilizing the plasticity of the brain to re-organize and improve movement and motor activities in children. Elements of self-care should also be built into such therapy, like eating, brushing, dressing, communication and a range of movements culminating with walking/running. Patterning therapy (1) is useful in a range of brain injuries.
2. Preparedness for medical emergencies, injuries and neurological crises. In the population of neurologically impaired children there are diverse causes, and most often specialized centers for groups such as autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy exist to organize knowledge and experience better. It might often be difficult to detect medical crises due to poor communication, and it is important to be vigilant and aware of the issues involved and deal with them promptly. Hostility and behavioural issues are also common, and may present as crises, and carers / staff must be well-prepared to deal with such eventualities.
3. Nutritional issues : Brain injured children often have special feeding requirements through the use of nasogastric feeding tubes, stomach tubes and stomas, with special dietary formulations. In addition many children might be on avoidance and special diets e. g. phenylketonuria, and need special provisions. It is also important to remember that these children are at a higher risk of aspiration and lung complications, and need careful feeding. Gastric reflux is an extremely common problem too, and needs special attention. Regular growth monitoring is also essential.
4. Special needs : Many of these children have multiple sensory impairments like blindness, deafness, involuntary movements, paralysis or other severe behavioral issues like dyslexia, hyperactivity, etc. These special health needs must be catered to for successful educational outcomes in schools.
In order to provide for these needs, schools should :
(a) Train or retrain staff through neurological agencies and institutes so that they can understand and cope with these issues better, and gain practical exposure;
(b) Try and develop competences with specific types of neurological impairments as a policy for cost-effectiveness and streamlined delivery of special-needs services;
(c ) Have good links with local clinics and hospitals as health problems and medical crises often start at school. These also include facilities for emergency transfer.
(d) Recruit hygienists and nutritional therapists/nurses to provide ongoing specialized nutrition for these children, plus ongoing monitoring of weight and growth;
(e) Organize a number of specialized therapists into a comprehensive well-coordinated service – language therapists, physiotherapists, nutritional therapists, speech and language therapists, play therapists, art therapists as well as possible;
(f) Build a comprehensive educational curriculum with special needs educators, individualized to specific educational requirements of the different groups of impairment.
References
1 Patterning movement therapy. On : http://www. theautismcentre. co. uk/articles/patterning_movement_therapy. html

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