New Mexico Early Cerebral Palsy Risk Detection and Intervention Task Force

May 8, 2020

New Mexico Early Cerebral Palsy Risk Detection and Intervention Task Force was developed with leadership from the University of New Mexico Center for Development and Disability (CDD). Sandra Heimerl, PT, DPT, MS training director of the New Mexico LEND leads the task force. Two years ago several colleagues went to a national conference (American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine conference) to learn new clinical guidelines for detecting cerebral palsy early. The twenty-plus person team began working to develop the task force in 2017. In the last state legislative session a house resolution was passed to study how to implement the new guidelines in New Mexico.
Cerebral palsy is usually diagnosed at two years or later which is a problem because the brain is most plastic before that age. The new tools can identify cerebral palsy in children younger than six months of age.
Members of the task force have spoken at the state physical therapy and occupational therapy conferences.
Two people on the task force have become certified in the Hammersmith Infant Neurological Examination and plan to start training others in the state this summer.

This important work in early intervention has provided learning opportunities for trainees. Four current NM LEND trainees have capstones involving the task force. Some medium-term trainees are working on a training for community health workers and collecting data on the usual age of diagnosis for children in New Mexico.