Friday, March 2, 2012

Flashback Friday: Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

Flashing back to last March:

Happy National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month
By Alicia Harper, Small Portion of a Life's Journey

Ok, not happy about cerebral palsy but thrilled to help raise awareness of the condition affecting my own son along with every 2-3 babies in every 1000 births in the United States alone. In case you're trying to calculate that further, that presents our country with 10,000 new cerebral palsy cases per year... and remember, that's just in the US! I've been away from this blog for a month now, sorting through life and taking a much needed step back to re-assess. What better way to make my way back to the blogging world than by announcing the start of Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month this March. 

CP is actually an umbrella term that describes a whole host of neuromuscular impairments, as opposed to a specific disease. It is generally associated with other neurological conditions, such as my own son's diagnosis of hydranencephaly. There are actually three main types of CP to define the symptoms: 

~spastic describes an increase in muscle tone occurring in either one side of the body (hemiparesis), all four limbs (quadra paresis), or just both legs (spastic deplagia); it generally presents from damage to the white matter of the brain, however occasional damage to the gray matter is presented as well; muscle  weakness with highly impaired fine and gross motor skills are apparent as well; this spasticity also takes control of bodily functions within organs as well

~choreoathetoid is obvious when the body is under stress or pushed in to voluntary movement, causing abnormal movements such as twitching and jerking; dystonia and choreoathetotic movement disorder are the two classes of the CP

~hypotonic describes a very floppy, rag-doll bodily type; generally associated with the most severe of neurological impairments which likely developed much earlier in utero than other CP types

Then there are mixed variations of the above, for example my son displays symptoms of all three CP types, primarily spastic hypotonic CP with some instances of severe myoclonus jerks associated with choreoathetoid CP. We'll just say he's "well-rounded" in the CP classification system. Although Brayden has recently began displaying seizure activity, another common symptom associated with CP, some children never endure a seizure and actually have such mild CP that it goes unnoticed with early intervention and therapeutic treatment.

While I'll spend other days this month outlining details surrounding awareness in recognition, one HUGE inspiration to individuals living with CP comes via the announcement yesterday that Oprah Winfrey has given Zach Anner, who is wheelchair bound and living with "the sexiest of the palsies" CP, his own television show on her network OWN. In his initial interview video, he disclosed his concept for a travel show highlighting abilities for the wrongly perceived persons with limited abilities whether those limitations are financial or mobility related (you'll have to click stop on the music player above):

Amazingly, since I'm a huge fan, John Mayer even posted a youtube response to Zach in support of his efforts... even offering to write the theme song for his show:

Zach's proposed show pitch, as shared via the final episode of the competition on OWN, is "Rolling Around the World with Zach Anner."

“I want to show people how they can get around on a budget cause I have some problems myself getting around, but not everybody has one of these things,” Anner said, referring to his power wheelchair. “So it’s a show for everybody that just shows them that you can see a place as long as you have the right attitude and then when things go wrong you just adapt and have fun with it.”

Way to go Zach, and best wishes!!

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