Monday 19 August 2013

Understanding Child brain development-a review

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 The Family Hope Center have produced a DVD about child brain development: Understanding Child brain development.

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This DVD is of a seminar given by Matthew and Carol Newell of the Family Hope Center and introduced by Andrew Padewa from Institute of Excellence in Writing. The seminar is aimed both at parents of children with special needs but also at parents in general. At the start of the DVD, Matthew Newell expresses the thought that children are on a continum from normal brain function to very abnormal function leading to disability.

Mr Newell goes through the functions of the medulla, pons, midbrain and cortex; introduces the work of the Family Hope Center and gives pointers as to how parents can help their children. The seminar lasts just over two hours but reference is made to a longer three day course run by the Center.

The Center itself works with children with special needs and learning difficulties and their families. 

What was particularly helpful

  • The talk was illustrated by brain and skull models as well as a toy to show compressibility.
  • There was an emphasis on working with families. In particular, families are said to be "part of the team."
  • The point about time needed for therapy seemed sensible and realistic.
What was less helpful
  • No evidence was produced for assertions such that as creeping practice can help an older child with reading difficulties. I'm no neurodevelopmentalist but I would like to know the evidence before subjecting a child to two hours a day crawling rather than practice with reading and play. Similarly, before parents clear all devices from their home which use electromagnetic fields, they should know the evidence for their causing learning delay.
  • There were a fair few assertions which may or may not have been correct. A typical example was about his daughter "She needed to crawl at eight years as she was so hurt by a vaccine shot." The needing to crawl wasn't that the child was only able to do this but was being given crawling as therapy.
  • Again, I'm not a paediatrician or neurologist but I was surprised to be taught that an up going plantar reflex, beyond early childhood,was an indication of a lesion in the medulla. As far as I'm aware, and this fitted with my past experience in medicine, a withdrawal or upgoing plantar reflex is indicative of any upper motor neurone lesion, that is, in the spinal cord or brain including the medulla. It is not a localising sign, that is, it doesn't point to a problem in a specific place.
  • I wasn't able to read the powerpoint slides, partly, because they were unclear and partly because, on occasion, the whole screen wasn't shown.
The DVD Understanding Child brain development is available at $19 (about £12.14 today) either by phoning 610-397-1737 (add 001 to the beginning of the number if calling from the UK) or from Institute of Excellence in Writing.

To read further reviews of this DVD, please visit the Schoolhouse Crew Review blog.

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Additional disclaimer: Whilst I am a qualified physician and practised for over twenty years, I no longer hold a licence to practice, having voluntarily given this up in order to devote more time to my family. I have never practised as a paediatrician or as a neurologist.

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