Integrative neural networks (INN): a framework to address health disparities in parents of children with chronic conditions
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Prolonged life disruptions lead to isolation, stress, role confusion, and loss of meaningful daily life. Physiological, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual fragmentation occurs in body, mind, and spirit during disruptions such as chronic illness, disability, or a public health crisis lasting longer than 12 months. Although this is the case for parents (or primary caregivers) of children with chronic conditions whose health disparities have been extensively documented, it is seldom recognized and leads to lack of individualized care access. Parents of children with chronic conditions experience increased morbidity and mortality risks from cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, cancer, and enteric disruptions. Furthermore, these health disparities manifest as diminished selective attention, decision making, emotional regulation, sense of belonging, and enjoyment in meaningful daily activities, which affects their capacity to manage the family’s health. The Integrative Neural Networks framework was developed to create avenues for occupational therapy practitioners to assess and improve the level of multisystemic disruptions affecting an individual’s health and function. This framework allows for greater access to health care and an interdisciplinary collaborative designed to address body, mind, and spiritual fragmentations in parents of children with chronic conditions. The robust theoretical and evidence base used in developing Integrative Neural Networks serves as a guide for occupational therapy practitioners to understand the problem, lead the interdisciplinary collaborative, and design a neurointegrative plan of care.