Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center Associate Director and Columbia Orthopedics pediatric orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joshua Hyman was interviewed about cerebral palsy for North Jersey.com, a subsidiary of USA Today.
Besides seeing patients at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in Manhattan, Dr. Hyman also sees patients in Englewood, New Jersey. Here are some highlights from the interview:
North Jersey.com Asks Dr. Hyman About the Prevalence of CP
Q. How prevalent is cerebral palsy?
We don’t have perfect data but we believe that it’s somewhere between two to three children per 1,000 live births in the U.S. or one in 323 children as identified by [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] data.
Q. What don’t we know about it?
We don’t understand a lot about cerebral palsy because there isn’t enough money. Many people are aware of autism and how widespread it is. Cerebral palsy is also quite widespread; it just doesn’t get a lot of research dollars and attention.
Dr. Hyman’s Heartbreaking Patient Stories
Q. What was your most heart-breaking case?
I’ve had a couple of patients. Another reason to do spine surgery is that, if we can prevent the spine from curving further, lungs work better and that prevents things like pneumonia, which is often the downfall of these patients. A couple of times I wanted to operate on a patient and their parents didn’t want it – not because they didn’t love their child, but because they didn’t want them to go through the pain of recovery. Their spine curved further, they got sicker and more frequently and, by the time they agreed to do the surgery, it was too late. The child’s lung function was so poor that the risk of surgery outweighed the possible benefits.
Common Interventions for Cerebral Palsy
Q. What are the most common interventions?
Spine surgery and hip and foot reconstruction, mainly for pain and ease of care. If these children are contorted and it becomes difficult to move their hips or legs to dress, bathe or change them, then those children might receive less care and be more likely to develop problems with infections or skin breakdowns. If they have a dislocated hip or scoliosis, they may have seating problems and can’t balance themselves, so if they are non-verbal and can only communicate with a keyboard, that’s a problem.