Guest Article: Cerebral Palsy and How to Help
March was Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. To show our support, Capstone Editing asked Jennifer LaRocco from Cerebral Palsy Guidance to give us some information about the condition and how to help those living with it.
Raising awareness for cerebral palsy (CP) and funding for research is important all year long. But March is the time designated to make an extra effort—to learn more, to spread information about living with CP and to support fundraising initiatives.
About Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month
Reaching for the Stars, a parent advocacy group, started National Cerebral Palsy Month in the USA in 2006. Parents of children with CP wanted to create more awareness of the condition and help educate others. Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month is now celebrated every year, and many people join in all over the world, hosting events and raising money for ongoing research. Green is the official colour for the month and for CP awareness.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
CP is the most common cause of motor disabilities in childhood, but many people know little or nothing about it. Educating and raising awareness are the primary goals of Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. Here are some facts about CP:
- CP is more accurately a group of disorders rather than one condition. These disorders are neurological conditions that affect movement, muscles, coordination, balance, posture and mobility.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 345 American children will be diagnosed with CP.
- The underlying cause of CP is brain damage or abnormal brain development. This can occur during foetal development, during childbirth or shortly after birth. Many things can cause brain damage or abnormal development, from maternal illness and infections to complications during labour, but often, the cause remains unknown.
- The primary symptoms of CP are related to motor function. They include over-toned or under-toned muscles, poor balance, muscle spasms, difficulty walking and, in some cases, paralysis.
- The severity of symptoms varies widely from one individual to another. Some children have minimal disabilities—others cannot walk or care for themselves.
- CP is often associated with additional conditions and symptoms. These can include seizures, speech disorders, hearing or vision loss, and cognitive disabilities.
- There is no cure for CP. However, it is not progressive, and early and appropriate treatments make a big difference.
How to Support People Living with Cerebral Palsy
Whether you know someone with CP or not, you can get involved and help spread the word about it. One of the easiest ways is to wear CP awareness ribbons or T-shirts. These can spark conversations and give you a chance to educate others. Another way is to post about CP awareness on your social media accounts.
You can also search your area for events that raise awareness or that support people living with CP. Local chapters of groups like United Cerebral Palsy or community centres that work with disabled residents may be hosting events and fundraisers, especially in March.
At any time of the year, another way to support CP awareness and people living with CP is to make a donation. Monetary support for local and national groups helps fund services for disabled individuals, advocacy and policy changes, and research into earlier diagnoses and better treatments.
CP is common, but it remains misunderstood by most people not directly affected by it. Each year, Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month is a great chance for everyone to get involved, share information and support those living with CP—and throughout the year, there are still plenty of ways you can help.