Abstract

Introduction: Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a group of diseases that affect movement and posture due to brain damage. In Albania there are no studies indicating the current prevalence of infantile CP, the prevalence of respiratory symptoms, and access to respiratory physiotherapy of infants with CP.

Aims and Objectives: The aim of this study is to evaluate the frequency of respiratory symptoms, and access to physiotherapy in Albanian children with cerebral palsy.

Methods: We conducted a study with CP children at the Albanian National Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Center for Children.

Results:Seventy-nine children (44 or 55.7% males; 35 or 44.3% females) with cerebral palsy and a mean age of 6.7 years old were included in the study. Thirty-four (43.3%) were born pre-term, mostly (24 children, 70.6%), at the seventh month of pregnancy. The median age at diagnosis forCP was 15 months. 55.7 % of participants were hospitalized at least once for respiratory problems, and their first appointment with a physiotherapist was around 22 months (mean age).57 participants or 72.2% reported coughing at least once weekly; 60.8% reported weekly phlegm; nightly snoring (35.4%), choking (30.4%), asthma (7.6%). Children had a median of three weekly appointment with a physiotherapist and in 60% they needed extra access to physiotherapy, that was not reimbursed by the National Health Services.

Conclusions: In Albania there is an unmet need to carry out a national cohort based study on the prevalence ofCP, and respiratory symptoms in CP patients. These studies should also increase awareness among the policy makers to provide free medical servicesand treatment and social support for these patients.