Let’s embrace the human diversity that cerebral palsy brings - Physiotherapist

Cape Coast, Oct. 20, GNA – To be able to appreciate the struggles of persons living with Cerebral palsy, all must embrace the human diversity the disease brings, Mr Albert Acquah, the Chief Physiotherapist at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital (CCTH), has said.

He said cerebral palsy (CP), like many other physical disabilities, was highly stigmatised and marked as a medical condition that attracted negative attitudes within the community.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Acquah said some misconceptions around CP suggested that people living with the disease had an intellectual disability and did not live long.

That, he said, was not entirely true unless it affected the part of the brain that controlled speech, adding that; “a person with CP might have trouble talking clearly or not being able to speak at all but might be intellectually sound".

He gave the assurance that people living with the disease could live long if society accepted and loved them more like every other person.

It was the reason a day was set aside in October each year to help create awareness of the disease to stop stigmatisation.

On signs and symptoms, Mr Acquah said the signs of cerebral palsy usually appeared in the first few months of life, but many children were not diagnosed until age two or later as they grew.

He advised caregivers to monitor their ward's temperature and reoccurring sicknesses like fever or malaria and quickly take them to a health facility for proper diagnosis and treatment.

“All people with CP have problems with movement and posture, and some also have some level of intellectual disability, seizures, and abnormal physical sensations or perceptions as well as other medical disorders,” he noted.

"People with CP also may have impaired vision or hearing, and language, and speech problems.”

Mr Acquah called on the Government, firms and all well-meaning Ghanaians to help provide treatment aid, particularly for children, to ease the burden on parents in taking care of them.

A parent who pleaded anonymity said life had been difficult ever since her 13-year-old son started showing symptoms during his infancy, adding that she had the sole responsibility of carrying his son at her back to and from school each day.

Believing her son’s situation was spiritual, she noted that they consulted pastors and herbalists in his early stages but all efforts proved futile.

“Well, there’s not much I can say, now I’ve come to terms with the facts that that is how he was born and I can only but pray that a miracle happens,” she said.

She said her son's treatment was costly and urged society to accept their human differences and stop the stigmatisation because it was both inhumane and embarrassing.