Remove pain from unexplained physical symptoms in children

Previously, young people with somatic symptoms and related disorders suffered long stays with unnecessary or low-value medical tests and treatment. It was only after doctors could determine a medical diagnosis that teams of psychology or psychiatry were called in to assess the role that mental health factors played in the development and perpetuation of physical symptoms.

Meanwhile, children were spending more time in the hospital without any improvement, and families often grew weary of the lack of responses and an organized approach to care, Kullgren said.

While some of these patients have underlying anxiety or depression and mental health needs impacting physical symptoms, others do not, she said.

“These kids were spending days or more in the hospital or had multiple outpatient visits and not getting better because they weren’t getting the right treatment,” Kullgren said.

“Families can feel left out or ignored, especially without clear coordination with mental health care providers and a roadmap for determining how their previously functioning child was significantly weakened. There is such a level of frustration for families and health care providers about the care of these children. “

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In a partnership led by pediatric psychology, pediatric psychiatry and hospital medicine and Mott neurology, care teams have developed a more comprehensive, holistic and multidisciplinary approach to treating somatic symptoms and associated disorders in the hospital setting.

Care is now provided for early awareness, coordinated communication that aligns with evidence-based approaches and high-yield interventions, Kullgren said.

Now, at the start of a patient’s journey, specialists in psychology, psychiatry, social work, neurology, emergency medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, nursing and primary care all work hand in hand, with social work and childhood life teams.

“Together we have created a unique model of care that really contributes to our understanding of how best to serve these children. We also used fewer resources to take care of them, which lowered costs, ”Kullgren said.

This cohesive communication within the multidisciplinary team continues through discharge to ensure families return home with the resources they need to keep the children better, whether it’s physiotherapy or physical therapy. mental health services.

“These symptoms are often severe, but in the absence of a clear medical problem, families feel like they continue to find themselves in stalemate no matter how many specialists they see. Or, you can tell them the reason is stress or anxiety, but don’t get a diagnosis or treatment plan, ”Kullgren said.

“We can now give parents the answers they need and concrete strategies to follow after they return home without a long hospital stay. Our main goal is to get these kids back up and running as quickly as possible so that they can go to school and do well in school, participate in the activities they enjoy, function at home and engage with their children. peers.

About Hector Hedgepeth

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