By Steve Bond Today, October 6th, marks World Cerebral Palsy Day. And there are millions of reasons to celebrate the diversity, raise awareness and support those living with Cerebral Palsy. In fact there are 17 million reasons to recognize this day. Cerebral Palsy or CP is the most common physical disability in children. It is in fact an umbrella term for a group of conditions which affect the development of motor control and posture. It is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain and the symptoms can vary dramatically. For example, a person can have minimal symptoms such as weakness in one hand to an almost total lack of voluntary movement requiring around the clock care. CP does not become progressively worse over time, though the exact symptoms and complications can change over a person’s lifetime. For example, some children may gain enough motor skills to write or to get dressed. Others may get worse — the aging process can be harder on those with abnormal posture. Also, rigidity or spasticity of some muscles may impact other parts of the body (known as compensating structures) this can cause issues like dislocation of the hips or shoulder. It is critical to understand that although the individual cannot move a body part, like the arm, that the sensory nerves are still intact; they can feel cold, hot, or pain. Similarly, although they may not be able to speak, they are still able to communicate – it may just take a different approach to understand. CP does not necessarily affect intelligence, so a person with CP may have amazing ideas but is unable to show. There is no single or simple test for cerebral palsy. It takes time and multiple tests and observations to get an accurate diagnosis and to rule out other conditions. When diagnosing cerebral palsy, doctors look for spasms, abnormal muscle movements, delayed development, and poor coordination. Treatment for CP is multi-factoral including medications, surgery, various types of therapy. Early diagnosis and treatment will reduce deficits, improve quality of life and prevent further complications. There are millions of reasons to recognize World CP day. Maybe you know someone who is one. Take care of yourselves and each other.