The CHOC Neuroscience Institute recognizes the challenges our patients and their families face day in and day out, and we have multiple services designed to address the individualized needs of each patient and their family.
The “Helping Families Cope” room features a computer with Internet access and e mail availability, educational pamphlets, books and videos, and it is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The resource room is conveniently located on the dedicated neuroscience unit.
Case Management Services
Each patient is assigned a dedicated R.N. case manager. The case managers work with all members of the Neuroscience Institute team to coordinate care from pre-hospitalization to the patient’s return home – helping patients and their families navigate the health care system while always maintaining continuum of care. Our case managers, who also coordinate outpatient needs as they arise, communicate regularly with insurance companies, California Children’s Services (CCS) and MediCal to ensure optimal relations and make financial arrangements.
The psychological issues patients and families deal with when coping with a neurologic condition can be overwhelming. The Neuroscience Institute has a dedicated psychology team who works closely with patients and families to help them cope with emotional and psychological stress. Psychologists provide an initial consultation when the patient first meets with the Neuroscience Institute team and provides assessments throughout the patient’s hospitalization. Psychology services are then available as needed for patients, parents and siblings. The psychology team assesses and treats issues such as depression, anxiety, phobias (to medical procedures), anger, sleep difficulties, loss and grief, and behavioral issues.
Child Life Services
The ultimate goal of Child Life Services at the Neuroscience Institute is to make children as comfortable as possible before, during and after hospitalization. Our child life specialists help decrease anxiety surrounding diagnosis, treatment and hospitalization by using medical play and explaining treatment and procedures in language appropriate to the patient’s age and development. Our specialists help them cope with the many diagnostic tests they must undergo, and even accompany the child during the different procedures. They prepare children for what they may face – from an MRI scan to a lumbar puncture – providing emotional support and distraction during these challenging tests. They represent “safe” staff members, and children know that our child life specialists are there for fun and comfort – not for treatment or procedures. They are a crucial part of the health care team.
They are also experts in non-pharmacological pain management techniques, including guided imagery. They also teach other family members the coping skills they may need to care for a child with neurologic conditions, and work closely with siblings to help them address their concerns. Since the physical limitations and emotional stress of a neurologic condition can disrupt a patient’s normal social growth and development, our child life specialists strive to provide children with as many normal life experiences as possible during treatment. They act as advocates for the patient and family, and provide bereavement support in case there is a loss.
Rehabilitation Services is committed to helping children with neurologic conditions reach their potential – physically and socially – and return to home and school as quickly as possible. Using a comprehensive team approach, Rehabilitation Services offers the full array of physical, occupational, speech and hearing, respiratory and recreational therapy for infants, children and teenagers. Children receive both one-on-one rehabilitation therapy and group therapy.
Other innovative programs designed to keep children physically active are karate and yoga. These programs are designed to address physical, behavioral and social issues that children with head injuries or other neurologic conditions face.
Dietary Services staff members meet with children and their families when a child is first admitted to the hospital, and conduct a thorough nutritional evaluation. Our dieticians will also conduct a secondary screening to determine if the patient is at nutritional risk. The goal of Dietary Services is to optimize a patient’s nutrition status, which helps ensure they will tolerate their treatments better and recover from their illness. Dietary Services works to prevent or correct nutritional deficiencies, minimize treatment side effects, enhance quality of life during treatment, improve the patient’s ability to tolerate treatment, help achieve and maintain optimal body weight and teach patients how to incorporate nutrition into a comprehensive follow-up plan. Our team works closely with the physicians to determine special nutritional needs such as internal feeding or gastric tubes.