MUHC leading $25M project for children with brain disabilities
When Avi Prupas was six months old, he was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy.
His parents went straight to work to find him the best possible care to increase his chances at a good life.
“The belief being the earlier you intervene, the more likely you are to have good progress and long-term lasting results,” said his father Aren.
Child Bright is a new Canadian research network, led by the MUHC Research Institute, which will try to help children like Avi who have brain-development issues. The $25 million project will receive half its funding from the federal government, with the remaining $12.5 million coming through private donations and funding.
Researchers in Montreal will direct projects that will co-ordinate with hospitals in Toronto and Vancouver to work on better outcomes for children with brain-based disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, autism-spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, or ADD.
The lead scientist at the research centre, Dr. Annette Majnemer, said the variety of projects being considered includes brain stimulation, the development of new drug therapies, or videogames that could help children learn and cope.
"We're really hoping to provide new innovative therapies early on when the brain is still malleable and can be optimized, but also more effective service delivery models, because right now, it's not well coordinated and there are very important gaps in service," she said.
There are about 850,000 Canadian children with brain-based disabilities, equivalent to 10 per cent of the population.
Some, such as those with cerebral palsy, need life-long support.
Dr. Majnemer said that often when children reach a certain age, parents are at a loss for where to get support.
Part of the research centre's funding will go toward helping parents coach them through the health care system and guide them to appropriate support groups.