Dream centres to reach out to children with cerebral palsy

For the first time in Sri Lanka, children affected by cerebral palsy will be able to access relief provided through therapy and education at a soon-to-be-opened Dream Centre. The Dream Centre is appropriately named for it offers hope for a more meaningful direction to the lives of children affected by cerebral palsy as well as to their parents.

Both such children and their parents have hitherto, not been able to reach out for treatment in a centralised place where the focus is on helping to integrate the child with the rest of the community through specialised treatment. The Dream Centres will be spread out in different parts of the country to enable easy access to those living outside the capital.

The Cerebral Palsy Lanka Foundation is a non- profit organization set up to assist persons affected by this condition as well as their family members. The directors of the foundation are Gopi Kitnasamy BSc MCSP(UK) MIMDTP(UK) Certified Paediatric Bobath therapist, Consultant Paediatrician Dr. Siromi Panditharatne, Jalia Uduwella, Senior Physiotherapist at Lady Ridgeway Hospital, Poorna De Silva, teacher at Stafford International and Ms. Dilani Gopi.

This foundation (CPLF) is the first organization in Sri Lanka set up to provide educational and therapeutic services for children with cerebral palsy and associated movement disorders. The aim is to make the children independent and confident, create a sense of self-esteem through therapy, coordinated with awareness building and training programmes for parents.

Cerebral Palsy can occur at different points in time. It can happen when the child is growing in the womb, during birth or shortly thereafter, and is caused by a disruption of nerve signals between the brain and the muscles, affecting movement, posture, and coordination. The disorientation can range from minor to severe depending on which parts of the brain are mal-functioning.

The incidence of children with cerebral palsy is a high as 12 – 15 per 1000 births in Sri Lanka while it is as low as 6 per 1000 births in the developed world. There are an estimated 40,000 children with Cerebral Palsy in Sri Lanka, a significantly large number to be left without therapeutic assistance.
Although Cerebral Palsy is not curable there are many specialized treatments available that provide therapy to make it possible for children to become active and participating members within their family and community given the limitations of their disability.

A few of the treatments that are offered by the Dream Centres include:

  • Bobath therapy or Neuro- Developmental therapy by which the child will be encouraged to move and function as normally as possible. It is believed that the child’s abnormal postures and movements can be changed or adapted to develop better functional skills.
  • Conductive Education is based on the theory that the brain can learn and relearn movements and control. This is a learning process and not a treatment or therapy.
  • Suit therapy – this is a special suit given to children with movement disorders that helps with the muscle tone, balance and the position of the body in space.
  • Sensory Integration therapy is occupational therapy designed to stimulate and challenge all the senses of the child. The therapist works with the children within the confines of a room and challenges the child to respond to certain methodology adopted in this treatment.
  • Hippo therapy- a Hippotheraphy machine will be used to encourage multi – dimensional movements to achieve gait training, balance, postural/core control, strengthening and a range of motion goals.
  • Whole Body Vibration therapy- increases bone mass and brings about improvements in muscle build up. This will help children who have poor muscle strength and control.

The Dream Centre was opened on October 6 at 7, Captain Kelum Rajapakse Mawatha, Wattala. The CP helpline number is: 0117226326.

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