Project Lead(s): Vivek Vajaratkar
Neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDD) are evident from early childhood and include intellectual disability, autism and cerebral palsy. Approximately 150 million children worldwide suffer from an NDD and 90% of them live in developing countries.
The mhGAP Intervention Guide recommends community-based rehabilitation for children with an NDD, but does not specify intervention strategies.
Further, the vast majority of children with an NDD do not have access to evidence-based therapies, due to the limited availability and high costs of specialized therapists and the lack of evidence of the delivery of interventions by community health workers.
Implemented in India, the INFORM (ImproviNg Functional Outcomes foR Children with IMpairments) project designed and tested a mHealth platform for Android devices to enable community health workers (CHWs) to deliver evidence-based strategies for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDD).
The project was initiated due to a lack of health professionals (doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists) in rural areas and also the lack of policy in addressing the challenge.
Key outputs from the project team were a computerized screening tool for identification of children with an NDD and a tool for assessment of impairments, to generate a summary of unmet needs.
In the first phase, the team focused on children screened for cerebral palsy (CP) and the technology was evaluated with 12 families of children with CP.
Each parent-child dyad was recruited to receive six fortnightly sessions and 10 dyads completed all sessions.
After each session, facilitators submitted an Excel log book for suggesting strengths and challenges faced during the delivery of the intervention in the domains of technology, content and family interactions.
This information was used to develop the platform.
Knowledge was disseminated in conference presentations and $56,500 was received from Innovgreen Disable Foundation Limited, Hong Kong, to support the project.