When children with epilepsy reach a certain age, they must transfer from pediatric to adult hospital care. The transition can be a difficult one as healthcare providers and support levels change. This is especially difficult when the individual with epilepsy has intellectual or behavioural problems.
Since 2007, there has been a Transition Epilepsy Program that bridges care from The Hospital for Sick Children to Toronto Western Hospital. Dr. Danielle Andrade is studying the unique needs of people who transition from pediatric care to adult care and determining how the adult system can best meet their needs, including considerations for drug-resistant seizures, intellectual and developmental disabilities.
As part of the Transition program, Dr. Andrade is conducting studies in some patients with genetic, childhood-onset epilepsy to assess their epilepsy outcomes. In this context, Dr. Andrade and her team have recently determined that young adults with Dravet syndrome develop early signs of Parkinsonism (impaired body movements).
To supplement this work, Dr. Andrade is planning a new research project to compare the clinical outcomes of centres with a Transition Program relative to centres without a Transition Program. She also plans to establish a biannual conference on Transition Programs to share research findings. It is her hope that the Transition Epilepsy Program at the Toronto Western Hospital will become a model of best practice for all of Ontario and beyond.