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Living with cerebral palsy brain injury - Can I still have an active lifestyle?
As specialist serious injury solicitors, we know the many ways that life can be altered after a brain injury, not just for the injured person but for their family too. It is important both for the individual and their family that they can get out of the house and enjoy active pursuits to keep physically healthy and for their mental health and emotional wellbeing. Whilst leisure activities, such as the opportunity to participate in sport, might seem out of reach for those with disabilities, we know that with the right support, the reality can be very different.
At Boyes Turner we are proud to support Cerebral Palsy (CP) Sport who have made it their mission to develop adapted sport to meet the needs of people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities who want to be more physically active. With sport for the disabled now more accessible than ever, a brain injury does not need to signal the end of all social, leisure and sporting activities, whatever the level of disability or the effect on co-ordination or cognitive function.
How does cerebral palsy affect my ability to participate in sport?
Cerebral palsy often causes issues with movement, muscle control, coordination and balance. This can make it more of a challenge to participate in certain sporting or leisure activities. However, we know that adaptive sports can help children and adults living with cerebral palsy participate and stay physically active, which in turn can have great health benefits.
What sporting activities are accessible to people with cerebral palsy?
We have clients who play football, who swim regularly and even some who horse-ride with assistance from speciality trained instructors. From athletics to table cricket, no sporting activity is out of reach.
Do I need specialist equipment?
That depends on the activity you want to do. If you struggle with mobility issues and want to ski, a sit-ski is the piece of equipment you will need. If you need support with your posture and mobility, then you might be able to partake in some sports using your normal wheelchair.
It’s not just sport that might mean you need specialist equipment. We have known clients purchase all terrain wheelchairs for children who live close to the sea so the family can access the beach together, an activity that otherwise would present too much of a challenge and prevent the brain-injured person from being able to play with friends and family or travel on the sand.
If you want to swim, many swimming pools have hoists and slings to allow the injured person to be safely lowered into the pool, where they can join their family and be supported in the water.
How will I pay for the equipment?
Where we are able to secure an interim payment, for clients whose cerebral palsy or brain injury was caused by negligence, funds can be used to purchase specialist equipment to help the disabled person access the leisure pursuit of their choice.
There are also a number of national charities that offer access to specialist sports and adapted equipment free of charge:
- Designability is a national assistive technology charity that has designed the “Wizzybug”, a powered wheelchair for children under five who are living with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy or other significant issues that limit their ability to walk. The company offers a loan scheme to those who wish to use this specialist powered wheelchair which can be used both indoors and outside on suitable terrain.
- Remap is another UK charity which offers modified and custom-built equipment to children and adults, to enable them to live more independent lives. The charity makes bespoke adaptations to equipment and has been involved in modifying a trike for a disabled teenager to allow a parent to travel on the back and assist in the control and steering of the vehicle. They have also worked on modifications to a wheelchair to allow wheelchair archery.
- For other activities like football, no specialist equipment is needed. Organisations like Cerebral Palsy (CP) Sport offer starter sessions in football and support for other sporting activities.
- Specialist equipment is being developed all the time. Welsh charity Cerebra, in partnership with University of Wales Trinity St David, recently collected the award for Innovation, Science and Technology at the annual Welsh Government St David Awards ceremony.
The team design and build innovative products to help disabled children access the world around them, and promote social inclusion and peer acceptance. The products they design are provided free of charge. In the past the team has designed equipment to help disabled individuals surf and complete in triathlons. Last year, the team helped a six-year old with cerebral palsy reach the summit of Wales’ highest mountain in a modified mountain bike. The sky really can be the limit!
I want to go swimming with my family – is that possible?
Yes it is.
We know it can be difficult to find family time between an extended school day and other therapy sessions and fatigue is a factor that needs to be considered, but our clients tell us that time as a family is not only vital to supporting the brain-injured person but can also help children with brain injuries with sibling relationships. Where family time is so important, swimming is a great activity that all the family can do together.
Swimming is a fantastic activity for a disabled individual, providing weightless movement in a warm and relaxing environment. Disabled people often need to swim in a warmer pool than their local swimming centre, but it can be possible to hire time at a pool within a specialist setting. If you need additional a support in the water, additional carers might be needed. They can help support the person in the water and help with changing.
Is skiing possible?
Ski holidays are more accessible than ever to people with cerebral palsy. Individuals can hire sit skis and specialist sledges to allow them to hit the slopes!
Ski2Freedom Foundation helps young people with physical and sensory needs and those with life-challenging illnesses access all types of snow sports and mountain activities.
Does sport count as therapy?
Yes, sporting activities can also be part of a therapy regime. Rebound therapy is commonly recommended for children who are severely disabled and have difficulty moving. Trampolining can become part of their regular therapy regime.
I am a young person with cerebral palsy - Can I go to music concerts?
Everyone loves a good music concert! Gig Buddies is a project in Sussex and some other limited areas of the country that offers a service that enables adults with a learning disability to attend live music concerts accompanied by a volunteer “buddy”.
What other sporting activities can I do?
Wheelchair basketball is a popular sport which has been enjoyed by some of our clients who have trained with Thames Valley Kings Wheelchair Basketball Club. The club offers a great sporting opportunity to people with physical disabilities, enabling them to improve their social skills and their confidence in a sporting environment. Basketball is a great sport to develop hand-eye coordination, fitness and stamina.
Boccia is an indoor target sport that featured in the 2016 Paralympic Games and is played all over the country.
We know that CP Sport are currently working to develop even more adapted sports, like Race Running, Frame football and Touch golf, so that more people can access sporting opportunities. The opportunities for disabled participation in sport are constantly increasing as even more sporting activities are added to the list of those accessible to disabled individuals.
At Boyes Turner we help clients who are living with cerebral palsy and other serious disability as a result of medical negligence claim their entitlement to compensation. Our aim is to help our injured clients and their families rebuild their lives, by restoring mobility and independence, providing care, support and a safe living environment, and providing access to therapies and specialist education.
If you or a family member have cerebral palsy or other serious disability caused by negligence and would like to find out more about making a claim, contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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