• 10/16/2023

    Doha, 15 October 2023: Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Qatar Rehabilitation Institute (QRI) celebrated World Cerebral Palsy (CP) Day with awareness activities aimed at reducing stigma and misconceptions about this neurological disorder. The aim is to recognize that living with cerebral palsy presents its own set of challenges, but many people with CP lead fulfilling and successful lives.

    Cerebral palsy, commonly known as CP, refers to a group of disorders that affect muscle movement, coordination, and posture. In many cases, vision, hearing, and sensation are also affected. CP is the most common of all childhood disabilities, affecting approximately three live births out of every thousand. The prevalence of CP is higher for children born preterm or at low birthweight. While the exact cause of CP is not known, the condition is triggered by abnormal development of the brain or damage to the developing brain. Several factors increase the risk of cerebral palsy, including maternal health, infant illness, and pregnancy and birth complications.

    Dr. Hanadi Al-Hamad, Deputy Chief of Long-Term Care, Rehabilitation and Geriatrics, as well as the Acting CEO and Medical Director of QRI, said that while there is currently no cure for cerebral palsy, treatments are available to individuals with the condition and their families: “With advancements in medical care, assistive technologies, and increased awareness, individuals with cerebral palsy can now access better support and opportunities. At QRI, our team is committed to providing practical support and evidence-based therapies, including physical, occupational, recreational, as well as speech and language therapy, to encourage the children with CP to develop and be as active and independent as possible as they journey into adulthood. Early intervention and ongoing medical treatment are essential to ensuring better life expectancy and experiences.”

    A highlight among the activities organized by the QRI team included an outing to KidZania in Doha for children with Cerebral Palsy, which was kindly sponsored by a Qatari humanitarian institution, Al Asmakh Charitable Foundation ( Afif - https://afif.qa/ ).

    Dr. Mahmoud Ibrahim Abeidah, Head of the Pediatrics Rehabilitation Department at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Qatar Rehabilitation Institute (QRI), says reframing how we view cerebral palsy is crucial to both ensuring those with the condition get the medical care they need and to reduce the stigma and misconceptions about this neurological disorder.

    Dr. Abeidah, said that historically, cerebral palsy was considered a pediatric condition, however, thanks to modern medicine and better healthcare standards, most children with this disorder now live into adulthood and many adults with cerebral palsy have a near-normal life expectancy: “Cerebral palsy affects each person differently, so no two families will have the same experience. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and the severity of those symptoms can change over time. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about cerebral palsy which can negatively affect how we view these important members of our community, such as that children with cerebral palsy have a limited future and will never live independently.”

    CP is the most common cause of motor disabilities in childhood, with symptoms usually appearing before age 3. While symptoms do vary, some of the common first symptoms parents may notice include delays in reaching developmental milestones, such as rolling over or crawling, variations in muscle tone, difficulty speaking, tremors, excessive drooling, and seizures.

    “Most children are born with CP, but they may not show signs of a disorder until months or a year later. Currently there are an estimated 1,000 or more children, young adults, and adults with CP being cared for across HMC’s network of hospitals. Each year we receive upwards of 60 to 80 new cases of children born with the condition,” said Dr. Abeidah.

    Dr. Abeidah explained that medications and surgery may also be necessary to help those with significant muscle pain and stiffness, or dislocated hips and scoliosis: “We urge any parent who is concerned their child may have CP to immediately speak with their primary healthcare physician. It is essential that a proper diagnosis is made, and that treatment is sought. Here at HMC, we adopt a family-centered model of care where family and caregivers are involved in every decision made about their child’s treatment. Our multidisciplinary team, which includes neonatologists and other physicians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, nurse, dietitians, and others, work together with families to help these children and young people integrate into the community.”

    Dr. Abeidah added that QRI’s care programs have been specifically designed to meet the individual needs of each patient, with services ranging from general rehabilitation clinics, a feeding and swallowing clinic, gait assessment clinic, student evaluation clinic, hypertonia/spasticity clinic, and the recently established seating and positioning clinic. He added that while most patients with CP are cared for in the outpatient setting, QRI does have a day rehab program where children and young people with CP can be enrolled at the hospital for a period of intensive rehabilitation.