Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Neuroscience Center Innovates, Grows

MGHfC Clinicians Share Their Vision for Improved Care of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

The Neuroscience Center at MassGeneral Hospital for Children is a growing program designed to accelerate research and provide state-of-the-art care for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. In its current structure, it is a virtual multispecialty hub where a variety of specialists provide patients with intensive, coordinated medical care, and where staff strives to improve diagnostic and treatment methods through research and education.

“The bottom line is excellence in clinical care,” Chief of Pediatric Neurology Kevin Staley, MD, says. “What we’ve done is set up a hub where different subspecialists work together and patients can also receive access to the same services including nurse practitioners, social workers and school liaisons.”

Dr. Staley and Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery Ann-Christine (Tina) Duhaime, MD, are leading the pediatric neuroscience team to develop best practices and expand resources for the center, which MGHfC leaders began developing in 2006. The center encompasses specialists from neurology, neurosurgery, pediatric intensive care, pediatric oncology, psychiatry, neurogenetics and rehabilitation who work cohesively to treat patients with problems ranging from learning disorders to muscular dystrophy to seizures. Shared specialized technology including proton beam radiation at the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center as well as advanced EEG monitoring systems are assets to the center, and Drs. Staley and Duhaime say they are working on developing a Neuro step-down ICU as well as adding advanced imaging tools to the unit.

“We see the center both as a way to deliver excellent care and as a means to improve our care,” Dr. Duhaime says. “As we streamline our care plans, we’re discovering what other ingredients we need to develop ourselves as a center of excellence.”

One focus has been the development of a pediatric neurocritical care program within the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Director of the pediatric neurocritical care program Sarah Murphy, MD, among the first pediatric intensivists in the United States and board certified in neurocritical care, says the concept of pediatric neurocritical care is very new; there are currently only a few dedicated neurocritical care programs in the United States.

“Advances in pediatric critical care medicine have decreased mortality in critically ill and injured children. As more children survive serious illness and injury there is, increasingly, a focus on optimizing their neurological outcomes,” Dr. Murphy says. “We are currently working to develop and refine procedures and practice guidelines that reflect best current evidence and deliver the optimal care to each patient in the optimal environment.”

Natan Noviski, MD, Chief of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at MGHFC says the pediatric neurocritical care team is working on building the program and is proud of its successes thus far.

“We are on the frontier of developing this neuroscience program, and as we grow we remember our goals fall in line with three long-standing MGHfC missions,” Dr. Noviski says. “Excellence in patient care, research and education.”

Learn more about the Neuroscience Program at MGHfC.

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