Cerebral Palsy is a medical condition usually caused by damage to a part or parts of the brain before, during or after the birth of the child. The Cerebral Palsy Guide reveals that ‘Cerebral palsy (CP) is a blanket term for several disorders that affect normal, healthy movement. Over 10,000 children are diagnosed each year’. Some of the disorders are, the inability to sit independently at 6 months and beyond, walking difficulty, problem with the spine / scoliosis, difficult / slow motor, intellectual and speech development and even feeding problems.
Cerebral palsy is not widely known in Africa compared to the other forms of disorders. In Ghana, very few people know about cerebral palsy. Hannah Awadzi, a mother of a child with cerebral palsy reported on Modern Ghana that “coping with the Cerebral Palsy condition in Ghana is hell!”. The report further revealed a confession by one mother of a CP child. ‘When you have a child with CP, you tend to be disabled to enable your child live, your child restricts your movement, determines the kind of work you can do and yet taking care of these children is not possible if one is not earning an income.’
Names are words by which people or items are identified with. Names have great influence on lives . Interestingly,studies have confirmed this assertion. Therefore, parents are to carefully select names for their children. In the past, children with cerebral palsy were seen as ‘bad lucks, bad fortunes and kids from the spiritual world’ That is why they are given names like ‘Eda Vi’ literally meaning a snake’s child in Ewe. The reason for such names can be traced to the movement of the child.Thus they slither like how snakes do.It is quite shocking that these names are still used in Ghana today. Most shockingly, some of the children are killed. Hannah Awadzi report on Modern Ghana ‘…as a society we have resorted to killing these children?’
Children with CP are humans except that they have are to be given good names just like other children without special needs. They are not useless as they might appear to be. When trained and well cared for, they excel. Farida Bedwei, one of the well known and shrewd IT entrepreneurs in Ghana is a testimony to this fact. Moreover, we need to sit up as a country and formulate implementable policies for children with cerebral palsy, bearing in mind the need for structures that serve as a social support system for families dealing with such children.