Cerebral Palsy and Sports

Not too long ago, if a person with disabilities like an individual with Cerebral Palsy is involved in sports, he is probably the manager or assistant of the athletes. There is actually a wall that prohibits people with Cerebral palsy from competing. Commonly, we all believed that these individuals should be treated carefully, considered as fragile and prone to injury. However medical practitioners state that strength training could possibly improve the person’s capabilities. They considered that probably athletic participation and physical involvement of person with CP athetosis, type of CP characterized by lack of controlled movement, can help improve their condition.

The importance of physical activity is recognized to maintain the health of CP patients. It may be limited depending on the severity of CP case but still it is important to their development.

In 1992, a survey was completed by 36 elite athletes who competed in the 1992 Paralympics held in Barcelona, Spain. The survey discussed questions about training, injuries, motivation, negative and positive factor that usually affects the participation of the athlete and success in the competition. The answers of the top athletes clarify the obstacles that they faced and they emphasize that they are just like other athletes without disabilities.

According to the survey athletes with Cerebral Palsy are trained and they compete like athletes without impairments. It is not only about winning the competition, it is also about meeting new people, seeing new places, experiencing the satisfaction of achieving their goal.

Commonly, sports started during Physical Education classes and a lot of CP patients according to the survey, started their sports life through PE classes. The encouragement that they received from their teachers pushed their will to be one of the professional athletes.

Meet Ken Johnson with athetoid cerebral Palsy. According to him, at first people around him said that a person with disability doesn’t have a room in competitive sports, gladly he proved them wrong. Ken is a 29 years old native from Chicago and a current champion of Boccia in his division. Boccia is an indoor Italian game of lawn bowling. This sport requires skill to be able to place the ball in precise position to be able to eliminate competitors. He spent five years to master it and he ranked first in his class.  He competed during the 1991 World Cup in Portugal, the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics, the 1993 World Cup in Belgium and the 1994 World Cup in England and currently a member of the US team for Paralympics. Currently he is studying computer programming in Harold Washington Community College.

Indeed, disabilities should not hinder us in achieving our goal.

Family members play an important role. Successful athletes are supported by parents and siblings. Continuous encouragement to be involved in sport will increase interest. Support them as they undergo training, they may experience minor injuries such as bruises, sore muscles and sprains but it is okay, it is normal for someone who wanted achieve something.

There are instances that athletes will develop chronic problem such as tendonitis. It is due to heavy training and serious competitions. Problems with shoulder are a typical concern. That is why it is important to get the guidance of the doctor. Regular check up should be conducted to ensure the safety of the person with Cerebral Palsy.

Though it is a challenge for them to keep up their life with sports, but the satisfaction cannot be traded to anything else. A person with disability value achievement, it is very important for them, it boosts their morale and their sense of belongingness to the society.

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