March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month.
I give to you these facts to ponder.
- The average prevalence of cerebral palsy is about 1 in 278 children. This first report of the prevalence and characteristics of CP, the most common cause of motor disability in childhood, are from Georgia, Alabama and Wisconsin. Can you even begin to imagine the numbers if there was a national surveillance?
- Cerebral palsy is one of the most common developmental disabilities in the US, affecting at least 800,000 children, adolescents and adults in America. Cerebral palsy is NOT a disease nor should it be considered one. It is not even a simple or single disorder but rather a broad range of disorders that disrupt a person’s ability to move, sit, stand, walk, talk and use their hands. The severity of the movement disorder and the type of movement difficulties can vary greatly. Some patients have only mild difficulties with balance, walking and fine motor skills while patients at the other extreme are completely trapped in their own bodies, fighting rigid limbs, and unable to speak or swallow.
- There is currently no cure for cerebral palsy and in most cases, it is not preventable. In over 50 years, treatments for CP have not progressed much at all. In fact, today, there remains little consensus among medical professionals regarding what causes CP or how best to treat it. Why do 800,000 or more Americans have CP, and yet we don’t know much more about what causes it or how to prevent it than we did a half century ago?
Resources: Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Reaching for the Stars (RFTS)
Now I give to you my story.
And when I say my story, I mean the story of a sister. I am the proud sister to an amazing woman with cerebral palsy. Melissa is my inspiration and my guiding light on days that I do not think I have the sanity to go on with my mundane life of housework and child rearing. These challenges that most of us mothers face day to day would be a welcome task for Melissa. She is a cheerful, caring, and upbeat woman that happens to be wheelchair bound. What I see as her struggles in every day life she sees as her norm. She depends on others for daily care while still maintaining her Independence. She lives life to it's fullest. Despite her daily challenges of requiring help to get out of bed, use the restroom, shower, get dressed, make food, open doors and go places, she recently moved into an apartment away from home. Still requiring help from aide's, she still has proven that anything is possible. She is an inspiration and a blessing to know.
To understand the challenges that she faced as a child, I invite you to visit Life of Logan and read the story of this young boy. They are similar in many ways. And both of them have strong and amazing parents that have given them such a wonderful life.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and most of learning a little bit about Cerebral Palsy.