young woman tackles challenges of cerebral palsy head on

When it comes to cerebral palsy, most people have only a very cursory understanding of this rather serious medical condition. For instance, while most people know that it can result in muscle spasms and mobility issues, they may not know that it can also result in speech, hearing and even vision problems.

Furthermore, they might mistakenly believe that cerebral is a purely hereditary condition or seemingly random. The truth is that while experts have not yet identified all of its causes, it is commonly believed that medical negligence causing brain injuries in utero, during delivery or shortly after birth can result in its onset.

Lastly, another common mistake that people make concerning those diagnosed with cerebral palsy is that their condition somehow limits them from interacting with the world around them. As illustrated by a recent story out of an NFL training camp, this couldn’t be any further from the truth.

Last Tuesday, a 33-year-old woman with cerebral palsy — we’ll call her Shelley — made her annual pilgrimage with her family to the training camp of the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers to see the sights and, of course, visit with some of the players.

Shelley’s family, lifelong Panthers fans, have come to camp so often that they are on a first-name basis with several big-name personnel, including wide receiver Steve Smith and team owner Jerry Richardson. However, there was only one player Shelley wanted to finally meet at this year’s training camp: star quarterback Cam Newton.

Although cerebral palsy has deprived Shelley of the ability to speak and left her confined to a wheelchair, she was able to communicate her wish to her mother, who urged her to wave as hard as she could after practice.

Her efforts ultimately proved successful as Shelley was able to meet her favorite player face-to-face and even secure a signed pair of his practice-worn cleats. According to Newton, however, it wasn’t Shelley’s determined waving that caused him to stop and visit with her on the way to the locker room, but rather her smile.

If this isn’t inspiring enough, consider that Shelley graduated from high school in 1998 and earned an A on her senior thesis, presenting it to the panel of judges with the help of a computer system designed to transmit words and phrases.

This story should provide real comfort and inspiration to any parents who have received the devastating news that their child suffers from this condition. Nevertheless, if you believe that a physician’s negligence may be the cause of your child’s cerebral palsy, consider contacting an experienced legal professional to learn more about your rights and options for recovery.

Source: The Charlotte Observer, “A special gift from Carolina Panthers’ QB Cam Newton,” Jonathan Jones, July 30, 2013

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