There are numerous efforts in the healthcare community to increase health care accessibility, education, and support. One of these approaches is “telehealth”, the use of telecommunications methods such as computers and phones to deliver health related services and information. Dr. Anastasia Dimitropoulos at Case Western University is working on a project to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of using telehealth to bring behavioral therapies and interventions to families of those with PWS. They are working on two interventions.One is designed to deliver training directly to parents to provide tools to improve the quality of parent-child interactions. The other involves direct interaction between a member for the research group and the child with PWS. Overall, both interventions are designed to increase play, improve social understanding, and reduce behavior issues in PWS. In the first year of the project, Dr. Dimitropoulos and her team have confirmed that delivering the therapies remotely through telehealth is feasible and early evidence suggests that they may be effective in helping improve behavior, emotion, and social functioning in preschool age children with PWS. They have also found that even at this young age, children with PWS by UPD face greater social-cognitive challenges as compared to those with PWS by Deletion.
Moving forward in year 2, Dr. Dimitropoulos’ group is going to evaluate the combination of the two interventions, parent training in concert with direct child intervention, again via remote telehealth. This project, "Systematic Investigation of Early Social Cognitive Processes and the Feasibility of Intervention", will include 40 children with PWS (ages 3-9), tailored specifically to each age group with more parent training for families of preschoolers and more direct intervention for school age children. They predict that this combined program will be more effective than each intervention alone at increasing social cognitive ability and decreasing challenging behavior for both preschool and school-age children with PWS.