Monday, March 19, 2012

What do you know about Cerebral Palsy?

Before I became a caretaker for people with developmental disabilities, I didn't know the first thing about  Cerebral palsy ( pronounced seREEbrawl PALLzee). But working with these individuals over the past two years has taught me so much. March is Disabilities Awareness month. What better time to learn about CP?
 What is Cerebral palsy?
The textbook definition of  CP is " a group of disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking" (A.D.A.M., 2009). But what does that mean? Basically, CP affects how the body functions and causes a lot of physical limits. These limits can range from very mild to very severe, only involve one side of the body or both sides, be more pronounced in either the arms or legs, or involve both the arms and legs (A.D.A.M., 2009).  There are also many different types of CP. The most common kind is spastic cerebral palsy, which means the muscles in the body are extremely tight and prevent the person from using them fully. A person with spastic cerebral palsy may be unable to extend his or her arm out straight or move their torso.This often affects  the ability to walk or do basic daily functions.
How should I act around someone with CP?
One thing to keep in mind about CP is that although the person may have severe physical limitations, that does not mean their brain does not work. Although mental retardation or muteness may accompany CP, you never know until you try talking together one-on-one. Don't make assumptions on first glance! People with CP still need the same care and respect as anyone else in the world. Try  talking to them and understanding their story.
One great example of this paradox is my friend Adam. Adam has spastic CP in all four limbs, which prevents him from walking unsupported. He is non-verbal which means he cannot speak. So from the outside it would be easy to assume he cannot communicate with you. That's not true at all!  To communicate he uses a board with letters and key phrases which he can point to with his arm or using a special hat. He also loves to surf the internet and chat or email online. On the inside Adam is just like everyone else. He is extremely intelligent and is studying business; in fact he owns his own video rental franchise. He tools around on an electric wheelchair and is truly a daredevil. Watch the video below of us riding the Skycoaster at Indiana Beach! Adam is loving every minute of it and I am screaming my head off :)
 March is Disabilities Awareness Month. . . educate yourself!


A.D.A.M. Medical Dictionary. (2009). Cerebral Palsy. US National Library of Medicine.    
              Retrieved from

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