Recent studies have confirmed the link between medical issues requiring Intensive Care Unit (ICU) treatment and developmental delays in children with congenital heart disease.1,2 The Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Clinic at Penn State Children’s Hospital is one of fewer than 20 programs in the country designed to provide both early assessment and early intervention for this population.
Children are typically referred to the Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Clinic by pediatric cardiologists or cardiothoracic surgeons, and are monitored at ages associated with significant developmental milestones through childhood and adolescence (6-9 months, 18 months, 24 months, 3 years, 5 years, etc.). Areas monitored include a child’s receptive and expressive language, cognitive development, play skills, adaptive skills and fine and gross motor development. “Our evaluation is based on a combination of screening, rating scales and direct testing,” says Cheryl Tierney, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and section chief, behavior and developmental pediatrics. “This allows us to provide an individualized plan for each patient. Our multidisciplinary team includes a nurse practitioner, cardiology physician assistant, occupational therapist, pediatric neuropsychologist and a feeding specialist who is a speech and language pathologist.”