Innovative Solutions
CNNH provides comprehensive support to families seeking help for behavioral, learning, developmental and neurological problems
by Phil Gianficaro

When young Leo Harrison was failing to reach developmental milestones, his mother Suzanne began to grow extremely concerned.

The milestones are those that all parents look for as their child nears or reaches a particular age: rolling over without help; speaking first words; taking first steps; and plugging a peg into the correct hole.

And when they didn’t appear, Suzanne Harrison began a long, worrisome journey to find the root cause of her little boy’s issues. She spent years taking Leo to doctors and specialists, who recommended speech and occupational therapies during his preschool years. His muscle-tone problems and issues with fine motor skills also continued into kindergarten and the first years of elementary school.

“I took Leo to various neurologists, pediatricians and therapists,” says Suzanne, of Marlton, N.J. “One of them told me he had something called sensory processing disorder, which meant he had a very immature functioning system. In Leo’s case, he had an underactive sensory; if he hit his head on something, he wouldn’t feel it.

“After a while, and even after I followed the proper instructions for their therapies, he was still having issues. I knew something wasn’t quite right. I felt something more was going on. I needed to find out what that was.”

When Leo was nearly 7 years old, in 2011, Harrison at long last found what she was looking for at The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health (CNNH) in Gibbsboro, N.J. (Camden County). CNNH is a regional leader in the field of child neurology and neurodevelopmental disabilities.

“It didn’t take them long to find out that Leo has a form of epilepsy,” Harrison says. “He has spikes in his brain that make him feel nauseous, panicky, clammy, and make his heart race.

“He doesn’t have seizures like you’d imagine those with epilepsy have; he is still conscious, but just says he starts feeling differently. Sometimes he sees spots that could last two to five minutes. A lot of that is brought on by his being photosensitive. That’s what happens when the right and left sides of the brain aren’t communicating. It’s difficult, but at least we know what it is and how to treat it, thanks to everybody at CNNH.”

Founded by Mark Mintz, M.D., CNNH diagnoses and treats behavioral, learning, neurological and developmental or physical problems. The center takes a comprehensive approach to exploring the biological causes and contributors to a patient’s condition. This is particularly important with ADHD, autism, learning differences, anxiety and bipolar disorder. For each individual, CNNH develops a clinical profile of their problems and issues. Once the doctors understand the causes underlying the symptoms, a treatment regimen is devised that is suited specifically for the patient.

“At CNNH, we have a team of specialists who can cohesively say, ‘This is what we see and this is how we’ll treat it,’” says Dr. Mintz, who is triple-board certified in child neurology, pediatrics and neurodevelopmental disabilities. “You don’t get that in other places.

“What we’ve done is essentially eliminated fragmented care, which is one of the biggest costs in the health-care system and is especially acute in the special needs population,” he continues. “Each specialist a patient may see in other places has blinders—works in a silo, if you will—and doesn’t work with other specialists. That doesn’t happen here.”
CNNH also works with families, teachers and other important people in an individual’s life to build a supportive framework for continued success.

CNNH treats autism, Asperger disorder, ADHD, academic underachievement, Tourette’s and tic syndromes, epilepsy/seizures, acquired brain injuries, sports concussions, headaches and migraines, developmental delay, cerebral palsy, speech and language disorders, and neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, obsessive/compulsive and bipolar disorder. It also treats patients who have neurobehavioral disorders complicated by challenging behaviors such as self-injurious, aggressive and noncompliant behaviors, as well as other disorders affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles.

Boosara Ratanawongsa, M.D., is one of the neurologists for the newly opened CNNH office in King of Prussia. She is proud to be seeing patients at the new site and brings a special dedication and understanding to the practice. Dr. Ratanawongsa, commonly known as “Dr. Boo” to her patients and colleagues, is a dedicated clinician who has personal experience with ADHD and autism, which affects her own two sons; she says that she always wished there was a center like CNNH available to her and her family when they first encountered problems.

A graduate of Georgetown University who earned her medical degree from Columbia University, Dr. Ratanawongsa is board certified by the American Academy of Psychiatry and Neurology with special qualification in child neurology. She has previously worked at Children’s Hospital in Boston, Children’s Specialists of San Diego, and most recently at the Pediatric Specialty Center of the Lehigh Valley Physician Group (part of the Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network). In addition, she has been on the faculties of Harvard Medical School (Boston), University of San Diego Medical School (San Diego) and the Penn State College of Medicine (Hershey). She has gained accolades from patients for her expertise working with individuals with Epilepsy, including the benefits of incorporating nonpharmacological treatments such as Vagal Nerve Stimulation.

More than a Job
Among the leading technologies used at CNNH is Dense Array Electroencephalography (EEG), which is far more advanced than a traditional EEG in detecting electrical abnormalities caused or associated with autism, ADHD, epilepsy, concussions, brain injuries and other neurological disorders. Dense Array EEG is used to view brain activity and pinpoint precisely the root of the electrical abnormalities, enabling doctors to better target treatments and improve outcomes.

“We have the most pediatric experience in the region with this technology,” Dr. Mintz says.

Dr. Mintz attended medical school at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He performed his pediatric residency training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, and completed a pediatric neurology fellowship at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.

Dr. Mintz is on the faculty of UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, and has been on the faculties of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Camden, and is presently a member of the medical staffs of Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center-Camden, Weisman Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital, South Jersey Healthcare and Bancroft.

Dr. Mintz is widely published in the medical literature, and has been an invited lecturer at a number of national and international conferences. He functions as the principal investigator on a variety of clinical drug trials, has been the protocol neurologist for a number of national pediatric AIDS clinical trials, and has participated on an array of committees and task forces of the National Institutes of Health and the New Jersey governor’s office. Additionally, Dr. Mintz has served in the National Health Service Corps of the United States Public Health Service, and has volunteered for medical relief missions in Romania and Russia.

“There’s such a great deal of satisfaction seeing kids make breakthroughs,” Dr. Mintz says. “It’s why we’re here. It’s exhilarating. We want to make a difference in people’s lives. Not a day goes by that it’s not interesting and rewarding. There’s that old cliché: It takes a village. We believe that. We don’t feel an individual provider, physician or other specialist can fully do what we do. It takes a team like we have, each member trained in their own expertise. That’s how you get a consensus and an accurate diagnosis.

“This is not a job for us—it’s a way of life. We’re here to serve those who need our help.”

The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health

Three locations

King of Prussia
651 Park Ave.
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Office: 855-852-8150
Fax: 610-337-1222

Gibbsboro, N.J.
250 Haddonfield-Berlin Road, Suite 105
Gibbsboro, NJ 08026
Office: 856-346-0005
Fax: 856-784-1799

Rochelle Park, N.J.
218 Route 17 North, Suite 150
Rochelle Park, NJ 07662
Office: 855-852-8150
Fax: 201-880-1384