...or more importantly, what is it NOT?
CP, which is short for cerebral palsy, is a term not always officially diagnosed with neurological conditions however almost always a part of those conditions. Since cerebral means having to do with the brain, and palsy means the weakness of or inability to efficiently use muscles... that makes it a sure tie-in to most any brain associated condition. There are a great many types and varying degrees of CP, depending upon the extent of and area of which the damage to the brain has occurred.
Now that I've given a rundown, let me share with you an amazing article from a Twitter/Blogger-friend, Erin, living with CP. She's amazing, not only in the respect that she is an adult living with CP, but in the fact that she is also a pre-med student. I told you, pretty amazing :) and here's her article:
Cerebral Palsy: What It Isn’t
JULY 25, 2010
All too often, as a college and pre-medical student with cerebral palsy, I’m asked what cerebral palsy is, but no one ever seems too concerned with what it isn’t, and to me, that’s the most important part.
Too many assumptions and stereotypes plague the world of chronic health than do the positives, the abilities of patients, and the strength of their families.
I’ll do you a favor. Let’s explore a few things that cerebral palsy isn’t, and I think that by doing that, you’ll find that you’ll know exactly what the diagnosis means!
Cerebral palsy isn’t a sickness.
Cerebral palsy isn’t synonymous for stupid.
Cerebral palsy doesn’t mean that someone can’t be an independent thinker.
Cerebral palsy doesn’t mean that someone can’t have a productive, healthy social life.
Cerebral palsy doesn’t mean we should be treated any differently.
The bottom line is that people, regardless of their diagnosis, challenges, or whatever else life has thrown their way, are just that. They’re people, which means that they have emotion, that they have a voice, and that they have an opinion. It’s an absolute honor to have challenges, and I wouldn’t trade mine for the world.
AUGUST 10, 2010
The most common question, aside from meriting an explanation of the diagnosis, that I receive is, “If you could change it, would you?” The answer is absolutely not. Do you think there should be a cure? Absolutely not.
My challenges have made me who I am. Every day, I learn a more efficient way of executing a task that may be mundane for some of you. Just today, I figured out that I could plug both my iPad and MacBook into the same outlet of the extension cord to make it easier to access! That’s no big deal to you, I know. To me, everything is a milestone, and the little things mean more than I could ever adequately describe. As a doctor, I’ll have a relational aspect with my patients that is fairly uncommon, and for that, I’m truly grateful. As a pediatrician, parents need a source of comfort that is not often easy for doctors to provide in the exam room. I couldn’t be more excited to share my knowledge and experiences with the ones who need it most.
Life is meant to be lived. If you continually think about the things you are unable to do and focused on the “why” of life, you can’t enjoy it and relish in what it might have to offer. In my opinion, a “cure” would be the “red dye” to the naturalistic qualities of life. To take such a crucial aspect of a person is selfish, to take his uniqueness is contributing to his self-deprecation, and why change something that is meant to be? The fact that you might be in pain at times is unfortunate, but just think. There are people who would do most anything for a plate of food. Blessings define the condition I have.
Science says it would be tough. Cerebral palsy isn’t genetic. It’s a congenital brain injury sustained before, during, or just after birth, so while a cure is virtually unpredictable, prevention may be possible. Pre-natal diagnostics are difficult as well, simply due to the fact that we’ve not yet determine if there are “triggers” to cause the brain injury such as certain habits that the mother may adopt during pregnancy or the size of the baby or anything like that. Most all babies with cerebral palsy or similar brain injuries and birth complications are premature. So, where do we start?
Kids are still kids; people are still people. Though many people with cerebral palsy have learning difficulties, speech difficulties, mobility impairments, and the like, they are still people. They still deserve the chance to learn, to grow, to live, to laugh, and to love and be loved.
If you’re a parent with a child with cerebral palsy or other special need, you’re probably thinking, “If my child were cured, life would be so much easier.” While that may be true, I can assure you that your child wouldn’t be who he or she is today without it, and it has shaped his or her self confidence, self image, and self esteem more than is describable. You will have your hard days as a parent, but everyone will! Find joy in the fact that your child, just as any other, is a miracle. He’s a miracle of life, he’s a miracle of spirit, and he’s a miracle of heart. One day, he’ll grow up to be someone’s greatest mentor or teacher, often without saying a word.
If you’re a medical professional who treats individuals with cerebral palsy or other special needs, you may say that if children didn’t have these diagnoses, your job would be so much easier. It’s true. It would, but would you learn as much? Would you have the opportunity to look into the eyes of a child to say that they’ll be okay, that they have a chance at life, or that they’re a beacon of light and courage. Are they the reason that you do what you do?
Though there are some negatives associated with the diagnosis of cerebral palsy, I wouldn’t trade it for all the world. Would you?