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Understanding children with disabilities

A Cook Children’s neurologist helps us observe International Day of Persons with Disabilities

They're considered to be the largest minority group in the world with approximately 1 billion people across the globe living with some form of disability.

In the United States, nearly 1 in 6 children, or about 15 percent, of children from 3 to 17 years have one or more developmental disabilities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today, people and organizations worldwide are taking time to acknowledge the challenges those with disabilities face by observing International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The annual observance was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations.

The goal:

  • To promote an understanding of disability issues.
  • To mobilize support for dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
  • To create awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of people with disabilities.

At Cook Children's, our physicians work with children with disabilities every day.

So what is considered to be a disability?

"A disability is when an impairment causes a limitation in a life skill," says Warren Marks, M.D., a neurologist and medical director of the Movement Disorders and Rehabilitations Programs at Cook Children’s. "From a medical standpoint, that could be a motor impairment, cognitive impairment or even a social impairment, especially when related to a chronic medical condition."

Dr. Marks treats patients with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and dystonia, all of which are disabilities that can create lifelong challenges.

"Physical disabilities impair the way children interact with their families and peers, and the way their peers interact with them. This can result in secondary social disabilities," says Dr. Marks. "Also, children with motor disabilities have more difficulty participating in many activities which can cause problems throughout their life – a higher incidence of obesity and diabetes and all the complications related to those disorders."

Dr. Marks and his team of physical therapists at Cook Children's have spent countless hours researching complex movement disorders. Currently, they are using the newly developed motion analysis laboratory at Cook Children's to work with experts in endocrinology, orthopedics and nutrition in hopes of understanding the impact of obesity on all aspects of mobility. Their work is not only significant for the medical community, it also offers to patients that their quality of life can be greatly improved.

"We're working hard, even investigating rehabilitative approaches including interactive robotics and assistive technology," says Dr. Marks. "But we have to remember that these investigations take time, equipment and money."

About the source:

 Warren Marks, M.D., a neurologist and medical director of the Movement Disorders and Rehabilitations Programs at Cook Children’sCook Children's Movement Disorders Clinic cares for kids who have challenges with body movement due to illness, injury or congenital ailments. Our team provides your child with a thorough evaluation including a physical examination, complete medical history and testing in order to diagnose the specific type of movement disorder your child has. Based on the diagnosis, the team creates a plan of care that meets your child's unique needs.


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