2021 Year in Review: It Wasn’t ALL Bad

In the News

Car from driver POV looking into mirror to see flame-filled area behind

There’s no denying that 2021 was, in many ways, a bit of a year to forget. Maybe even more than a bit. But just as the worst events brought us to our feet in anger or to our knees in despair, there were bright rays of hope breaking through the clouds. For us, these bright moments were often found right here in the CPFN family, sharing our CP Heroes, birthdays, and graduations. More moments were found in the news stories we shared with the family on social media. From across the globe we gathered the news of breakthroughs, research, and technology relevant to cerebral palsy. We’ve put together some of the most popular stories here for you to enjoy once again, or to discover for the first time.

Funding

It’s always encouraging to read news of government funding that can positively impact the lives of children with cerebral palsy, and news of an National Institutes of Health award of $5.59 million in research grants to prevent and treat cerebral palsy made the top of the list for welcoming news!

Inclusion

With the celebration of the 31st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, disability inclusion was a feature of discussion throughout the year. Though much progress has been made in removing many barriers, the struggle is far from over.

The headline of a 30 year old making history in her country as Israel’s first doctor with cerebral palsy, showed us that progress is being made at a global level. Read Dr. Oliel’s story of focus and resilience in pursuit of her life’s goal. The future looks bright with advocates such as her breaking down the walls of misperception.

Achievements

We delighted in stories, from across the globe, of individuals with special needs, who have proven to the world that talent has no boundaries. Just ask 10 year old Ferdinand Maumo, a Nigerian child with cerebral palsy who has become a chess superstar in his country. When Ferdinand walked inside the chess club in the slum of Makoko, his peers started making fun of him. They were quickly silenced when, within minutes of being taught the basic movement of pieces, he was able to solve complex geometrical exercises on the board.

Accessibility

While much of the world remains inaccessible to the mobility challenged, progress is being made. We welcomed news of an innovative system being created which will allow powered wheelchair users to travel in their own wheelchair on an airplane. The Air 4 All system is aiming to “revolutionize” accessible air travel and create a new standard for disabled air travel, allowing wheelchair users equal access to the same safe, comfortable and dignified air travel experience as every other passenger.

Research

In medical research news we welcomed the possibly a world-first study that will help us understand more about cerebral palsy and how it affects muscle growth. How and why the musculoskeletal system degenerates for children with CP remains poorly understood. Researchers hope this study will provide more knowledge of this process, further influencing existing treatments and the development of new ones.

In a medical first, researchers harnessed the brain waves of a paralyzed man unable to speak—and turned what he intended to say into sentences on a computer screen. This study marks an important step toward one day restoring more natural communication for people who are non-verbal or speech challenged.

Many individuals with cerebral palsy face the need for surgical interventions to treat severe movement disorders, seizures and epilepsy. Researchers give new hope with the development of a noninvasive way to treat neurological diseases, without the need for conventional brain surgery. If successfully translated to the operating room, this approach could revolutionize the treatment of some of the most challenging and complex neurological diseases.

There continues to be exciting developments in the field of orthopedics and orthotics. One product is the first lower-extremity device designed to assist motion or provide support using soft muscle-like “smart materials” that contract in response to electric current.

Tech

Late last year a 3D printed orthosis capable of counteracting the negative effects of hypertonia in children with cerebral palsy has won a national James Dyson Award. ”The orthosis is designed to overcome the many limitations of traditional orthoses regarding the level of customization and material properties, with a specific focus on addressing spasticity in the upper limb of children with cerebral palsy.”

The first-of-its-kind OrCam Read is changing lives by enabling people who are blind or visually impaired to read text, recognize faces, identify products—and much more.

Tobii is bringing its eye-tracking tech to the iPad with TD Pilot, a case meant to turn Apple’s tablet into a powerful all-in-one tool for people with physical impairments.


We want to thank each and every one of our CPFN members for sharing your stories, heroes, birthdays, graduates, and more with us. Every milestone and accomplishment are cause for celebration and we are grateful to have been a part of it. Additionally, we commend our families for their resilience in dealing with what this last year brought. Here’s to a fabulous 2022!

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