Telehealth Helps Children in CA

Northern California children with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, spinal cord injuries, and other physical disabilities now have access to UC Davis Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation via a new telehealth program.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has provided funds for nearly $2 million for five years to go towards the new STARS program serving children receiving support through California Children’s Services Medical Therapy Program

The program provides physical therapy, occupational therapy, and durable medical equipment to children with neurological or musculoskeletal disorders at designated school-based Medical Therapy Units.

The STARS program provides patient telehealth visits but the Medical team makes recommendations for specialized equipment such as orthotics, and wheelchairs, prescribes therapy, and makes necessary referrals for specialized medical treatment. The pilot program with funding from AHRQ, will help bring telehealth to rural and underserved communities.

The project will implement a prospective cohort study and compare the outcomes from the STARS model to the outcomes of two control populations. The two control populations will have patients who receive in-person pediatric physiatrist medical care and patients who receive this care from non-pediatric specialists.

Hoover Elementary School in Stockton California last January was the first Medial Therapy Unit to implement the new telehealth program. James Marcin, Professor for the Department of Pediatrics, Director for the UC Davis Center for Health and Technology and Principal Grant Investigator said, “The use of telehealth should help address the distance barrier which is sometimes insurmountable for families and children living in rural communities.”

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