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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cerebral palsy (CP) (also cerebral pares) is an umbrella term encompassing a group of non-progressive,[1][2] non-contagious motor conditions that cause physical disability in human development.[3]

Cerebral refers to the cerebrum, which is the affected area of the brain (although the disorder most likely involves connections between the cortex and other parts of the brain such as the cerebellum), and palsy refers to disorder of movement. CP is caused by damage to the motor control centers of the developing brain and can occur during pregnancy (about 75 percent), during childbirth (about 5 percent) or after birth (about 15 percent) up to about age three.[4][5] Further research is needed on adults with CP as the current literature is highly focused on the pediatric patient.

Cerebral palsy describes a group of permanent disorders of the development of movement and posture, causing activity limitation, that are attributed to nonprogressive disturbances that occurred in the developing fetal or infant brain. The motor disorders of cerebral palsy are often accompanied by disturbances of sensation, perception, cognition, communication, and behaviour, by epilepsy, and by secondary musculoskeletal problems.[6]

There is no known cure for CP. Medical intervention is limited to the treatment and prevention of complications arising from CP's effects. A 2003 study put the economic cost for CP sufferers in the US at $921,000 per case, including lost income.[7]

In another study, the incidence in six countries surveyed was 2.12–2.45 per 1,000 live births,[8] indicating a slight rise in recent years. Improvements in neonatal nursing have helped reduce the number of babies who develop cerebral palsy, but the survival of babies with very low birth weights has increased, and these babies are more likely to have cerebral palsy



My story.. written at the age of 21... enjoy!
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Wheelchair is not Karla's but it would be cool to have.

 Friday, 06 June 2008 at 21:19
I think that it would be very interesting to propose a question to the general, "Non- disabled"
public. I would like to ask them how they would handle being confined to a wheelchair, and all of the limitations that work hand in hand with this confinement. What would be even more interesting, however, is the fact that they wouldn't have a clue how to go about answering my questions. This is my primary reason for writing this story. I want to inspire others and give them some insight into my life as a 21 year old disabled woman.

Growing up with a physical disability has taught me many things. It has not only taught me about life, but it has helped me further discover who I am as a person. I know that half of the human population assumes that having a physical disability, or any disability for that matter, is a burden. Truth be told, it can be a burden at times, but you get used to it and move on. You have to adapt and change your life so that your adaptations can work for you. That is exactly what I have had to do, and I would like to share my story with you.

When I was born, I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. I don't think the doctors were ever specific about the type of Cerebral Palsy that I have. Through some research of my own, I have discovered that I have Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy. For those of you not familiar with the term "Spastic Diplegia", it means that both my upper and lower extremities are affected. However, my lower extremities are much more affected than my upper.In other words, the problems that I have with my lower extremities, such as my legs, are of greater severity than the problems I have with my upper extremities, such as my arms. I have problems with both areas, but the problems I experience with my hands, wrists, and fingers are only minor.

Some would venture to say that I was a "miracle baby" because I had so many complications at birth, and I was actually so tiny that I could fit into the palm of someone's hand! Weighing 2 lbs 3 oz in (and dropping to 1 lb 8 oz) in the 80's when technology was not as nearly as advanced as it is now is a pretty amazing feat! With the help on many doctors, and one nurse in particular named Karla (That's where my name comes from) I'm alive and well today! So, I guess I am a bit of a miracle baby, wouldn't you say?

My early childhood is much like a faded memory. I don't have much recollection of it at all. I do remember living in Somerville, New Jersey and spending time in the snow, but that is about it. It wasn't until much later that I began to recognize my differences, anyway. I do remember moving back to Louisiana and looking into elementary schools. My mom first tired to enroll me in Shenandoah Elementary because it was close to the house and in our vicinity. They did not want to accept handicapped children, so my mom resorted to Magnolia Woods Elementary. I am so glad she did because I met some really amazing people. These are people that I am still in contact with today. Brittany Kriger and Stephanie Delacruz to name specifics. It was my first day at Magnolia Woods and I remember my teacher introducing me to Brittany because she was going to be my helper. Brittany was a great helper, even though most our time was spent giggling like little school girls over Scott Hannaman. I still remember this like it was yesterday. I still remember playing house underneath the trees. I remember everyone making me the baby because I was in the one in the wheelchair and the wheelchair resembled a stroller! Those are some memories that will remain in my mind forever.

Although much of my Elementary days seem bright and shiny, they were not always like that.
My first grade teacher was the most inconsiderate person I had ever met in my entire life, and it was in first grade, that I experienced my first real dose of discrimination. Mrs. Lynn Tucker was her name. I think she made it her lifetime goal to make me miserable. If that was her goal, she should get a handshake and some kind of plaque because she sure did an amazing job. The one thing that sticks out in my mind about her is the day that she wanted to declare my independence in front of my whole first grade class. She told me to wheel myself in my wheelchair, and at that time, I did not have the strength in my arms to do so. She still insisted that I wheel myself even though she knew that I didn't have the strength, much less the coordination. As a result of her boasting and sheer determination, I flipped out in the street and landed on my stomach. That was possibly the most embarrassing and hurtful thing that has ever happened to me in all of my 21 years. I also remember the way that she would go about getting me out of my chair. Instead of being gentle and actually picking me up, she would drag me by the arms. I remember the countless conferences that my parents had to endure because of her mal treatment. I would like to erase those memories from my mind, but no matter how hard I try to erase them, they seem to stick there like a post it note on a piece of paper.

As my elementary school years progressed, I could feel myself starting to feel better. During my 2nd grade year, there was a change in the atmosphere for me at Magnolia Woods. Two other children that were handicapped had enrolled to go to school here. Amber Deweese and Amy Vranic. I instantly bonded with them and now felt some sort of comfort when I was around them because they were just like me. I still remember the days when we would play on the recess court
singing "Rockin' Robin" and slapping each others hands. My favorite thing about Elementary school was Ice Cream day on Fridays. Amy, Amber, and I would usually all get the same flavor, the rainbow flavored one. I remember these days so well. I remember when Amy and I would spend most of our recess time lusting after Ryan Lefevre. A beautiful blonde haired, blue eyed guy that we only dreamed of having. I have to admit, I lusted over him for quite sometime and sometimes, I still find myself wondering how he is doing.

As I got older and moved on to middle school, I found myself attending Southeast Middle School. A rather run down, ransacked looking school with absolutely no windows. Surprisingly, it was not as bad as it seems. I had adjusted to being in middle school rather quickly. I think my quick adjustment was in part because of the aide that I had when I was in the 6th grade. She was a hilarious, quick witted black woman named Mrs. Carey. She would sit with me in class and help me take notes. Back then, my handwriting skills were not up to par and there was no way that I could keep up with the quick paced writing of the teachers. Mrs. Carey was such a humorous lady. She would sit with me in class and joke about not being able to solve some of the math problems that we were expected to solve in the 6th grade, which was pretty basic stuff. She made me laugh all of the time. A couple of times, I got reprimanded for laughing too loudly. She called me her "white child". I had a special place in her heart and I know she loved me to death. I really miss her.

Three years after my transition from Elementary to Middle school, I found myself in the supposed "real world". High School. Even though the middle school teachers tried to instill so much fear in us about high school, it really wasn't that different from Elementary or Middle. It just meant harder classes and more course work, as required by every upper level grade. Woodlawn High School. A 50 year old, ran down, asbestos growing, mildew smelling school. Interesting in many ways, but it was still my school. Woodlawn was not accessible at all, but I guess that wasn't really a big deal to anyone else considering I was the only one in a wheelchair that was attending at the time, or at least that's what it felt like to me. I still remember people referring to me as the "girl in the wheelchair" if they did not know my name. It was sort of an uncomfortable feeling, I must admit, but I got used to it. There were also a lot of familiar faces at Woodlawn because most of the people I had grown up with since my time at Magnolia Woods attended, and there was a great comfort in that. I ended up doing really well my 9th grade year of high school, achieving a 3.7 GPA to start out with. Through out my 9th and 10th grade year, things were going wonderfully. I was making good grades and found the classes to be fairly simple. Little did I know though, that in a year things were going to hit rock bottom. My 11th grade year was perhaps the most pivotal, life changing year of my life. I found myself sinking into a deep, deep depression. The classes were becoming increasingly difficult and were very rigorous.
I began to notice that I was different from everyone around me. I felt unattractive and some pretty hard things were going on at home. I needed an escape. I needed something to make me feel just a little bit better before I did something that would end up harming me or potentially taking my life away. I turned to music. Music is a great escape, it seems as if it takes away all of your pain.
I turned to Lifehouse. Lifehouse has helped me so many trying times. During this critical time in my life, I felt like they were speaking to me. They too, wanted to be "locked up where they felt sheltered and felt safe". (Lyrics from Track 7- "Simon" off of Lifehouse's debut album "No Name Face".) Lifehouse was my escape and even today they help me rid my mind of sticky and very uncomfortable situations. I was at a point where I was wondering why God made me so special and so different from anyone else. I was a point where I wanted to jump out of my wheelchair and tear down every wall, every aspect that was holding me back from leading a normal life. I guess you can say I was finally rebelling againist the pain that I had been experiencing all of my life from Cerebral Palsy. All of this pain, hurt ,and guilt was soon going to make a turn for the better in a matter of time. October 20, 2001 was the night of my Junior homecoming. I remember it so well and I remember the exact date because I met someone very special that night. I met Eric Iglesias. Eric is now my best friend and the most significant part of my life besides my parents. Eric was the first guy to ever take me anywhere or doing anything at all with me. Eric ended up taking me to both Junior and Senior prom Junior prom was the first night in my life that I had felt purely beautiful. Eric had taken away all of my pain, my hurt, and my fear of acceptance. When the lights were dimmed and all of the couples around us were slow dancing, Eric got down on his knees so that I could reach him. That is such a simple thing, yet it means so much. I don't think I will ever be able to describe my love and respect to him, even though I've tried so many times. He is a huge part of my life and the reason why I have become the person I have become, the reason why I have become so open and so happy. I owe it all to him and I don't know how I'll ever be able to re-pay him for all of the things he has done for me in my life.


After all of the proms were over and all of the course work was completed, I was finally graduating from high school. To sit back and think that I went through all of that pain and rigorous hard work just to get a piece of paper that is signed by my principal seemed ridiculous to me at the time, but now is when I realize that it was the key to the rest of your life and the primary entry way into college.

College, the world of REAL independence and self -determination. This is the point where my life rests now. When I began college, sure, I had cold feet, as does everyone. I started out at Baton Rouge Community College. At first, I thought this was a mistake, because I was assuming that community colleges were for stupid people. In reality, this is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Community college was able to get "my feet wet". It was able to prepare me for what's coming and what is expected. I transferred from Baton Rouge Community College to Southeastern Louisiana University with a 3.682 cumulative Grade Point Average. Needless to say, I was able to transfer over with no problems. Transferring to Southeastern has allowed me to experience a great sense of freedom. It has also allowed me to take the time and truly discover who I am and what I was put on this earth to do. Since moving, I have had to really adapt my life. I have realized that it's okay to kick the door open with your feet when your hands aren't free. I have realized that people are going to be curious and ask questions. The most rewarding part, however is discovering that I want to be a social worker in the future. I want to better people's lives just as I have done with my own. I want to teach people that it's OKAY to be different. As a matter of fact being different is a fact of life. No one is going to be the same. Everyone was created equally, yes, but everyone was also created to serve a unique purpose with their OWN voice. It's your VOICE that is going to speak for you. No one else can speak for you and no one can change you. In the event of trying to help someone, you have to help yourself first. You cannot help to change someone unless you have attempted to change yourself. The life I lead as a disabled woman has inspired me. It's inspired me to want to help others. I get a great sense of satisfaction out of helping people. It is my driven purpose. I am different and I accept that. I want to share my differences and my happiness with others in hopes that I will be able to change not only their minds and their ways of thinking about themselves, but their hearts. That's my goal. What's yours?

Submitted by: Karla 28.12.09

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