Several studies show that the United States has a record of almost half a million children under age 18 suffering from varying degrees of cerebral palsy. Included in the numbers are those victims of medical negligence.
Unable to Start or Stop
Cerebral palsy is the abnormal development of the child’s brain that affects the ability to control muscles and movement. It is not communicable; neither does it get worse over time but the disability lasts a lifetime. 60% of those who have cerebral palsy suffer other developmental disorders; 40% is an intellectual disability. Most survive while unable to move like most normal children. Some die shortly after birth and likely do not get reported as cerebral palsy-related deaths.
A Slow Start for Cerebral Palsy Studies
Largely the work of the Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP), the first multi-state study of 2002 broke ground. Georgia provided a model now used in 10 states, though only Wisconsin, Missouri, and Georgia continue to monitor cerebral palsy. In 2008, these monitoring sites report that cerebral palsy remains more common among boys, occurs more in black children than white and that 58% of those who had cerebral palsy are able to walk without any help.
Getting Ahead of the Curve
As technology improved, so did reporting. Digitization of health information has helped organizations including the CDC, United Cerebral Palsy, Cerebral Palsy Foundation, the American Association for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, My Child Without Limits, and the Cerebral Palsy Research Registry to work closer. Focus on care and support is paramount even as information continues to feed research. Fundraisers annually invite people to walk, run, and ‘roll’, helping keep a spotlight on the disorder that has yet to find a cure.
There is promising hope that cerebral palsy continuing research will sustain the growing momentum of care and support for generations to come.