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Multi-Disciplinary Working

Nursing plays a very important role in multidisciplinary healthcare but for most people it is very easy to overlook this fact. Nurses are at the very heart of the multidisciplinary team, acting as the link between the patient and the medical team. For a patient suffering from cerebral palsy, as with other neurological disorders, the nurse is the primary contact person for the patient, in this case, acting as the intermediary (Damiano, Alter & Chambers, 2009). They are the people that maintain regular contact with the patient, often checking their progress and assessing their needs form time to time. In case, a patient needs anything while undergoing treatment and care from the team. Usually, it is the nurse who is first contacted. In addition to that it is the nurse who makes frequent visit to check how the patient is responding to their medication.

Therefore, a nurse is the one person that accounts for the patient and is similarly tasked with planning and evaluating the care for the patient. For incurable conditions as cerebral palsy, nurses are all the more important as they train patient on coping and adapting mechanisms to aid them gain more independence, something that could boost their self-esteem and improve the quality of life(Damiano, Alter & Chambers, 2009). Besides nurses being so close to the patient, they are also so close to the members of the patient family they maintain constant communication with the family members while updating them on how the patient recovery.

In this view, Multidisciplinary teams are usually composed of different health professionals, all with the common goal of offering patient-centered care and enhancing their quality of life. It is important for various individuals such as the nurse, psychologist and physiotherapist to work together in a well-coordinated manner so as to achieve the best results (Miller, 2007).

Nurses are major team player since they are tasked with being the liaison people in the course of the care. As such, the nurse has a vantage point when it comes to the monitoring and evaluation of the progress or otherwise being made by the patient. Patient needs are not constant and change by the day and in case the patient requires anything, they would first inform the nurse who would subsequently pass the information to the relevant person. Other members of the team may occasionally inquire from the nurse on matters involving the progress of the patient as well as passing on instructions on what is required of the patient.

Patients suffer from debilitating conditions such as cerebral conditions often find themselves battling mental illness such as depression. As part of the care extended to the patients, psychologists come in to offer to counsel to the patients, often seeking to encourage them to look beyond their disease and focus on getting better (Miller, 2007). In addition to that, they also assess the mental status of the patients and often provide status updates to the rest of the team on the mental well-being of the patient.

Mobility is one key aspect of an individual that is severely damaged by neurological illnesses. As a professional, a physiotherapist’s main role is to assist their patients live a more active live and achieve a greater deal of mobility (Miller, 2006). In addition, a physiotherapist may train family members or other care givers on how best to aid the patient with movement around their primary living environment (Miller, 2006).

Closely related to the physiotherapist is the occupational therapist whose main responsibility is to help the patient maintain mobility and function, adapt to their condition, and to maintain a certain level of independence or autonomy (papavasiliou, 2008). To this end, an occupational therapist would advise on matters such as home modification and acquisition of specialized equipment for the patient (Miller, 2006). Different people each with their distinct responsibility work together in a team proving care for patients. Cooperation and open communication are required from all the members for the undertaking to be successful and for the patient to get the best possible care (Miller, 2006).

While there may not be much regarding empirical evidence to support the multidisciplinary approach to managing cerebral palsy, there is nonetheless some bits of research that would seem to justify the practice. Treatment of cerebral palsy is multi-faceted and requires multiple activities almost simultaneously. Writing an article in the European Journal of Pediatric Neurology, author Dr. Antigone Papavasiliou of Penteli Children’s Hospital notes the fact that improving the mobility of a child suffering from cerebral palsy requires multiple approaches such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and neurodevelopment treatment (NDT) (papavasiliou, 2008). This fact seems to support the need for the presence of professionals from varied disciplines across the medical field in the management and treatment of cerebral palsy and other motor neuron disorders.

Most hospitals providing care for patients with cerebral palsy, especially for pediatric cases have interdisciplinary models of care which vary from one hospital to the next regarding composition of the teams and range of functions (Damiano, Alter & Chambers, 2009). There are very few and isolated cases where one would find clinicians providing care for cerebral palsy patients working in isolation (Damiano, Alter & Chambers, 2009). A gap exists though in that there has not been enough in terms of research on short and long term efficacy of care provided by multidisciplinary teams and its effect on quality of life (papavasiliou, 2008). This is a critical area that must be addressed in future.

The World Health Organization developed The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), and which was endorsed by the «World Health Assembly» in May 2001 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, n.d.). The key milestone of the policy has been the shift from focusing on disability to focusing on the health and function of individuals with various forms of disability (World Health Organization, 2002). The policy explicitly calls for more interventions to ensure that persons with disability are actively involved and live more productive lives.

Mobility and inability to live and work independently are two key challenges that persons with cerebral palsy face in their day- to-day lives. There is the need for a raft of measures to ensure that they are as productive and feel as valued as every other member of society. Cerebral palsy is an incurable condition, and the only way to measure the effectiveness of the intervention is by seeing patients being more reliable on their own as an example. This could include getting around more often with minimal assistance, being able to better communicate with other people and having more control of their bodily movements (papavasiliou, 2008). Multidisciplinary approaches must, therefore, be tailored to ensure that patients are more productive and have better quality of life (World Health Organization, 2002).


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare,. Introduction to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Damiano, D., Alter, K., & Chambers, H. (2009). New Clinical and Research Trends in Lower Extremity Management for Ambulatory Children with Cerebral Palsy. Physical Medicine And Rehabilitation Clinics Of North America, 20(3), 469-491.

Miller, F. (2007). Physical therapy of cerebral palsy. New York: Springer.

Miller, F. Cerebral palsy: a complete guide for caregiving. 2nd edition. Johns Hopkins University Press 2006.

Minnesota Evidence-based Practice Center,. (2012). Quality Improvement Measurement of Outcomes for People With Disabilities Closing the Quality Gap: Revisiting the State of the Science. Minnesota: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from

papavasiliou, A. (2008). Management of motor problems in cerebral palsy: A critical update for the clinician. European Journal of Pediatric Neurology. Retrieved 23 October 2015, from

World Health Organization,. (2002). Towards a Common Language for Functioning, Disability and Health ICF. Geneva. Retrieved from