Cerebral palsy affects 40,000 children

By Ifham Nizam

Nearly 40,000 children in Sri Lanka are affected with cerebral palsy – a disorder that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It usually affects children within the first two years.

Cerebral Palsy Lanka Foundation (CPLF) yesterday inaugurated the country’s first Resource and Rehabilitation Centre, at Captain Kelum Rajapakse Mawatha in Wattala, for children affected with cerebral palsy.

The Centre’s Director, Chartered Physiotherapist, Gopi Kitnasamy says six in 1,000 births, in the developed nations, are affected with cerebral palsy while the figure is between 12 and 15 cases per 1,000 births in the developing countries.

He says the prime motive in setting up the Dream Centre was that there had been no centre in Sri Lanka which exclusively dealt with children affected by cerebral palsy. He is the father of two and the eldest, 12-year old son, has been affected with cerebral palsy.

He says his aim it to set up centres in all districts. The Colombo Lady Ridgeway Hospital alone treats between 800 and 1,000 children per year. The Centre is self funded.

Kitnasamy, who is employed at Durdans Hospital says that people with cerebral palsy may have difficulty in walking. They may also have trouble with writing or using scissors. Some have other medical conditions, including seizure disorders or mental impairment.

Cerebral palsy occurs when the areas of the brain that control movement and posture do not develop correctly or get damaged. Early signs of cerebral palsy usually appear before one is two years of age. Babies with cerebral palsy are often slow to roll over, sit, crawl, smile or walk. Some babies are born with cerebral palsy; others get it after they are born, he added.

He says there is no cure for cerebral palsy, but treatment can improve the lives of those who have it. Treatment includes medicines, braces, and physical, occupational and speech therapy.

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