The Many Faces of a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis

No two people are exactly the same. Even identical twins have subtle differences that only the parents can detect. The same can be said of individuals with disability. A brain injury suffered during or after birth, children can have varying degrees of disability, depending on the extent of damage in the first few minutes, hours, or days outside of the womb. Unfortunately, many parents are ill-prepared for a doctor to pronounce that their long-awaited baby is less than perfect, and the many faces of a cerebral palsy diagnosis are difficult to comprehend.

Mild, Moderate, or Severe Cerebral Palsy

At the time your child is determined to have a birth defect, the doctor may predict mild, moderate, or severe CP. In many cases, only time will tell what your child can/cannot achieve as the years go by.

Mild Cerebral Palsy: An individual who has been diagnosed may not seem to be disabled to the general population. Maybe he/she will have a sloppy gait when walking. Hand dexterity may be compromised, making fine motor skill tasks more difficult. Unless you are acquainted with this person, the problem may go unnoticed. In fact, strangers may simply assume someone with a mild case  had one too many beers at happy hour.

Moderate Cerebral Palsy: A person diagnosed with moderate disability has more physical and possibly mental challenges. Thus, it is hard to mistaken the signs of a brain injury for pure clumsiness or inebriation. Individuals with moderate CP will likely need physical, occupational, and possibly speech therapy to realize their full potential as adults.

In many cases, mobility aids and assisted living devices may be needed to make life easier. For example, ambulatory aids like crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs can mean the difference between a full and active life and being totally dependent on a caregiver.

Severe Cerebral Palsy: A diagnosis of severe trauma to the brain can be devastating for loved ones. Generally, the individual has full body involvement, including a mental disability. However, it is amazing to see people so encumbered by the injury still able to accomplish abilities thought beyond them. For example, electronic aids help people with the most limiting cases communicate by learning to use a touch screen device.

When first diagnosed, the many faces of cerebral palsy are blurred and hidden in the shadows of time to come. But, with a positive outlook and connections to the products and services available to make life a little easier, a lot of parents and other caregivers have helped special needs kids grow up and have happy successful lives.

As time goes on,  each life comes into focus, with a hope and a promise. In some cases, individuals with this brain injury grow up to lead virtually normal, successful lives. Others may need more help, but still manage to be very productive and independent as possible. Yes. Even those who are deemed severely disabled can have victories that make life a little easier and even enjoyable. The key is to not dwell on the impossible, but to imagine the possible. Despite the many different manifestations of CP, most can be worn with a smile, given the right outlook.