World Cerebral Palsy Day
Cerebral palsy is a chronic medical condition that affects many children and restricts their body movements and muscle coordination. It is a very common physical disability and it is estimated that every 3 in 1000 babies in India suffer from this condition. (Source)
Originally termed as ‘spastic diplegia’, this condition was first published in medical journals by Dr William John Little in 1861. Dr William himself was partially disabled by polio and spent most of his life studying other disabilities. For many years, people referred to Dr William John Little’s finding as Little’s disease until 1889 when Sir William Osler used the term ‘cerebral palsy’ based on the Latin words ‘cerebral’ (brain) and palsy (‘paralysis’).
Cerebral palsy affects babies during their birth and, hence, it is very important to diagnose it at a young age. The symptoms of this condition include –
- Abnormal reflexes
- Lack of alertness
- Trembling of arms and legs
- Weak muscles
- Favouring one side of the body
- Problems in sucking and swallowing
- Abnormal crying
One should also look out for developmental delays in children. For example, if a baby can’t roll over or has trouble crawling, it is a matter of concern. If the baby learns to walk much later than other normal babies, one should get the child checked as a precautionary measure.
There are various reasons that can lead to cerebral palsy and a majority of them happen during pregnancy. Accidents, falling sick or developing infections during pregnancy are the most common causes. Also, lack of oxygen during birth can lead to this condition.
A lot of treatments and therapies exist for cerebral palsy even though a complete recovery is not possible. Exercises like swimming, speech therapies, electrical stimulation or sensory integration can help. Most children who undergo these treatments are able to recover partially and live a near normal life.
The Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy (IICP), Kolkata has helped many patients overcome their disabilities and lead a happy life. Some people have also built successful careers for themselves. For more about IICP, please visit http://iicpindia.org/
“The world worries about disability more than disabled people do.” – Warwick Davis
For parents who have children with cerebral palsy, it can be a very difficult and traumatic experience to raise them. Here are a few tips that can help –
- Never lose hope – There are many successful and famous people who made it big in spite of their disabilities. Some of these people include Stephen Hawking, Christy Brown, Frida Kahlo and Sudha Chandran. Even though their disabilities were different, they all overcame it with strength and faith. Never lose hope and strongly believe that your child can be successful in life.
- Do your research – Stay updated with the latest advancements in the medical industry. New treatments emerge every day and they might help your child.
- Ask for help – Do not hesitate or feel shy to seek help. As a parent with a disabled child, one needs to be mentally and emotionally strong to support oneself. Hence, reach out to friends and family for support.
- Adapt and learn – Help your child to be aware of his/her disability and find ways for them to be independent. Let them learn and adapt to this condition which will eventually boost their self-esteem.
- Be patient – Don’t push your child. Be patient and flexible. Give them time to cope with their condition and support them emotionally.