HI takes action to include children with cerebral palsy
To mark World Cerebral Palsy Day on 6th October, Humanity & Inclusion (HI) highlights the importance of providing care and treatment to children born with this life-long condition.
Bilal has cerebral palsy. The exercises he does with the support of the occupational therapists of HI help him interacting with his brothers. (Archive photo) | © Benoit Almeras / HI
Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disorder encountered by rehabilitation teams in the countries where Humanity & Inclusion (HI) works. Assisting children with cerebral palsy is therefore a major priority for HI.
Seventeen million people worldwide live with cerebral palsy. It is the most common cause of motor disorder in children. Globally, people with cerebral palsy are still subject to discrimination, putting many people in vulnerable positions.
Cerebral palsy is a group of lifelong conditions that affect movement and co-ordination. It's caused by a problem with the brain that develops before, during or soon after birth. It is sometimes associated with severe cognitive and sensory impairments. It can also make it difficult to communicate with a child, to calm them and take care of them, which sometimes leads to rejection.
However, depending on the severity, if cerebral palsy is detected early and if the parents are provided with information and the child receives immediate rehabilitation care, the likelihood of further complications can be reduced. The correct treatment can quickly can transform the life of both the child and the family and increase their chances of being able to walk, go to school, work and life a fulfilling life.
Intersectoral approach: family-centred care
HI takes an intersectoral approach to healthcare and physical and functional rehabilitation, while working as closely as possible with the family in order to provide them with the best possible care and treatment.
First step: early detection of cerebral palsy
Children born with cerebral palsy in the low- and-middle-income countries where HI works are often extremely vulnerable.
Raising the awareness of parents: changing attitudes
Many families never visit a health or rehabilitation centre or attend too late. Sometimes parents are too poor to stop work or to pay for transport to health centres. Others feel ashamed and frightened their children will be seen as different. In some countries, children with cerebral palsy are hidden away or ostracised.
This is why HI runs family education activities to raise the awareness of parents, along with their communities, and to help people learn more about the condition and the possibilities that treatment can open up for a young child. Parents also learn about the significant role they play in helping their child at health centres and in their future care.
Rehabilitation: a major step towards including children with cerebral palsy
Most of a child’s early learning and brain development happens before the age of five. Early detection of cerebral palsy is essential to providing an immediate rehabilitation response, in addition to mobility aids and other supports. They are included in the services provided to children with cerebral palsy by HI’s rehabilitation teams or its partners. They must be personalised, and children need to learn how to use them, with help from their parents.
Continuing our efforts
Many people with cerebral palsy live long and fulfilling lives thanks to the work done by HI and other organisations around the world. But too many people are still left behind. We must continue our efforts to ensure very young people are able to access the immediate care they need and to increase their chances of enjoying the same rights and opportunities as everyone else in society.
 GMFCS: Global Motor Function Classification Scale