Cerebral Palsy - An insight from us!

Updated: Jan 19, 2020

Hi! My name is Cam, the point of this project is to educate people on the nature of Cerebral Palsy, well at least my version. It is for those who have it and for those who seek to know more. Full disclaimer from the start, I do swear, I like swearing, I like to express myself just as I feel I should, but Gemma will *bleep out the 'naughty' words where necessary!

At this point, I wish to make it clear that this is my experience after 25 years. I still have much to learn and I hope that if this project continues I can share with you more as I grow. So if you read this and then I contradict myself later down the line, don’t loose your sh**! Growth is constant.

Born almost 26 years ago with my Umbilical Cord wrapped around my neck and a still heart I was left with brain damage. Due to a lack of oxygen this caused Cerebral Palsy.

For me, Cerebral Palsy comes with Spastic Diplegia (yes this article will include some medical jargon!), which causes a constant contraction of my hamstrings. As a baby; my hands and fingers would be stiff, as well as my neck, but this is much better now. My legs are still stiff and I spend most of my days in a wheelchair.

But it’s amazing how something so minor can cause so many issues for the mind body and spirit. I hope to touch more on these areas in time.

Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella term, no two people are the same.

A lack of oxygen does not discriminate or target any specific area. However, no matter the area effected, for muscles and joints, stiffness is a constant. Because of this, mobility is impaired and the affected areas cannot function freely. For others, the disorder can affect organs, speech, arms, legs. An important thing to remember for those who are learning about this disorder is that muscles can be felt, pain can be part of the condition due to stiff/restricted movement patterns and skeletal deformities. Intellectual capacity is often intact.

Along with my tight lower limbs, I contracted Septicaemia (infection in the bloodstream).

At the time of my diagnosis, my parents were told that I was deaf, blind and mentally deficient. This was largely to do with the fact that there was a gold thermometer on the wall that got my full attention at the time, so I just didn't want to listen to the Nurse (apparently this woman was a tw**). I also had a tight neck so it seemed as though I lacked awareness.

Good news was - none of the above predictions come true. YAYYY!!!

So that's a little introduction to me and as weeks go on I will give you more of an insight into the journey of my life so far. I hope with you enjoy reading my blog!

I'd like to introduce to you my Mentor Gemma, who I've worked with for just over a year now and together we wanted to create this, to connect and help as many other people as possible!

Hello! You've met me before if you've read my Introductory blog post, but incase you haven't...

Hi! My name’s Gemma, I am a Soft Tissue Therapist and Movement Specialist based at The Commando Temple (CT) in Deptford, London.

I was first introduced to Cam through the owner of CT who had been working with Cam to increase his strength and mobility and noted that in order to help Cam in his mission to stand, his Hamstrings may need some work and suggested he tried Soft Tissue Release.

I had seen Cam in passing in CT many times to say hello and was always so impressed, not only by what he was able to do and the incredible strength he had, but by his utter determination to grow and just be better than he was yesterday!

Our journey working together sure has been interesting. For a number of reasons:

I quickly realised that my usual techniques just weren’t going to touch the surface on having an impact on Cam’s leg functioning.

Cam’s condition is due to the neural patterning and the spasticity of the muscles would not respond as quickly as most to deep tissue massage techniques. There was a greater response to methods such as Muscle Energy Technique (which utilises the neural system) and Soft Tissue Release, which is a manual lengthening of tissue.

When treating Cam, we quickly realised had an up-regulated dermal (skin) sensitivity, meaning that his response to touch and any pulling on the hairs which is to be expected in any massage, caused him a significant amount of discomfort and pain, meaning he was unable to relax.

For Cam to consciously relax his muscles, it takes a significant amount of concentration and time, so all my methods needed to be very slow and I needed to communicate thoroughly to Cam during the process to encourage him to relax. For Cam to better ease into these movements he needed to know exactly what’s going on so he can reason with the information and allow his body to relax in to it.

After a few sessions, Cam’s response to treatment improved, but not enough for my liking.

So from then on I worked to incorporate movement and exercises into his treatment, more so than the hands on treatment. Working with MET (Muscle Energy Technique) and STR (Soft Tissue Release) where required, in order to create some stretch and length in the muscles (mainly the hamstrings and the hip flexors), followed by movements to encourage a stretch of the legs, followed by static holds in positions to encourage the standing position.

One of the most amazing things I can say about Cam, is his mindset. His attitude. His humour. His willingness to try anything, if it means there’s a chance he will make physical improvements. His trust in me and the other professionals that he surrounds himself with. His consistency and dedication to the health of his body and mind is truly admirable.

I committed to help Cam on his journey of wanting to walk because in such a short time he proved to me that he was committed!

So many people in this world, especially in our culture are reliant on ‘quick fixes’ and take all sorts of pills and potions to solve all their issues and illnesses. But! This is not how to make long term improvements to your health.

Raising your awareness and education to your needs and understanding that being more conscious to your behaviours and daily actions will lead to long-term wellness. Cam has dedicated a lot of time to educating himself and investing in professionals who can also help to guide him to make more informed choices on how to stretch, exercise and look after his mental health in order to reach his goals.

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