Dealing with multisystem disease in people with a developmental disability

Edward V O’Loughlin, Helen M Somerville and Ernest R Somerville
Med J Aust 2009; 190 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02588.x
Published online: 1 June 2009

The challenge of providing a multidisciplinary response to complex health problems

A developmental disability is a neurological abnormality having its onset in childhood that is associated with long-term neurological and developmental deficits (for example, spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy). Although the degree of physical and intellectual disability varies greatly, people with a severe developmental disability often have very limited mobility, are dependent on caregivers for their daily needs, and usually have several concomitant medical problems. Because of their complex health needs, consensus is growing that multidisciplinary clinics provide the optimal setting for assessment and management of patients with a developmental disability.

  • Edward V O’Loughlin1
  • Helen M Somerville1
  • Ernest R Somerville2

  • 1 Department of Gastroenterology, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW.



The dysphagia clinics at Westmead Hospital and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead are partially supported by the NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, for provision of clinical services (half-time nurse coordinator salaries at both sites).


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