How Sparks wants to change the lives of children with cerebral palsy

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Cerebral palsy affects around one in every 400 children in the UK. Although the exact cause is not always obvious, it can occur if the brain is damaged in early life or develops abnormally.

It’s a condition that affects muscle control and movement, and varies greatly depending on the type of cerebral palsy and how severe the condition is.. Many children have muscle spasms and weakness or difficulty learning to crawl, walk or talk. For some children, it’s a combination of them all.

About 15% of all cerebral palsy cases have dystonic cerebral palsy and this causes uncontrolled, involuntary muscle contractions. Children with this type of cerebral palsy often have whole body spasms and find their movements very difficult to control.

While there’s currently no cure, a team of Sparks-funded researchers in Bath, led by Dr Tim Adlam, are working on a project to improve the quality of life for children with dystonic cerebral palsy. They’re developing a seat that gently moves with young children aged between 3 and 5, especially during spasms. It’s hoped that the seat will allow children more freedom of their movements, allow them to strengthen their posture and therefore help them reach more developmental milestones.

Dr Tim Adlam says that one of the best outcomes would be that “children are able to learn how to control their bodies better than they can otherwise, that they’re able to problem-solve, and trouble-shoot their own disability”.

As well as improving a child’s physical condition, a seat like this could help children participate more in social activities, from helping them to communicate better to helping them be able to participate in playgroup and family activities.

You can find out more about this innovative research project from Dr Adlam himself, by watching this short video.

Sparks has awarded Dr Adlam and his team a grant of over £83,500 to carry out this research, that’s over £5,500 a month to support this important study. If you’d like to help us fund this project and others, make a donation today.

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