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Pioneer and achieve: child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Máxima

Bas Oude Ophuis, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the UMC Utrecht, has also worked at the Princess Máxima Center since the beginning of 2019 to further develop the mental care of children with cancer where necessary. “For example, I like to contribute ideas for the treatment of acquired brain injury (ABI), such as cognitive failure, socio-emotional problems and behavioral disorder. These symptoms are common in psychiatry, but when ABI is involved we often have difficulty dealing with them. It is my ambition to gain more knowledge and experience in this area together with colleagues from the Princess Máxima Center,” he says.

As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, Bas regularly consults on a wide range of mental problems. “We are implementing this together with the medical social workers, pedagogical staff and psychologists at the Máxima, which is a remarkable achievement. There are only a few centers in the world where child psychiatry is involved in this in this way,” he says enthusiastically. Together with pediatric oncologist Judith Spijkerman and anesthesiologist Maarten Mensink, he wrote a protocol for the treatment of delirium in children: “We feel that patients are insufficiently screened for delirium, which we hope to change with this protocol.”


Bas Oude Ophuis mentions the care for children with hypothalamic dysfunction (e.g. due to a craniopharyngioma) at the Princess Máxima Center as an example of the unique collaboration. “Children can become morbidly obese and their behavior is often disrupted. We try to tackle this with a multidisciplinary team together with pediatric endocrinologist Hanneke van Santen with, among other things, dexamphetamine. This drug is normally given to children with ADHD, but we use it specifically here because of its side-effect profile with reduced appetite and accelerated metabolism.”

Comfort blanket

Bas says, “From the very beginning it struck me how much the Princess Máxima Center can and wants to invest in psychological and psychosocial care. The comfort blanket that this creates can serve as an international example. At the same time I see the downside: at the end of the treatment, children and parents actually have to detach, stand on their own two feet again, and sometimes they become desolate. Fortunately, there is the initiative of the LATER clinic, which plays an essential role in this!”

The work at the Máxima is also impressive for an experienced child and youth psychiatrist: “The visible struggle of families against their child’s cancer and hence death is the most confronting. As the father of a son and daughter I regularly have a lump in my throat, often in response to the resilience shown by patients and parents.”

More information:
 Bas Oude Ophuis, child and adolescent psychiatrist: s.b.j.oudeophuis@umcutrecht.nl. For consultations and other questions, the AIOS is the first point of contact, via the secretary’s office, telephone 088-7557473. There is close cooperation with the Psycho-oncology.