To describe when and by whom concern is first expressed for children referred to rehabilitation because of neuromotor problems.
Study Design and Setting
We conducted a survey of parents of 92 children (aged 0-6 years) who were on the waiting list for physical or occupational therapy services at rehabilitation centers in Montréal, Québec. We compared age of child at initial concern with who first expressed concern for children who were considered at risk due to their perinatal history of prematurity and those who were not born prematurely but were later diagnosed as having neuromotor problems.
Parents were interviewed regarding their child’s medical history and utilization of health care services.
Parents were concerned later than physicians were regarding their child’s development (mean difference, 8.2 months; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.7-12.6 months). There was no significant difference in time of recognition of problems between the premature (10.2 months) and full-term (11.9 months) groups. Even after controlling for risk group, parental concern occurred later than physician concern (β coefficient, 7.3; 95% CI, 2.5-12.2). The child’s age at the time of initial concern was associated with the child’s age at referral to rehabilitation (β coefficient, 0.04; 95% CI, 0.01-0.06).
Early recognition is important if a child is to benefit from early rehabilitation. It may be important to improve primary care screening of children for neuromotor problems and to increase parental awareness regarding normal motor development of their children. Prompt, simultaneous referral to medical evaluation and rehabilitation resources may decrease delays in rehabilitation.