By Becky John
Retired AVM Femi Gbadebo, the Chief Executive Officer of BENOLA, a Cerebral Palsy Initiative, on Monday called for collaborative and committed efforts in the management of Cerebral Palsy (CP). Gbadebo, who is also the founder of the initiative, made the call in an interview with the News men on the sidelines of a workshop in Lagos. The workshop was organized by the initiative for families of people with Cerebral Palsy. A website www.cdc.gov, says “CP is a group of disorders that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.
“CP is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects a person’s ability to control his or her muscles. The specific cause of most cases of CP is unknown. “
According to Gbadebo, CP is real and it exists all over Nigeria, affecting all levels of society. As of today, the condition has no cure.
“It is the most expensive childhood disability to manage, and a lot of men tend to abandon an affected child which further complicates matters for mothers who already have little or no means of livelihood.
“ Most children with CP are either born premature or manifest the symptoms in early childhood.
“Misdiagnosis and unnecessary expenditure by parents can be avoided with early awareness.
“This calls for major improvements in antenatal services, maternal and early child care, particularly in the rural communities, if we are to avoid misdiagnosis and unnecessary expenditure by parents in their desperation for a miracle cure.
“ Most of all, communities, especially the rural ones, lack adequate support systems to sustain affected families,” he said.
Gbadebo said that the condition had resulted in stigmatisation and there was need for awareness to stop the stigmatisation.
“ The general lack of understanding of CP in Nigeria has led to stigmatisation and all kinds of family and marital problems for many, mostly in our rural communities.
“Our researches have shown that because it is not one of those medical conditions that people see every day, affected families out of fear of stigmatisation, often prefer not to talk about it.
“The general impression in Nigeria is that CP is an alien condition while in reality, it is widespread and affects all social strata.
“It is just that most people don’t know what it is or the proper name for it.
“The reality of the condition in Nigeria, the state of our medical facilities and the options available to families of children with CP are huge barriers to its appropriate management,” he said.
Gbadebo urged the relevant authorities at all levels to take responsibility for leadership and put in place necessary tools for effective management of the condition.
He also urged the Organised Private Sector and Civil Society Organisations to contribute toward the attainment of the noble objective.
Also speaking with news men , Mrs Nonye Nweke, the founder of Cerebral Palsy Centre, Lagos, said, “CP is often as a result of oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain during delivery.” According to her, the condition, which occurs around the time of birth, is often due to the brain being deprived of oxygen while its symptoms are not immediately visible at birth.
“Many of the signs and symptoms are not readily visible at birth, except in some severe cases. However, the most visible early sign of cerebral palsy is developmental delays.
“Normal children have standard developmental timelines, though each child’s own may differ.
“The principal effects of cerebral palsy is impairment of muscle tone, gross and fine motor functions, balance, control, coordination, reflexes and posture.
“There is also the oral motor dysfunction such as swallowing and feeding difficulties, speech impairment and poor facial muscle tone.
“Associative conditions such as seizures, sensory impairment and learning disabilities may also manifest frequently in people with CP,’’ Nweke said.