What is it like to have Cerebral Palsy (CP)?
I have been asked that in the past on numerous occasions of course, but I answered tersely that it was difficult to describe it. I have given this question a lot of thought over the years as to the best description that I could possibly offer. I believe I am better versed to provide an answer.
I cannot speak for others as CP affects everyone differently. CP is very varied in that CP manifests itself by varying degrees of physical impairment.
“However, the type of movement dysfunction, the location and number of limbs involved, as well as the extent of impairment, will vary from one individual to another. It can affect arms, legs, and even the face; it can affect one limb, several, or all.
Cerebral Palsy affects muscles and a person’s ability to control them. Muscles can contract too much, too little, or all at the same time. Limbs can be stiff and forced into painful, awkward positions. Fluctuating muscle contractions can make limbs tremble, shake, or writhe.
Balance, posture, and coordination can also be affected by Cerebral Palsy. Tasks such as walking, sitting, or tying shoes may be difficult for some, while others might have difficulty grasping objects.
Other complications, such as intellectual impairment, seizures, and vision or hearing impairment also commonly accompany Cerebral Palsy.
Every case of cerebral palsy is unique to the individual. One person may have total paralysis and require constant care, while another with partial paralysis might have slight movement tremors but require little assistance. This is due in part by the type of injury and the timing of the injury to the developing brain.”1
I have a mild case of spastic diplegia cerebral palsy which mainly affects my legs (Although, I sometimes get the shakes in my hands with I am under a lot of stress or try to do fine motor skills for long periods of time). This type of CP manifests itself as tight muscles and spastic pain. Imaging a clenched fist hold it as tight as you can for a few minutes and you will discover what the muscles in my leg experience most of the time. Now, if we were to carry this analogy to its extreme, i.e., a clenched fist for even a longer time, such that the muscles in your hand became sore and tired to exhaustion, then you would experience the tiredness that most people with CP experience. Likewise, if you were to workout your muscles at the gym such that they became overexerted to the point where the muscles began to twitch, then you would have an inkling of the muscle spasms that can suddenly occur. These are the best examples that I can provide that would allow someone without CP; to experience what it is like, for most people with CP daily.
My case, as I have said, is mild. Some days are better or worst than others. It all depends on the circumstances.
Some days are busier than others. The work load, or activities, throughout the day can either be: greater or lesser. I find if it is greater, then the CP affects are worst; likewise, if the day is slower, then the affects of CP are, generally, less (Although, this is not always the case).
—Robert Confiant 2 April 2017
1. Mychal at CerebralPalsy.org Definition of Cerebral Palsy – What is CP? http://www.cerebralpalsy.org/about-cerebral-palsy