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Paper on Cerebral Palsy

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What is Cerebral Palsy? According to Perlstein it is a “term used to designate any paralysis, weakness, in coordination, or functional aberration of the motor system resulting from brain pathology.”(McDonald 7). Most cases of Cerebral Palsy are diagnosed before age three, the sooner it is diagnosed the better the chance the child has of living a normal life. This condition usually occurs during birth or infancy and is more frequent in underdeveloped nations. The exact cause can not always be determined but according to Yahoo health premature infants have a higher chance of developing Cerebral Palsy because of hypoxia or low oxygen levels in the brain. It can also be caused by cerebral injuries due to illness, or a head injury that caused hematoma or blood vessel damage in the brain.

There are many treatment options available to treat individuals who suffer from Cerebral Palsy. Since no two children are affected in exactly the same way individual treatment options may vary. Some treatment options include physical therapy to help develop motor skills, occupational therapy to improve posture and movement, and a speech pathologist will help develop speech skills. Other treatment options include surgery, medication, sensory integration therapy, or the use of adaptive equipment.(http://content.health.msn.com) In order for any treatment program to be successful the parents must be involved, they must work with their child at home and be committed to improving their child’s quality of life. The earlier a child is placed in a treatment program the better the chances they have of living a close to normal life. The sooner the muscles are trained the easier it is to correct faulty habits and poor muscle control. That is not to say though that once a child hits a certain age therapy will be ineffective; good results can still be produced. More time and effort will just be needed.

The essay “The Letter A” by Christy Brown discuses one mothers persistence in dealing with her son who suffered from Cerebral Palsy. When others told her that he was a lost cause and that she should not waste her time in dealing with him, she never lost faith and did not stop trying to reach her son. She would spend hours each day trying to get him to repeat words and hold himself up, she would continually have no success, but she never stopped trying. Until one day with the help of his mother Christy drew the letter A with his left foot. “I had done it! It had started – the thing that was to give my mind its chance of expressing itself.”(Brown 98)

Christy grew up in Ireland where the occurrence of Cerebral palsy is higher than in the United States or other industrialized nations. The incidence of Cerebral Palsy in the United States is only two to four out of every one thousand born. (http://health.yahoo.com) If Christy had been born in an industrialized nation such as the United States he probably would have been diagnosed at an earlier age and immediately placed in a treatment program, instead of having doctors tell his mother that he was mentally retarded and a lost cause. Even though he turned out ok that is not so for most children with Cerebral Palsy who do not receive treatment. If his mother was not so determined he would have most likely turned out to be a vegetable. Unfortunately not all mothers have the determination that Christy’s mother had!

Many people have never known someone who has suffered from Cerebral Palsy, but I do, my mothers friends son Sam. Sam was a premature baby who suffered from hypoxia which caused him to develop Cerebral Palsy. He was diagnosed when he was nine months old after his mother had noticed similar symptoms that Christy’s mother had noticed; “my head had a habit of falling backward whenever she tried to feed me. She attempted to correct this by placing her hand on the back of my neck to keep it steady. But when she took it away back it would drop again. Then she became aware of other defects as I got older. She saw that my hands were clenched nearly all of the time and were inclined to twine behind my back” (Brown 94). In Sam’s case though as soon as his mother noticed these symptoms she took him to the doctor, they diagnosed him with Cerebral Palsy and he began treatment. Christy was not as fortunate, his mother brought him to the doctor but he was never diagnosed, he was simply labeled retarded and his mother was told that there was no hope for him. This is the opposite of what doctors told Sam’s mother in the United States.

It is a shame that just because someone lives in an underdeveloped nation they have to suffer. I feel that any person in any country should be able to get the best medical care available. This is especially true for children because it is not their fault that they were born with or have developed a disability in an underdeveloped nation where they can not get proper medical attention.

It is unfortunate that many countries do not have the proper medical supplies and training available to all of its citizens. It is not uncommon that someone living in an underdeveloped nation will be misdiagnosed because the doctors have not received the correct training nor do they have the proper supplies to carry out the necessary procedures.

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