If you need a reminder of the incredible work that many community members engage in on a daily basis, you need look no further than medical research striving to improve the lives of injured children. For example, one of the leading areas of medical research these days is aimed at children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is actually a term for a range of injuries affected the brain and development. Most children with CP have some physical manifestations of the injury while other also have cognitive challenges.
There is no “cure” for cerebral palsy, but experts continue to hone in on better therapy and other treatments to minimize some of the adverse consequences.
Recently, news has come in quickly about many different on-going research projects aimed at different aspects of the ailment. Upon reading about these projects, it is easy to get the feeling that we are on the cusp of some truly groundbreaking discoveries and advances in the area which may greatly improve the lives of children with cerebral palsy and their families.
For example, this week, Medical Express reported on new research aimed at improving speech for these children. The project is just underway, so we should not expect specific results for several months or even years.
As explained in the story, the head researcher on the project is hoping to improve the communication skills of children with CP. The first stage of the research involves analysis of the current speech patterns of these children. The analysis will allow creation of a template to understand the forces which are leading to current difficulties. This is essentially a diagnostic phase–understanding what the problem is so that fixes can be developed later.
More specifically, researchers are trying to determine if the problem is rooted in muscular problems or in cognitive problems. It could be that the muscles which control speech are improperly developed, causing speech abnormalities. Identifying exactly which muscles are not working correctly is the critical first step. Alternatively (or additionally), the issue may be rooted in the brain’s difficulty processing and storing the correct information.
Possible fixes can only be had once the specifics of the problem are nailed down. The research may, for example, allow creation of specialized tools–like voice synthesisers–to account for problems and correct the speech.
The lead researcher summarized the problem as follows: “”Many children with CP have difficulties with speech melody, rhythm and stress. These difficulties, generally referred to as prosodic difficulties, can affect the intelligibility of a child’s speech, and are therefore of great clinical importance.”
Cerebral Palsy Independence
This research project, and many others like it, are all aimed at helping those with cerebral palsy lead more independent lives. As many local families know, the consequences of the condition can be far reaching, with sufferers requiring around the clock care to get by each day. Improving one’s speech can go a long way to allowing the individual much more freedom, and lessening their dependence on others. Few skills are more important than communication, and those with cerebral palsy deserve to have no stone left unturned when it comes to allowing them the ability to interact with others in as efficient a way as possible.
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