Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics (Neurology); Director of the Pediatric Neurology Residency Program; Co-Director Yale/MDA Pediatric Neuromuscular Clinic
Pediatric Neurology's strong clinical and research interests are dyslexia, diseases of muscle and nerve, headaches, neonatal neurology, movement and paroxysmal disorders, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, stroke and cerebrovascular disorders, seizures and epilepsy, and disorders learning and attention.
The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity
The mission of The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity is to uncover and illuminate the strengths of individuals with dyslexia, disseminate the latest innovations from scientific research, translate them into practice, and transform the care of children and adults with dyslexia. Founded and co-directed by Sally E. Shaywitz, M.D., the Audrey G. Ratner Professor in Learning Development and Bennett A. Shaywitz, M.D., the Charles and Helen Schwab Professor in Dyslexia and Learning Development, both elected members of the National Academy Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the Center is a leading source for trustworthy information about dyslexia and advocacy in ensuring that scientific knowledge is translated into policy and practice. As part of its innovative approach to changing attitudes, the Center targets specific strategies that improve the lives of dyslexic children and adults. Strategies include: neurobiological and longitudinal research, focused conferences, courses and seminars, media (print and film), and evidence and methods to support the translation of research into practice. In addition, The Center strives to create a level playing field for those with dyslexia, and does so, in part, by educating policymakers and empowering individuals to take a stance in their communities, schools, and workplaces.
The Pediatric Epilepsy Center
The Pediatric Epilepsy Center studies and treats epilepsy and seizure disorders. The Center is equipped with state-of-the-art technology for continuous electroencephalographic and video monitoring of seizures in infants and children. This facility represents one component of a comprehensive evaluation and treatment program for children with epilepsy. Recognizing that six percent of the pediatric population experiences at least one seizure in a lifetime, Pediatric Neurology is committed to understanding the nature of seizure disorders in children.
Our team of dedicated experts offers a multidisciplinary approach to care that integrates the expertise of colleagues in neurosurgery and diagnostic imaging to deliver leading-edge evaluation, diagnosis, and patient care to children with varying forms and degrees of seizure and epilepsy. Our Program provides intensive audiovisual and electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring for diagnosis and localization of the affected area, to tailor care for each patient. Patients receive comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services, and a full range of medical and surgical treatment options, including ketogenic diet and vagus nerve stimulator programs for the treatment of children with complex epileptic conditions, as well as investigative therapies and approaches that are not widely available.
Ketogenic Diet Clinic
Our philosophy is patient focused and we strive to incorporate the family’s cultural background and dietary preferences. Parents and caregivers receive comprehensive training in recipe preparation, cooking, along with how to identify and treat any side effects of the diet. In addition to providing ongoing comprehensive care, our team is actively involved in research dedicated to improving outcomes and management of side effects.
This is a medical nutrition therapy – a diet that should only be conducted under the supervision of a multi-disciplinary medical team including a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
The Neonatal Brain Research Group
The organization of structural and functional brain networks is necessary for typical neurodevelopment, and recent data suggest that many neurobehavioral disorders are attributable to developmental disorders of fetal brain growth and connectivity. Emergence of the developing connectome is contingent on adequate nutrition and good prenatal care, but mostly on unknown genetic and metabolic cues and factors. To date, identification of these crucial cues and factors has been impeded by the inability to non-invasively and serially interrogate the developing human fetus and to correlate natural undulations in expressed genes with brain growth and maturation. The simultaneous and recent explosive growth in two disciplines – high resolution imaging and next-generation sequencing – now make the entirety of a developing human fetus accessible at serial key developmental milestones during gestation, all non-invasively and safe to mother and fetus.
The focus of the Neonatal Brain Research Group, led by Laura R Ment, MD, is the identification of sensitive, reliable and actionable biomarkers of growth and maturation of the developing fetal brain using sophisticated fetal magnetic resonance imaging strategies and emerging molecular technologies.
The Pediatric Movement Disorders Clinic
The Pediatric Movement Disorders Clinic was established to evaluate and treat children with dystonia, chorea, myoclonus, tremor, motor tics, stereotypies and other paroxysmal disorders of movement. Dr. Nigel Bamford works closely with the Child Study Center at Yale, the Yale Comprehensive Movement Disorders Program, and the Department of Neurosurgery to enhance clinical evaluation and available treatments. The clinic is located at Yale New Haven Hospital.
The Spina Bifida Clinic
Spina bifida occurs early in embryo development often before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Spina bifida is commonly diagnosed prenatally by ultrasound screening, and the spina bifida clinic team works closely with the Yale Maternal-Fetal Medicine clinic in prenatal consultation. Infants with spina bifida are usually delivered by cesarean section at a medical center such as Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital equipped with a neonatal intensive care unit and staffed by a specialized neurosurgical team to repair the opening shortly after birth. Dr. Cristian Ionita in pediatric neurology works with a team of neurosurgeons, orthopedists, urologists, physical therapists, nurses, dietitians and social workers to provide long-term support to children with spina bifida and their families. Children with neural tube defects have varying degrees of central nervous system problems as well as difficulties with bladder and bowel control and lower limb movement. A coordinated care plan is developed by our multidisciplinary spina bifida clinic team.
The Comprehensive Pediatric Headache Clinic
The Pediatric Headache Clinic provides comprehensive diagnostic and management services for children and adolescents with headaches. Our clinic is comprised of a neurologist, nurse practitioner, nurse coordinator, pediatric psychologists, and clinical social worker. We believe that a strong collaboration amongst our team members, the patient and family, school personnel, and primary care provider is essential to providing the best care for your child. Headaches and chronic pain are complex; therefore, our clinical team uses a biopsychosocial approach to understand how headaches relate to a child’s environment, emotional and behavioral well-being, and school and family functioning. Our recommendations are intended to support your child’s overall functioning with the goal of attending school and engaging in other life-fulfilling activities.
Children and families meet with one or more members of the team during the appointment.The team will conduct an initial assessment to learn more about your child’s headaches. Maintaining a headache diary prior to the visit can help to identify patterns and triggers for your child’s headaches.
Our multidisciplinary team will then work together to formulate an individualized treatment plan for your child. Treatment often involves basic lifestyle modifications to diet, hydration, exercise, and sleep. Certain pediatric headaches may require additional testing, although most do not. Medication may be recommended as well. We look forward to meeting with you and your child in headache clinic.
The Yale Multiple Sclerosis Center
The Yale Multiple Sclerosis Center is a multidisciplinary service that evaluates and treats patients with suspected or diagnosed multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a chronic central nervous system disease that causes symptoms ranging from numbness to weakness. Up to 10 percent of MS patients are diagnosed before the age of 18. The disease has different effects in these younger patients whose brains are still developing.
Pediatric neurologist, Naila Makhani, MD MPH evaluates and treats these younger patients. She has significant experience in MS, receives funding from Race to Erase MS and participates in clinical trials for MS therapies in children.
Dr. Makhani sees children under 12 years of age at the Long Wharf Medical Center (1 Long Wharf Drive, New Haven) and children 13 and older at the Yale Multiple Sclerosis Center on 6 Devine St in North Haven, CT, just a 10 minute drive from the main Yale Medical Center campus.
The Yale Multiple Sclerosis Center offers streamlined resources including sophisticated brain imaging, pharmacy, an infusion center, and phlebotomy. A specialized nurse is available to answer questions about disease modifying therapies. Social work and nutrition consultants are available. In addition, there are opportunities to participate in MS clinical trials, research studies, and regularly scheduled clinical care conferences.
Pediatric Neuromuscular Clinic
The Yale Pediatric Neuromuscular Clinic is the only pediatric multidisciplinary clinic of its kind in Connecticut, and one of the only five pediatric clinics in New England that is supported by the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). Families of children with muscular dystrophy or other childhood neuromuscular disorders see a multidisciplinary team which includes a neurologist, pediatric cardiologist, pediatric pulmonologist, pediatric orthopedic surgeon, neuromuscular geneticist, pediatric physical and occupational therapist, pediatric psychologist, pharmacist, social worker, dietician, and care coordinator. There is easy access to other relevant subspecialties such as endocrinology, gastroenterology, and general surgery.
Here is a short list of various neuromuscular disorders seen in our clinic:
- Duchenne and Becker Muscular Dystrophy
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy
- Myotonic Dystrophy
- Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophies
- Congenital Myopathies
- Congenital Muscular Dystrophy
- Metabolic Myopathies
- Mitochondrial Myopathies
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Congenital Myasthenic Syndromes
- Charcot Marie Tooth Disease
- CIDP and related disorders
- Other Motor Neuron Disorders
- Spastic Paraplegia
The clinic offers comprehensive diagnostic evaluations by a fellowship trained, and board certified pediatric neuromuscular specialist and a neuromuscular geneticist both with experience in pediatric neuromuscular diseases. State of the art, comprehensive genetic testing, muscle biopsy and pediatric EMG (with or without sedation), as well as various other diagnostic tools are available. We are the only center in the state that offers sedated pediatric EMG. Basic diagnostic imaging, pulmonary function tests, and echocardiography occur on site. Cardiac MRI is available for our patients on the main campus. The state of the art sleep laboratory is run by our pediatric pulmonologist.
The clinic believes in a holistic and customized approach to care of patients with various neuromuscular disorders. The clinic is located in Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Specialty Center at One Long Wharf. One Long Wharf is a short drive from Yale New Haven Hospital and has ample free parking easy access for individuals with impairments.
The clinic is recognized as an SMA Care Center by CureSMA and offers all three FDA approved treatments for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (Spinraza, Zolgensma and Evrysdi). There is a well established Spinraza program which runs in collaboration with Dr. Michele Johnson of Yale Interventional Radiology and is coordinated by Louise Lanouette, RN. We are the only center in CT that provides access to Spinraza to patients of all ages.
The clinic is also recognized as a Certified Duchenne Care Center by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD). We provide access to all FDA approved treatments for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy as well as other neuromuscular disorders. The clinic participates in several clinical trials for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
Cristian Ionita, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics (Neurology)
Director Yale Pediatric MDA Clinic
Phone: (203) 785-4081
Pediatric Specialty Center
1 Long Wharf Drive, 2nd Floor
New Haven, CT, 06511
Meet the Neuromuscular Team
- Dr. Ionita completed his pediatrics and child neurology training at the SUNY Downstate. He later completed pediatric neuromuscular fellowship at the UT Southwestern. Dr. Ionita's clinical interests are in pediatric neuromuscular disorders, electrophysiological studies in children and pediatric headache disorders. He is the Co-Director of Yale New Haven Children's Hospital MDA Care Center and the Director of the Comprehensive Pediatric Headache Clinic. He is interested in clinical trials in pediatric neuromuscular disorders.
Associate Professor Term; Director, Sleep Medicine ProgramDr. Canapari was born in Hartford and grew up in Glastonbury, Connecticut. He attended Yale University for his undergraduate education and received his medical degree from University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He was at Massachusetts General Hospital for both residency (Pediatrics) and fellowship (Pediatric Pulmonology). Dr. Canapari is Board Certified in Pediatrics, Pediatric Pulmonology, and Sleep Medicine. His interests include general pulmonary issues, pediatric sleep problems, and the respiratory issues of children with neuromuscular disease, as well as the use of emerging technology to disseminate useful information about sleep disorders to families.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics; Director, Pediatric Heart Transplant Program, Pediatric Cardiology; Director, Pediatric Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy Program, Pediatric Cardiology2006 - 2009 Fellowship, Pediatric Cardiology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia2009 - 2010 Senior Fellowship, Heart Failure & Transplant, Children's Hospital Boston
Associate Professor of Genetics and of Pediatrics; Associate Chief of Clinical Genetics Operations; Pediatric Genomics Discovery Program
Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation; Associate Residency Program Director, Orthopaedics & RehabilitationDr. Tuason is a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon with a subspecialty expertise in early onset, adolescent, neuromuscular, and complex spinal deformity. He offers a number of different treatments for children with spinal curvatures, including bracing, scoliosis-specific physical therapy, Mehta corrective casting for infantile scoliosis, magnetically controlled growing rods, vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib (VEPTR), halo gravity traction, and spinal fusion. Committed to ensuring the utmost safety and value of scoliosis care, Dr. Tuason believes in a multidisciplinary team approach to ensure that children undergoing scoliosis surgery at Yale New Haven Children's Hospital have reproducible outcomes of the highest quality. As a part of improving safety and outcomes in scoliosis surgery, Dr. Tuason utilizes 3-Dnavigation techniques in complex spine surgery and was recently invited faculty at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meeting to discuss Emerging Technologies in Spine Surgery. He is also an active member of the Growing Spine Committee and Safety and Value Committee within the Scoliosis Research Society. His primary research interests are in quality improvement research.A native of Bucks County, Pa., Dr. Tuason earned a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from The Johns Hopkins University and his medical degree from The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Following this, he finished an orthopaedic residency at The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and completed a pediatric orthopaedic and scoliosis fellowship at The Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. He and his wife, Angie, enjoy being a part of the vibrant community in Trumbull, Conn., along with their children Alyvia and AJ
Assistant ProfessorDr. Areti Vassilopoulos is a Pediatric Health Psychologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics & Child Psychology at Yale School of Medicine. Following her PhD, she completed her doctoral internship specializing in Pediatric Psychology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine & Kennedy Krieger Institute, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship within the Psychiatry Consultation Service and Pediatric Transplant Service at Boston Children's Hospital & Harvard Medical School. Dr. Vassilopoulos provides services through Yale Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH). She is fully embedded within Pediatric Neurology to provide integrated behavioral health care and pediatric health psychology follow-up services. She works with children, teens, and young adults with a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, headaches/migraines, functional neurological symptom disorder (FNSD), muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. Dr. Vassilopoulos is the site director for Comfort Ability Program in partnership with Boston Children's Hospital, which is an internationally disseminated workshop for pediatric pain and somatic symptom management. Dr. Vassilopoulos is involved in training Yale Child Study Center fellows within the Pediatric Psychology track. She also works closely with residents in Pediatric Neurology, and provides lectures in comprehensive pediatric pain management for the Medical Clerkship series through Yale School of Medicine. She leads an advanced pediatric psychology externship, that accepts one student a year. With regards to research, Dr. Vassilopoulos focuses on quality improvement initiatives, outcomes of clinical interventions, the relationship between health and behavior in multidisciplinary clinics, and mental health screening and referrals within pediatric medical ambulatory clinics. Her current ongoing research focuses on pediatric chronic pain, FNSD symptoms, transition from pediatric to adult medical care, and pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis. She also values community outreach, often collaborating with non-profit organizations for community presentations and online workshops.