Early detection could save babies from cerebral palsy

Parents have been urged to respond early to babies showing disability symptoms, as this would enable them to get treatment at an early stage. Cerebral palsy is a condition caused by injury to the brain before birth, during birth or after birth. The child ends up having impairments in speech and mobility. Signs and symptoms vary among people and over time. Often, symptoms include poor coordination, stiff muscles, weak muscles, and tremors. There may be problems with sensation, vision, hearing, swallowing and speaking Often, babies with cerebral palsy do not roll over, sit, crawl or walk as early as other children of their age. Most often, the problems occur during pregnancy; however, they may also occur during childbirth or shortly after birth. Often, the cause is unknown.Speaking during cerebral palsy awareness day on Friday, Ministry of Health and Wellness representative, Gaboelwe Rammekwa said cerebral palsy is recognized as the leading health condition affecting children, therefore the nation must respond by addressing certain factors. “As a ministry we are just about to approve the policy that addresses specific children with developmental challenges, impairments and disabilities. We wish to do that by improving early identification so that these children will get treatment as early as when they are born,” she said. For her part, Botswana Council of the Disabled Executive Director, Sekgabo Ramsey said in all cases children with cerebral palsy have the right to grow under the care of the parents and should receive services that will give them independent living hence the need for physiotherapy to address gross motor development deficits, occupational therapy for finer motor and Activities of Daily Living (ADL) training, speech therapy for speech impairment. “The right to independent living is quiet crucial because if one does not acquire the necessary skills they become excluded from the society. Those that have the opportunity to come centers like the Cheshire Foundation are lucky because they receive all the necessary services to get them full independent in functional and life skills”. Ramsey highlighted that the Cheshire Foundation offers physiotherapy and children enter mainstream schools and are able to access health centers, rehabilitation centers and are able to live independently. “ There are however challenges met by those that do not have the opportunity to enter NGO centres schools for rehabilitation and education. Those children are really excluded in the society. They are in our society hidden behind doors. The government must build residential institutions of care,” she said.