A CASE FOR CEREBRAL PALSY
Cerebral Palsy is not a condition much heard of – or spoken about, yet it is a medical condition that is increasing at an alarming rate all over the country [i.e. Nigeria]
It is easier to hear about Autism than it is Cerebral Palsy probably because of the degree of awareness already created for autism all over the country. The chronic silence about the reality of this ailment is indeed a perplexing paradox considering its increased proliferation in the Nigerian society.
WHAT IS CEREBRAL PALSY?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a general term for a group of permanent, non-progressive movement disorders that cause physical disability in development mainly in the areas of body movement. It is a central motor dysfunction affecting muscle tone, posture and movement resulting from a permanent, non-progressive defect or lesion of the immature brain. Most cases are congenital, arising at or about the time of birth, and are diagnosed at a young age rather than during adolescence or adulthood. CP is neither genetic nor an infectious disease, and thus it is not contagious. [a]
THE PREVALENCE OF CEREBRAL PALSY
In a three-year study of cerebral palsy (CP), CP accounted for 16.2 per cent of new referrals to a child neurology clinic. 63 per cent of these had potentially preventable causes. [b]
According to a figure provided by the BENOLA FOUNDATION [benola.org], 1 in 90 births is affected by CP that is in contrast to the 1 in 297 births recorded in more developed world.
The prevalence of cerebral palsy among pediatric neurology clinic of the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital from 2000 to 2006 was a dashed 50.3 percent. [c]
Most people living with or managing CP conditions believe they are alone in this until they find or stumble upon some other family undergoing the same situation – same challenges.
IMPLICATION OF THIS PROLIFERATION
This neurological disorder of childhood comes with significant medico-social implications. It will be correct to say that if nothing is done to check and reverse this trend then ten or twenty years from now, the country would have a significant percentage of her population being physically challenged, fully dependent, unproductive and unable to live purposeful lives.
Whilst the country’s population continues to sky rocket, there are grave concerns that there is an acute shortage of care personnel and inadequate finances for effective rehabilitation services required to correct and check this disorder.