Cerebral palsy awareness and activities at the Waisman Center

Waisman Communications

From the research lab to the patient’s bedside, research and clinical care focused on cerebral palsy (CP) encompass the essence of the Waisman Center’s mission: scientists and clinicians using an interdisciplinary approach to improve the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities. These two academic pathways will converge on March 1 for the first Waisman Center Day With the Experts: Cerebral Palsy. March is cerebral palsy awareness month and this community outreach event includes presentations from Waisman Center clinicians and scientists as well as a presentation from Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, MD, Chief of the Developmental Disabilities Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a panel discussion featuring children, parents and grandparents affected by CP.

“This is the first event of its kind related to cerebral palsy in the Madison area and it’s meeting a need we’ve been hearing about from families for a long time. We’re excited for the opportunity to share the latest CP research and clinical advancements from the Waisman Center with the community,” says Maria Stanley, MD, medical director of the Waisman Center Clinics.
and is the most common cause of severe motor disability in children with one in 385 children in Wisconsin identified as having the condition. The effect of CP on functional abilities varies greatly in each individual from the ability to walk to the degree of intellectual function.

“Information and resources for families of children with CP are limited,” says Sandy Tierney, parent of a daughter with cerebral palsy and Board President of Gio’s Garden, a respite and resource center in Madison. “This can cause us to feel isolated. This event, dedicated to our unique children, brings the information and experts to us in one place.”

The Waisman Center Clinics, in partnership with UW Health and American Family Children’s Hospital, provide comprehensive clinical care and support for children with disabilities and their families. An interdisciplinary team of professionals work together to address the complex needs of children up to 21 years of age with CP. In addition to the dedicated CP Clinic, patients also receive specialized treatment in the Waisman Center’s Spasticity and Movement Disorders Clinic and the Augmentative Communication Aids & Systems Clinic where speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists partner with families to provide highly specialized, cutting-edge communication options for individuals with CP who experience communication challenges.

The Waisman Center has two current research studies focused on CP. Katherine C. Hustad, PhD, leads a long-term study on communication development in children with CP. Now in its eighth year, this study characterizes changes in speech and language abilities in children with CP from early childhood through middle school. The results of this research will lead to clinical communication therapies to improve the quality of life for children and adults living with cerebral palsy.

Maureen Durkin, PhD, DrPH, MPH collaborates with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on an investigation into the prevalence of CP, autism, and other developmental disabilities among children in Wisconsin. The program, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is part of a nationwide effort to monitor the number of children with CP over time and provides information on the characteristics of children with CP and can be used to monitor trends, identify health disparities, learn more about the causes of CP, and help communities support individuals with CP.

For more information visit the Waisman Center Day with the Experts website.