The process of transitioning an adolescent with a neurologic condition from the pediatric to the adult health care system can be complex and seem daunting. It requires that the youth’s care team, including both the pediatric and adult neurologists involved, be aware of the medical, legal and financial implications of this transition and be able to use this information to support and guide the youth during the process. A smooth transition of care is likely to reduce youth and caregiver anxiety, prevent gaps in care, encourage youths to better understand and self-manage their own medical condition(s) and empower adult neurologists to feel more comfortable in taking care of young adults.
Although neurology residents and fellows help take care of both children and adults during their training, and are likely to be acutely aware of some of the challenges facing adolescents who are transitioning care, unfortunately most neurology residency programs do not currently offer residents formal instruction on coordinating transitions of care.
Despite this, neurology residents should be aware that there are excellent resources online that can help them learn more about this topic. This includes a recent consensus statement that was published in Neurology (Brown LW et al. The neurologist’s role in supporting transition to adult health care: A consensus statement. Neurology. 2016 Aug 23;87(8):835-40) in which the authors detail eight common principles that underlie/guide successful transitions of neurologic care. A unifying theme among these principles is that early, frequent and ongoing communication between care team members about transition related issues is essential to a smooth and successful transition of care. Familiarity with these details can help care team members become more comfortable and confident with assisting youths in their care. For specific details on each of these core principles and for more information on this topic, including case vignettes, check out: http://www.neurology.org/content/87/8/835.long