Youth who are being treated for physical disease are at risk for associated developmental, behavioral, emotional, and neurocognitive concerns. Diagnosis with and treatment for an acute or chronic illness can result in significant psychological and social consequences for patients and their families. Sudden and significant lifestyle change is often necessary, including extensive medical intervention and social limitations. Some illnesses and/or medical interventions are accompanied by physical changes (such as weight gain, hair loss, and growth limitations) or cognitive changes (such as learning difficulties and memory problems), which can exacerbate the emotional and social challenges faced by young patients and their families. The experience of a significant illness can interfere with the development of a child, adolescent, or young adult's independence, self-confidence, social skills, and sense of security within his or her environment.
Dr. Poltorak is among very few outpatient providers in our region who have extensive training and expertise in the subspecialty field of pediatric behavioral medicine. With its significant focus on the interplay between physical disease and psychological factors, this field differs from the more general practice of child psychology. However, she also has tremendous experience in the evaluation and management of psychological concerns outside the context of physical illness, such as developmental and behavioral concerns, parenting questions, depression, anxiety, socialization or relationship difficulties, family stress, and the like. The appropriateness of any individual patient is determined on a case-by-case basis. Parents of minors, prospective patients, and referring providers are encouraged to contact Dr. Poltorak directly to discuss whether she would be an appropriate provider for the specific referral concerns. Her approach to evaluation and management is evidence-based and largely combines supportive and cognitive-behavioral approaches to treatment.