Denmark has had legislation for home training since 2008 wherein the parents are able to choose home training.
The FHC program begins with a 3-day seminar where the parents gain valuable information about the physiology of brain function and dysfunction.
With this knowledge the parents begin home training and every 6 months the families attend a comprehensive two-day visit in Svendborg including an individual evaluation of the child to improve their personalized treatment plan. Once the family returns home, FHC follows them with monthly phone calls, reports, emails, Skype conferences, and videos to track the progress, quality and success of the program.
The purpose of this observational study is to present 44 neurologically disabled Danish children evaluated and trained by FHC with their latest two-day visit in January 2015. We investigate whether the children are improving their neurological function and whether they are improving compared to their earlier obtained development.
We included 44 children, 26 girls and 18 boys aged from 2.4 y to 17.6 y (mean 8.8 y).
The brain damages were ranging from severe cerebral palsy from birth asphyxia (15), genetic disorder (9), neuroanatomical defects (5), attention deficit disorder or autism (7), delayed development (7) and one suffering from brain damage after a serious infection.
The children are evaluated using both the Functional Independence Measure (FIM™) for children (Wee-FIM) and the FHC Integrative & Developmental Progression Chart® (IDP) created in 2002.
In this study we focus on the FHC-IDP chart used to evaluate the childrens neurological development expressed as neurological age in months.
Every child is thoroughly assessed in 7 neurological abilities:
Each ability is graduated according to the normal developmental period and brain level (ascending from Medulla through Pons, Midbrain and to the more advanced cortical level). The reference is to compare them to the peer level of healthy and normally developed children. The calculated neurological age (NA) is divided by the chronological age (CA) to determine the degree of neurological function. The degree of brain injury is divided into four categories based on this (table 1).
FHC treatment has a holistic and integrative approach. The training is aimed at gaining appropriate neurological development, improving physiological health, promoting emotional and social skills, and increasing the quality of life for the child and other family members. These goals are achieved through various programs that include targeted nutritional support, individualized physical exercises, passive and active respiratory techniques, specific sensory stimulation and integration, and emotional/social and cognitive training. This home-based model empowers parents to be closely involved in all aspects of their children’s life, training and developmental progress which is an essential element for success. Following every evaluation by the FHC team, the individual training program is adjusted and updated according to the needs of the child. The parents are then instructed comprehensively to be able to carry out the home training for the next 6 months period.
The majority of children had a degree of injury in the severe or profound category (84%), Table 1.
Figure 1 shows the initial Neurological Age against the Chronological Age when they started the FHC based home training. It illustrates that most children begin training at an early age and that they have delayed development.
Forty-three children out of 44 children had positive development in Neurological Age when comparing the 2015 visit to the 2014 visit, figure 2.
The mean degree of functionality was 41.95% in 2014 and in 42.75% in 2015. Fifteen children had an increase in degree of functionality of at least 1%, 20 children sustained their degree of functionality and 9 had a decrease in degree of functionality. Six children showed accelerated development with a change in NA/CA-fraction above 1, resulting from developing more in NA than the corresponding CA.
In this group of seriously disabled children we find real life evidence of neurological development during home training administered by the parents following the Family Hope Center Method. By using the FHC Integrative & Developmental Progression Chart® we were able to do a detailed measurement of the childrens development and assess changes. As anticipated most of the children had an increase in neurological age and the majority were able to sustain or increase their degree of neurological function. Six of the children even showed accelerated development by developing more in neurological age than the corresponding chronological age.