Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month
Nathan is one of our volunteers and has been involved in the Youth Service for many years. Nathan is a great role model and valued member of our team! Here is is blog about living with Cerebral Palsy:
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a neurological health condition that affects 1 in 400 people within the UK. CP can affect people in different ways meaning you can not find two people affected in the same way, which is down to the severity of a brain injury/learning difficulty and the affected area(s) of the body. The affected areas can range from one limb, to all for limbs (an arm, one side of the body, one half of the body, or the whole body) including the torso causing problem with posture, balance and movement.
My type of CP and My Journey:
The type of CP I have is known as Spastic Quadriplegia which affects my whole body. Some of the symptoms can include, muscle tightness and stiffness, walking difficulties, seizures and speech impairments.
With my CP I have a moderate learning difficulty that can have an affect on how I learn things. My balance, coordination and movement are affected by high muscle tone which restricts my movement. Some of theses muscles are stronger than others throughout my body, due to the tightness and stiffness in some areas I find it difficult to bend or straighten my arms and legs.
With the help of physio, and family helping me to do things from a young age, I was able to improve and maintain my balance and becoming less dependent on things being done for me. As a result from my CP some tasks take me longer to do than others but by doing things my self in my own way I have became more and more independent. Some of the things I have always found difficult are bending down, picking up small objects, carrying different amounts of weight, walking up and down steps without hand rails, as this makes me feel like I would fall and activities that require hand-eye coordination.
I was around 5 years old when I able to walk without a frame, and could only manage walking short distances without falling over my own feet or tripping over. I was able to attend mainstream schools despite needing a little extra help with learning. I was also fortune to have regular physio sessions in school where I had to do a variety of exercises which has helped me improve my balance and coordination. Up until I was 12 I had multiple outpatient’s appointments to have casts made for my splints (AFOs) and hip twister brace’s, foot measurements and gate analysts. Having all the appointments didn’t bother me although they seemed a little frustrating as I was doing the same things repetitively.
Learning to ride a bike was one of the best things I did, as it improved my balanced and coordination, even though I had stabilisers until about age 9. In the late 90’s early 2000 I went to see a Dr about having an operation to straighten my legs and feet, which would make my walking easier and better. I felt very nervous about this and didn’t want it at first, but im glad I had it.
On the 21 May 2001, I had a short stay in hospital to have the operation. After 6 weeks of not being able to weight bare, I couldn’t wait to get back on my feet. Learning to walk again seemed strange at first, after a few months of slowly getting back on my feet I became less dependent on the wheelchair. After this I continued with my physio and hydrotherapy swimming which helped to keep me loose and mobile.
Soon after I found out about the NUH Youth Service and went to different sports clubs were I was able to get involved and socialise with others. By getting involved with these clubs I was able to socialise and compete with people with similar abilities, keep active and develop and learn skills. After being involved with these groups for several years I went on to volunteering and trained to be a sports coach, and give other people the opportunities I’ve had.