New Delhi: Seeking to draw attention to a disorder that affects lakhs of people in India, a national association of specialist doctors will observe October 3 as Cerebral Palsy Day.
The first such observation will focus to highlight the fact that service availability for people afflicted with the disorder is highly uneven and a lot has to be done in the social sphere to help patients lead a normal life.
According to figures compiled by the Hyderabad-based Indian Academy of Cerebral Palsy, there are an estimated over 25 lakh children and people with Cerebral Palsy in India.
The incidence of Cerebral Palsy is up to 3 cases per 1000 live births, it says.
Cerebral Palsy is basically a developmental difference that occurs due to interference in brain development, and causes difficulty in movement, speech and sometimes learning of the children.
This occurs either in the womb, or during birth, or even after two years of birth during which rapid development of the brain takes place.
The disorder might not be curable, but the quality of life of those afflicted can be improved through effective intervention, specialists say.
"This is a community initiative to raise awareness about the disorder, and is also intended to draw in some social initiatives to help the parents and caretakers of such people," said Dr G Shashikala, General Secretary, IACP.
"We want to remove the misperception that cerebral palsy is a disease. It is only a developmental difference... and with appropriate and timely help and assisting devises many can lead a near normal life," she said.
She said service availability for people with cerebral palsy was uneven in the country and one of the objectives of the awareness drive is to increase access to services.
Specialists in the field also say that paucity of trained professionals is also a major gap in the available infrastructure that needs to be bridged.
"Several interventions are available to improve quality of life of persons and their families with the developmental disability but lack of awareness hinders them from seeking access," said Dr Ashok N Johari, President IACP.
He said incidence of the disability has increased in spite of improved health care, and proactive social initiatives were now needed to help such persons and their families.
Doctors say if intervention is made in time, such children can study in normal schools and can pursue careers like any other children.
"The observation of National Cerebral palsy Day will help us in spreading awareness about this relatively lesser known but highly prevalent disorder," said Johari.
Cerebral palsy is one the commonest cause of childhood disability in India.