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What It Feels Like to Have Mild Cerebral Palsy

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If someone asked me what it feels like to have mild cerebral palsy, this is how I would explain it. It is having some muscles that don’t work properly. Some are weak, and some are too tight. I occasionally have spasticity flare ups in my legs, and it is harder for me to do certain things. I also get tired more quickly.

Cerebral palsy is something I was born with. It’s not a “disease;” my brain was damaged when I was really young, and now some of my muscles don’t work properly. I was in physical therapy for several years, and currently I am not doing physical therapy because I became strong enough to be discharged.

I sometimes feel bad about my cerebral palsy, because other people can do things more
easily than I can. I sometimes wish I could “magically” get rid of my cerebral palsy so I could touch my toes when stretching my legs while sitting. Sometimes other people don’t understand that I have cerebral palsy, and they think I can do it if I just “try harder.” Unfortunately I cannot magically make my legs straighten out on their own when stretching.

When I was a child, I toe walked. I had to have braces, and a cast to try to help. I still have short heel cords today, but I don’t toe walk except for when I am going up stairs. When I wore braces, they felt uncomfortable and when I kneeled down they would pinch me in the back of my legs (ouch). Today I am brace free (yay!)

Sometimes I have what I call “spasticity flare ups” in my legs. My legs start cramping and they feel super tight; this is very uncomfortable for me. The spasticity flare up can be short or very long. If I am in a car and I have a spasticity flare up, my legs will often not stop cramping until I am out of the car. When I get out of the car, I get relief.

I am very thankful for the physical therapists I have had in my life. They pushed me and encouraged me. Yes it was hard work, and yes sometimes it was frustrating, but I am stronger today because of the physical therapists who worked with me. I may struggle with learning things, I may not be as strong as other people, and I may not be able to be flexible, but I will push to be the best I can be even though I have cerebral palsy. My muscles just work differently, and every goal I achieve is wonderful.

Today I have learned how to do many different moves in a sport called equestrian vaulting, which I do on a barrel. I have competed in equestrian vaulting; even if I didn’t get first place, I still treasure the 10th place ribbon I earned. Cerebral palsy doesn’t stop me.

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Originally published: April 5, 2017
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