By Kate Hunger
The fifth annual Neonatal Evaluation and Outcomes Network (NEON) Summit was held Feb. 8 at the new Department of Occupational Therapy facility.
The annual NEON summit brings together physicians, health professionals, researchers, patients, and families. The summit included a panel on the importance of follow up from a family perspective, as well as sessions on how to obtain early intervention services for at-risk neonates and children, early diagnosis of cerebral palsy and how to collaboratively ensure data changes outcomes. David L. Lakey, M.D., vice chancellor for health affairs and chief medical officer for The University of Texas System, addressed attendees.
Collaboration among different disciplines is essential for learning and providing the best care for babies and children, explained Alice Gong, M.D., professor of pediatrics and Rita and William Head Distinguished Professor of Environmental and Developmental Neonatology at UT Health San Antonio.
Gong also is the medical director of the PREMIEre program, which co-sponsored the summit, along with UT Health San Antonio, University Health System, San Antonio Pediatric Developmental Services, Mednax and the Department of Occupational Therapy.
Identifying a child’s need for therapy to improve physical strength and development is necessary for brain development, she said, explaining that the summit provides an opportunity to share information about which practices within various disciplines are effective.
“There is not enough information,” she said. “We need to get together and talk about what works, what doesn’t work and why.”
Gong is working with Ana Allegretti, Ph.D., OTR, assistant professor of Occupational Therapy, on a research project Allegretti began that uses modified ride-on toy cars to study the impact of early independent mobility on development.
Allegretti invited six occupational therapy students to attend the summit. One of them was MOTII student Patricia Villarreal, who welcomed the opportunity to hear firsthand experiences from families receiving health care services.
“Having attended the summit and sitting in on the dialogue and conversation, I learned in more detail the process and oftentimes challenges for children to receive early intervention,” Villarreal said. “I was encouraged to hear a room full of professionals advocate for their patients and collectively voice concerns and offer suggestions regarding current obstacles they felt had an impact on early intervention for children with disabilities.”
The patient and family testimonials also were powerful for MOTII student Sarah Bevins.
“This helped enhance my understanding of ways to collaborate and work interprofessionally with others and gave me a better understanding of what patients need from the health care professionals they depend on,” she said.