UCP of Central Arizona Expands Baby Clinic Services

United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona received a grant of $30,000 from BHHS Legacy Foundation to expand services in its Baby Clinic in Phoenix.

As the oldest healthcare-related nonprofit in Phoenix, UCP of Central Arizona provides comprehensive services to individuals with disabilities and their families by providing physical and developmental support as well as educational growth for infants, children and adults.

“We are very grateful for this grant and the ability to serve even more families of babies who are at risk for cerebral palsy,” said Valerie Pieraccini, director of Therapy and Early Learning Center. “Early detection, diagnosis and intervention for cerebral palsy patients can minimize the secondary effects of abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain by taking advantage of developmental neuroplasticity, a time where a baby’s brain is organizing itself through pruning and adding of neural connections.”

UCP of Central Arizona’s Baby Clinic provides access to targeted services for babies up to 18 months who are at risk for cerebral palsy and other neurodevelopmental disorders. The state-of-the-art facility provides early detection services based on risk factors, outcomes of specified evaluations, surveillance of motor development and parental concerns resulting in subsequent targeted early treatment and services often lacking for babies with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

“Without the support of organizations like BHHS Legacy Foundation, the Baby Clinic and countless other programs we support would not be possible,” said Brenda Hanserd, CEO of UCP of Central Arizona. “The families we serve benefit greatly from early intervention and the cutting-edge medical programs we facilitate at UCP of Central Arizona, which in turn leads to a more productive and fulfilling life for children and adults with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders.”

UCP’s pediatric therapy clinic offers occupational, physical, speech and feeding therapy to children up to age 12. Currently, children aged 18 months and younger account for 10 percent of the clinic’s total population. UCP’s goal is to further develop and expand an evidence-based early detection and treatment program for these babies who are at high risk and who require targeted tools and expert therapists.

“The average age for a child to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy in the U.S. is greater than 2 years old, and often occurs only after a child misses consecutive developmental motor milestones or is observed to have abnormal movement patterns,” Pieraccini said. “Evidence shows that early recognition of cerebral palsy can — and should — occur as soon as possible so an infant can receive diagnosis-specific early intervention and surveillance to optimize neuroplasticity and prevent additional physical and intellectual delay associated with the diagnosis.”

Currently, the Baby Clinic serves 35 Valley infants, but with support from BHHS Legacy Foundation, UCP of Central Arizona will expand healthcare access by roughly 20-30 percent in the years ahead. UCP’s Baby Clinic will serve approximately 50 children aged 18 months or younger at risk for cerebral palsy and other neurodevelopmental disorders and their families by the end of 2023.


About Karen Werner

Karen Werner is the editor of Frontdoors Media. She is a writer, editor and media consultant. She has interned at The New Yorker, worked at Parents Magazine, edited five books and founded several local magazines. Her work has appeared in Sunset, Mental Floss and the Saturday Evening Post.
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