THE Covid-19 pandemic has led to worldwide panic and while many who contracted the disease only developed mild illnesses or were even asymptomatic, others became seriously ill.
According to an article posted on cerebralpalsyguidance.com, the latter include those with certain underlying medical conditions such as cerebral palsy (CP), a disorder of movement and posture due to an insult or damage to the development of the brain.
The Ministry of Health’s MyHealth official portal describes CP as a static and non-progressive disorder, occurring in one or two out of every 2,000 babies born and is 10 times more frequent in prematurely born and low birth-weight babies.
“CP is caused by the insult or damage to the developing brain in-utero (when the baby is still in the womb), during labour or delivery or ex-utero (after the baby is born) and in children under age five.
“Most children with CP have an unknown cause – 10 to 15 per cent occurs because of insult/damage during birth as well as lack of blood circulation or supply to the brain before, during or after birth.
“Premature babies are at higher risk of developing CP and this might be due to immaturity of the vascular system and lack of sufficient oxygen to the developing brain.”
To help CP patients, a non-profit organisation – the Kuching and Samarahan Division Cerebral Palsy Association (Wishesland) – was formed on April 2, 2009, in Kuching by a group of parents and volunteers.
According to its president Chi Poh Yung, the organisation now has five full-time physiotherapists, a part-time speech therapist and a gardener.
As of March 31, Wishesland has a total of 123 members, of whom 58 are CP children.
Chi explained that cerebral palsy could take many forms.
“Some patients are so lightly affected that they show no obvious disability. Others may be clumsy in their gait or have difficulty with their hands or muscles involved in speech. Some can’t even stand and sit, and thus, can do little for themselves.”
Chi pointed out that during the Movement Control Order (MCO), Wishesland gave the health and welfare of CP children top priority.
Although the Wishesland centre at Jalan Crookshank was closed, the association still communicated constantly with the children’s parents, he said.
“Our staff keep in close touch with the parents to ensure they carry out physiotherapy for their children based on the programmes we recommend. To check whether they are doing it correctly, we encourage the parents to send WhatsApp photos and videos for our staff’s reference.”
Due to the long MCO period, Chi said if the bodies or bones of the CP children had gone ‘out of shape’, it would be very difficult to restore them to their original condition.
He stressed the health of CP children should be most important during the MCO and the need for parents to see to this could not be over-emphasised.
In providing care, parents should ensure there were enough necessities such as food, milk powder, diapers or wet wipes, he said, adding, “We also advise parents to constantly talk to their children and motivate them to do therapy besides encouraging the children to exercise by themselves whenever the parents are busy with housework.”
Chi advised parents to inform Wishesland staff of any irregularities concerning their children to enable immediate intervention.
“Daily checks on the children’s bodies, bones as well as sitting and standing postures should be made.”
According to Chi, Wishesland is planning to introduce the Neurofeedback Training programme, an advanced technology designed to help children and youths suffering from disabilities such as CP and autism.
Also in the pipeline is an arena for Boccia, a Paralympic sport with no Olympic equivalent and is similar to bowls and played on a surface the size of a badminton court.
A target ball sport which tests both muscle control and accuracy, Boccia was originally designed for people with severe cerebral palsy but is now enjoyed by players with a wide variety of disabilities.
“We’re also looking for Chinese physicians who are acupuncture experts to work with us by treating our children consistently,” Chi added.