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Dr. Darcy Fehlings talks about pain management for kids with cerebral palsy

Dr. Fehlings recently publishing the findings from her study on pain prevalence in kids with CP in the health journal Pediatrics. Even Dr. Fehlings was surprised by her team’s findings; over 25 percent of children with CP have moderate to severe chronic pain that limits their daily activity.

Her study also found that hip pain and increased muscle tone were the most common causes of pain in kids with CP.She’s excited about how her findings can be applied.“This knowledge will allow pediatricians to focus on accurately assessing and managing the root cause of this pain.”

Cameron Purdy is a 13 year old boy with cerebral palsy.He and his mom Corinna have been long-time Holland Bloorview clients working with Dr. Fehlings; Corinna even lived at Holland Bloorview for three months in 2009 while Cameron recovered from a surgery.

Corinna Purdy is glad to see the Bloorview Research Institute looking at chronic pain in kids with CP.“It can be hard for kids to explain where the pain is, especially if they’ve lived with pain their whole life.Maybe they think it’s normal, or maybe they are too shy to tell you – either way, you may not know they’re in pain.Dr. Fehlings used cartoon faces instead of a 1-10 pain scale, which helped Cameron communicate his pain levels.”

Dr. Melanie Penner, a Fellow in Developmental Pediatrics at Holland Bloorview working with Dr. Fehlings, says Cameron and Corinna’s experience is typical.“This study has underlined the importance of asking every child with CP about their pain levels.This can sometimes pose a challenge for children with communication limitations, which makes a systematic pain assessment plan crucial.”

Dr. Fehlings is sharing her findings with as many doctors and parents as possible.“Developing a strategy to prevent, assess, and manage chronic pain for kids with CP is key to improving their health and quality of life.”

Learn more about Dr. Fehlings and her work with cerebral palsy research by visiting the CP Discovery Lab.