Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common physical disability in children. There are an estimated 17 million people around the world living with the condition and an additional 350 million individuals are closely connected to someone with CP. It is to celebrate and affirm the lives of these people, as well as to raise awareness about CP, that World Cerebral Palsy Day (WCPD) exists.
The first WCPD, launched by a collaboration between the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Australia and United Cerebral Palsy in the USA, took place on October 6th. Entitled 'Change my World in One Minute', the campaign reached out to people with CP all over the world, seeking ideas for new products and technologies that could help people with the condition to live a better life.
The response was massive, with close to 500 ideas being posted on the WCPD website. After three ideas were selected for the shortlist, a call went out to inventors: researchers at the University of Virginia in the USA won the commission. The research team designed and developed a solar-powered wheelchair, the idea for which was suggested by Alper Sirvan, a Turkish man who has CP. Sirvan was presented with the prototype wheelchair a year later to mark WCPD 2013.
By 2015, WCPD had developed into a far-reaching social movement, raising awareness of the major issues that affect people living with CP irrespective of their economic, cultural, geographical and other differences. Today, WCPD is supported by more than 450 CP organisations in 65 countries, as well as many parent groups, hospitals, schools, research institutions and other organisations.
One of the key goals of WCPD is to 'promote more inclusive societies for people with CP'. In many societies around the world, people with CP suffer different forms of social exclusion: some cultures even believe that the mother of a child with CP is 'cursed' and is being punished for some transgression. In other societies, people with CP are pitied and treated as perpetual children, prevented from living independently even where this would be entirely possible. WCPD thus provides a unique opportunity to 'produce actions that will lead to more open minds and societies'.
Living with CP can indeed be challenging but, with the right support, people with CP can live fulfilling lives just the same as anyone else. They are able to attend mainstream schools and universities as well as working and raising a family. Currently, there is no known cure for CP but much research is being done. A variety of treatments, including physiotherapy, medication and sometimes surgery, can help to ameliorate the symptoms of CP. Jobskin® is an expert supplier of Sensory Dynamic Orthosis (SDO®) garments, the wearing of which has been clinically proven to help people with CP by improving positioning, posture and function through the provision of dynamic compression, musculo-skeletal alignment and sensory feedback.