Trapped in a Body that refuses to Obey - Cerebral Palsy
Prachi looked at me from the corner of her eye and smiled as I entered the classroom. All other children were distracted too. One child got up and limped towards me, stretching his trembling hand towards me. I held his hand tight and guided him to his seat.
“Sit and do your work” I said giving him a soft pat on his head and then walked away towards the seat where Prachi was seated.
Prachi moved her stiff muscles, holding the pencil box under one arm while she struggled to extract the pencil with her tightly stretched fingers. Repeatedly she tried grasping the pencil to slide it out from plastic clasp of the box. Her movements were jerky and abrupt, it appeared to be uncontrolled and without purpose. Her body moved and suddenly she fell off the seat, with her legs in scissor-like position and her hands stiff, up in the air. Her classmates startled, all rushed and stood around her as she lay stiff on the floor, staring at children around her.
“Move back, go back to your seats” I said while I held her under her arms, lifted her heavy body and helped her sit on her seat again.
“You okay? Be careful” I said as I removed the pencil from her box and placed it between her fingers.
Being careful is not easy for Prachi, especially if she lives in a body that refuses to obey her.
Ten-year old Prachi suffers from Cerebral palsy, a condition caused by abnormal development of brain and nervous system due to which there is stiffness in the muscles and constriction of motor activity. She has problems with posture, balance, walking, speech, swallowing and other functional coordination.
“When Prachi was born, she did not cry” says her mother, Anita Chavan, “there was not enough oxygen to reach her brain as the result her brain was damaged.”
All her milestones were delayed; she could not control her head, roll over or sit without support. Over the years, she has shown little progress but she needs help in most of her activities.