Monday, March 26, 2012


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Raising a child with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a medical condition caused by a permanent brain injury that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth. About 1 in every 500 babies are affected. The effect of Cerebral Palsy, or CP, is characterized by lack of muscle control and body movement. While it is not a progressive disease of the brain, the effects of CP may change gradually over the years. CP can occur due to a variety of causes including an illness, prematurity, or difficult delivery. Many of the causes still remain a mystery. CP affects childrens muscle tone in a variety of ways. Cerebral palsy can range from mild to severe depending on the location and size of the injury. It does not necessarily mean that all limbs will be impacted. Cerebral palsy cannot be cured but medicines and sometimes surgery may be recommended to treat specific problems such as muscle spasms. Another finding in the study was that twins who survived a fetal death of their co-twin were 108 times more likely to have CP than single children and 1 times more likely than twins whose co-twin survived. Three out of four of theses children were from identical twin sets and were normal or nearly normal in birth weight. The risk of CP was similar in twins of like gender or unlike gender pairings.

Often, parents of a child with cerebral palsy must provide lifelong care plus ongoing medical care.

Providing this care is expensive. Parents, understandably, want to know if a medical mistake caused their childs condition, and whether they can receive financial and other help in dealing with the challenges of raising a disabled child. The most important people in any childs life are, of course, the parents. Children require time, patience, love, dedication, and many other things. Raising a child with Cerebral palsy requires more of these qualities. The emotional burdens brought about by raising a child with developmental, mental, or physical disabilities pose challenges to those raising the child. When a parent first learns that their child has a disability, it is said that they will go through a process of grieving. This process is often described as similar to mourning a death, or going through a divorce. Five different stages of feelings that all parents of children of cerebral palsy will endure have been identified. These are shock, grief, denial, anger, and acceptance. This feeling model is not universal, as people will deal with things in their own way. However, most will feel some degree of each, and professional therapy may be needed. There is no universal parents guide to raising a child with CP. Each must find their own way. Nothing in life really prepares anyone for being disabled and when it is your baby or child who is suddenly the recipient of this label, life may suddenly seem very unfair. People do not ask for this, and there is very little they can do to change it. Their sense of control over their lives and the life of their child is at risk. Relationships with other family members, especially the spouse if there is one, can be under great stress and it may be all they can do to hold themselves together. It is okay to be angry and to do their best to channel their anger into getting the best services they can for their child.

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A person with cerebral palsy also has to cope with disabilities and handicaps. A disability is a physical loss of function such as being unable to walk, having difficulty with hand control or speech. A handicap is the degree to which that disability puts you at a disadvantage in daily life. For instance, someone who is very short-sighted may be considered to have a disability, but he/she is unlikely to consider this a handicap if he/she has corrective lenses. A disability may prevent someone with CP from climbing stairs, but this will only be a handicap if the building he/she wants to enter is not wheelchair accessible. It is very hurtful to have someone pat you on the head if you are sitting in a wheelchair, or to walk away because they cannot understand what you are trying to say to them. Prejudice and teasing can be very damaging. A good sense of self-esteem is required to cope with these negative attitudes. Children can also be handicapped if they are over-protected and become too dependent. People with disabilities are people first and should never be described by negative labels like wheelchair-bound, spastic, or afflicted with cerebral palsy. All people share similar needs, desires, and responsibilities. It seems that some people think just because somebody has Cerebral Palsy, they must be stupid.

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