6 Things I Wish Medical Professionals Understood About Cerebral Palsy


During my life, I have had to see numerous medical personnel due to being sick or for check-ups. Unfortunately, doctors and nurses often do not understand how to properly communicate and care for someone with cerebral palsy. In an emergency situation, not knowing what to do can quickly turn into a life-or-death situation.

Here are some suggestions that I believe will help if you’re giving someone with cerebral palsy a check-up, mammogram or any medical attention.

1. Don’t assume you know everything. You don’t know if the person has an intellectual challenge or a genius IQ. Don’t talk to them like they are a child, or talk loudly as if they were deaf. They deserve the same respect as anyone else you help.

2. Talk to them. A person with cerebral palsy might have a personal care attendant, friend or family member with them, but you should direct questions or directions to the person you’re caring for. It’s very impolite to go in and talk to everyone else but the patient.

3. Understand that not all people who have cerebral palsy are the same. How cerebral palsy affects someone varies from person to person. Some people might be stiff, while others might have involuntary movements. Some can walk and some can’t. Ask them how cerebral palsy affects them, rather than guessing or making assumptions.

4. Please don’t say “sit still” to someone who has cerebral palsy. For someone with involuntary movements or muscle spasms, sitting still can be extremely difficult and not a choice. The more you ask someone to sit still, the more the body reacts by moving. Instead, explain what you need to do and try to work together to make it work. Ask if they have ideas on positioning to help make it more comfortable.

5. Listen to the patient, even if they have a speech impediment.  Many people who have cerebral palsy have difficulty speaking. It doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re saying, or can’t comprehend your words. It means you need to listen and be patient so you understand what they need, think and feel.

6. People with cerebral palsy can have children, work, marriages, and live full lives. Cerebral palsy doesn’t affect childbirth or the reproductive system. People with cerebral palsy are just people with a body that responds differently in motion. Plain and simple.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Cerebral Palsy

Three covers featuring people with disabilites

Matthew Medrano Talks About Body Image and Cerebral Palsy

For Matthew Medrano – a filmmaker, writer, and actor living in Los Angeles – having cerebral palsy makes sculpting a “beach body” a bit of a challenge. “I do not have a ‘beach body’ in any sense of the word,” the 23-year-old said. “A beach body seems to be someone with a flat stomach. Abs [...]
A yellow cake with vanilla frosting that is encrusted in rainbow sprinkles. The cake was shot against a pale gray backdrop.

How My Husband's Cerebral Palsy Is Like the Sprinkles on My Favorite Cake

Dear cerebral palsy, If my marriage was a cake, you would be the brightly colored, impossible to miss sprinkles covering the outer edge. You’re there, boldly covering the surface area of what me and my husband and family are. At first, I didn’t think much of you. You were part of my childhood, there adorning [...]
Dryer.

Why I Don't Like This Word as a Person With a Disability

Do you have one word you wish people would stop using to describe your life? Is there a word or a phrase that really gets under your skin? For me that word is “normal.” Every single person in this world is different and unique in their own way. That is what makes the human race [...]
Bill and Mandy.

5 Ways to Love Someone With Cerebral Palsy

Many people in my life question my relationship with my boyfriend Bill. Why did I decide to stick with him when life together has so many WTF moments? Why don’t I chose to leave the world of disability behind and join Tinder or something in search of a soulmate closer to my abilities? Bill and [...]