Category Archives: Education

Cerebral Palsy: A Look Back at 2013 Part 2

CPFN 2013 Year in Review

Welcome to our second installment of our “Year in Review.” In our first blog, we published samples of the research accomplishments that made the news in 2013, of progress made in the management of epilepsy, and stories of life changing advances in therapies and other interventions.

Today, we look back on the amazing breakthroughs of the year gone by in the fields of technology and prevention, as well as the progress we’ve seen in the quest for awareness. We’ll also share the stories of the inspirational people of 2013 who made the news with their stories of dreams realized and the courage to pursue those dreams!

Prevention

Last year was a very productive year for researchers in their pursuit of knowledge into what causes the injuries that result in cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities. We learned of a number of research initiatives being conducted involving the potential to prevent and reverse disabilities in children born prematurely. In that study, researchers reported for the first time that low blood and oxygen flow to the developing brain does not, as previously thought, cause an irreversible loss of brain cells, but rather disrupts the cells’ ability to fully mature. This discovery opens up new avenues for potential therapies to promote regeneration and repair of the premature brain.

More research news and funds are being directed to the pursuit of prevention than ever before. We found news of grant monies being allocated to improve outcomes for preterm infants who struggle to take first breaths and news of research initiatives regarding prevention and cure of brain injury leading to cerebral palsy among premature infants. There were also grant awarded to identify infants at greatest risk for developmental impairment.

The discoveries that made headlines in 2013 include studies that showed prenatal alcohol exposure impacts brain development and changes behavior and that elective early-term delivery increases complications for both baby and mother. If the past year is any indication, 2014 should be a year of unparalleled discoveries and breakthroughs in medicine’s quest for prevention as scientist and researchers continue to explore methods and practices to enhance birth outcomes.

Technology

Advances in technology for children with cerebral palsy made leaps and bounds last year. Here’s a small sample of some of the amazing and life-changing technology we discovered in the news last year. At the top of our list is the iPad. No other technology has had a more profound impact in the special education classroom, as is evident in this article we discovered titled How the iPad Can Turn Teaching “Special Ed” On Its Head. Children with limited communication skills or an inability to take class notes can now actively participate and have their voices heard for the first time through the iPad and variety of special apps that have hit the market.

Computer technology is changing lives and giving people new hope. No story speaks to these life-changing advances more than the breaking news of eye control for the computer becoming a reality. We’ve delighted in learning of multiple technological breakthroughs that not only give voices to people with severe speech impairments, but are also improving mobility options with devices such as a wheelchair controlled by a tongue piercing, which is said to perform “three times better” than current technology.

Stay tuned for the last installment of our “Year in Review” in Part 3. Read “Year in Review” Part 1.

 

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Cerebral Palsy: A Look Back at 2013 Part 1

CPFN 2013 Year in Review

With 2013 behind us, we reflect back on the year gone by and the medical, social and technological accomplishments it brought us. As parents of children with special needs, few of us have time to review the scores of media outlets in search of the latest therapies or medical and technology breakthroughs that made the news. We’ve made it a bit simpler by collecting a sample of newsworthy and sometimes life-changing medical discoveries and advancements of the past year, as well as notable stories of advocacy and awareness. This is Part 1 of a three part series.

Research Accomplishments (Therapies, Interventions, Prevention)

In 2013, the field of neurology continued to open new doors with groundbreaking and life-changing discoveries and interventions. These innovative medical breakthroughs are offering hope and an improved quality of life for many challenged with neurological disorders. Stem cell research and the first ever U.S. approved clinical trial of stem cell use for children with cerebral palsy make it to the top of our list of medical advances for 2013.

We’ve followed the steady progression of stem cell research and the promising future stem cell therapy may offer to individuals with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders. We read stories of a new way to grow neural stem cells to help brain injuries and disease and of the findings of stem cells helping patients after brain injury. The past year brought us the story of a Detroit boy the community is referring to as ‘A Living Miracle After Stem Cell Treatment for Cerebral Palsy’ and we closed the year with news of a first-of-its-kind clinical trial studying two forms of stem cell treatments for children with cerebral palsy (CP) that has recently begun at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School.

Another story of pioneering research introduced us to the field of neuromodulation. This new therapy consists of an array of implantable devices to allow patients who suffer chronic pain and disability to enjoy active lifestyles that once seemed unimaginable.

Epilepsy

The field of neurotechnology is introducing devices for the treatment and management of epilepsy. The most notable news of the past year may be the FDA approval of an implanted brain stimulator. This new therapy detects abnormal electrical activity in the brain and delivers stimulation intended to normalize brain activity before the patient experiences symptoms of seizure. Keck Medicine of USC became the world’s first medical center to implant a responsive brain device, which has the potential to help millions of people worldwide. In other news, there are new at-home testing devices to monitor epilepsy, drug levels, and reduce clinical visits.

Therapy

We followed multiple stories through the year of the many research programs aimed at improving the quality of life of individuals affected by cerebral palsy and other conditions. The NIH award of $2.4M to develop innovative robots to aid people with visual and physical impairment tops our list. We’re currently following news of three projects that have been awarded funding by the National Institutes of Health. One such research program is a Canadian study using children between the ages of 6-18 and robots to better understand sensory dysfunction in the developing brains of children with CP.

In the field of alternative therapy, a study using acupuncture made the news last year. In the article we reviewed, Acupuncture Eases Cerebral Palsy – New CT/MRI Research, researchers investigated a special approach to acupuncture treatment. CT (CAT scan) and MRI neuroimaging confirmed that acupuncture enhanced improvements in anatomical structures in the brain. The study concluded that these improvements were higher in the acupuncture group than in the control group receiving only the rehabilitative care, a promising outcome for patients with cerebral palsy.

Read more great cerebral palsy stories from 2013 in Part 2.

 

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Our Favorite CP Teachers Video Series

 

 

Did you nominate a teacher in last year’s “Our Favorite CP Teacher” contest? We were flooded with entries and received so many inspiring stories from your favorite teachers and therapists! We’ve compiled the photos into a series of short videos to showcase all of the nominees. View all of the videos in the series on our YouTube channel or visit our contest page to read the nominees’ stories.

 

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