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If you were to search the Internet for recent news items concerning research to find a cure or treatment for debilitating medical conditions, you’d probably expect to find a significant amount of articles covering everything from cancer and AIDS to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
You’d probably also expect to find a relative dearth of material concerning cerebral palsy, an altogether devastating condition that is estimated to affect 8,000 to 10,000 children in the United States each year.
As it turns out, however, cerebral palsy treatment actually made major headlines just a few weeks back following the announcement that a new clinic was being opened at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute to provide comprehensive therapy to pediatric patients and perform cutting-edge research.
Specifically, officials gathered for a press conference back on August 15 to announce the opening of the Neuromotor Research Clinic, an establishment designed to give kids from around the world both rigorous treatment and hope for a new beginning.
“We do not accept the notion that damage to the brain is irreversible, or that treatment should only be for a select few,” said the executive director of the institute.
For those unfamiliar with cerebral palsy, it is a devastating condition that can cause a host of medical problems in children ranging from vision, hearing and speech problems to muscle spasms, muscle stiffness and mobility issues. It is widely believed that cerebral palsy can and often does result from a brain injury sustained in utero, during delivery or shortly after birth.
One of the more fascinating studies to be undertaken by the clinic will revolve around children diagnosed with cerebral palsy who are suffering from hemiparesis, a condition in which a person has weakness on one side of their body due to a brain injury suffered on the opposite side.
Courtesy of a sizeable grant from the National Institutes of Health, the researchers will outfit approximately 135 children between the ages of two and eight with casts on their stronger arms and legs in order to try to stimulate development on the weaker sides of their bodies.
“We are bilateral human beings, and the ability to stand and walk depends on both sides working well,” said one of the co-directors of the clinic.
It should be very interesting to see what results this study yields, and what other research the Neuromotor Research Clinic chooses to embark upon in the near future. Here’s hoping that it can someday provide those children suffering from cerebral palsy here in Pennsylvania and across the nation with the solutions they need and the hope they deserve.
The Roanoke Times, “Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute to study cerebral palsy,” Laurence Hammack, August 15, 2013