One child every is born with cerebral palsy (CP) every 15 hours in Australia. A lifelong condition, cerebral palsy requires intense intervention which, of course, costs money. A lot of money.
The average cost to support a child with cerebral palsy is half the annual Australian salary, which puts a huge strain on the families impacted by the diagnosis – families like those of NSW Central Coast one-year-old, Joey, who were told that all indications showed Joey was at a high risk of developing moderate to severe cerebral palsy following his traumatic birth.
But the power of early intervention thanks to the dedicated team at The Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) has changed the course of tJoey’s life. With an intense schedule of therapies, little Joey’s cerebral palsy will likely be mild.
What is cerebral palsy?
As described by the CPA, “Cerebral palsy is a physical disability that affects movement and posture. It is a permanent life-long condition, but generally does not worsen over time.
“It is due to damage to the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Cerebral means ‘of the brain’ and palsy refers to ‘a lack of muscle control’. It’s an umbrella term that refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move.
“It affects body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. People who have cerebral palsy may also have visual, learning, hearing, speech, epilepsy and intellectual impairments.
There are around 34,000 people living with cerebral palsy in Australia – that’s 1 in 500 babies diagnosed with CP.”
Danielle Galla is little Joey’s mum, and for her, the CPA’s dedication to her family has been a lifechanger.
“Joey suffered a hypoxic brain injury at birth, basically he was deprived of oxygen,” she explains. “We were initially rushed to the special care nursery at our local hospital, before being emergency transferred to John Hunter where Joey spent two weeks in the NICU.”
For Daniella and her partner, Matthew Cooper that difficult time was made more bearable thanks to the dedicated medical team at John Hunter, and the introduction to the CPA.
“Joey was born in mid-July and by the time we were home with him in August the CPA had sent a physio to us, and she has been with us ever since,” says Daniella. “I can not thank her enough for her time and patience, she’s been so supportive of our family and has guided us beautifully through this time.”
The CPA uses funds raised through their annual Steptember initiative to provide the services and support programs that are not covered by the National Disability Insurance Scheme to ease the pressure on families.