Physical activity is extremely important for people of all ages, especially children. Sadly, many children with disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, have a lower participation rate in sports and recreational activities. This means that these special children are more likely to have lower fitness levels and high rates of obesity compared to children who do not have such conditions. Being involved in a physical activity not only improves fitness, but it promotes a feeling of inclusion and self-confidence, and it helps improve day-to-day functioning.
Miracle Recreation: Playgrounds For Kids With Disabilities
Miracle Recreation is one of the nation’s largest playground design companies. They create a wide variety of playgrounds, and they place a lot of emphasis on playgrounds for children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy. The playgrounds offer fun play environments that have numerous opportunities for inclusive play. The company employs a gymnast, surfer, occupational therapist, and astronaut to help inspire designs. Miracle Recreation also asks people who have or have been affected by cerebral palsy and similar conditions to help create the playgrounds. The goal is to build a destination that will bring all families and kids together for some outstanding recreational time.
Miracle Recreation makes playgrounds that are thrilling, challenging and exciting. One recently built park is 4,600 square feet, and it features the following:
- A 14 foot slide
- A Ten Spin that enables a wheelchair bound child to sit in a bucket seat while other kids stand and spin her around
- A Pull Along that allows children to crawl or slide under a horizontal ladder
- An Accelerator Swing for kids who use wheelchairs and walkers
Conner Long is one of the kids who helped to design a recently built playground. Even though Conner’s brother Cayden is unable to walk, the two compete together as a team in triathlons around the country.
“To do something that requires some movement, not just sitting in front of the TV and video games, that fosters that imagination and challenging play we all know kids need—it seems like Conner knows kids need that and wants that for his brother,” Kate Natoli, director of marketing for Miracle Recreation told reporters.
Activities For Children With Special Needs
With 5.2 million disabled children in the U.S., it is very important to have different types of fun activities for children with disabilities. We have written extensively about camps, sports resorts, horseback riding trails, baseball leagues, water sports, and different modes of bicycle riding for children with just about any disability, including cerebral palsy.
Miracle Recreation playgrounds are a great addition to the athletic and outdoor community for kids with disabilities. These activities help children become more confident, social and physically fit. Children involved in recreational activities are able to share and grow with other kids who have similar issues. Regardless of any setbacks, many children insist on making it to the games or parks to see their friends. In the Miracle League Baseball group, one little boy a seizure, but a week later was up to bat and laughing with his teammates, family, and friends.
Having a disability means children have to deal not only with being sick, but also with feeling different. Activities such as Miracle Recreation and Miracle League Baseball allow children with disabilities to play with other children and realize that they’re not so different after all.
Special Needs Recreational Resource Guide
Listed below are links to information about sports and activities throughout the country created for children with special needs and cerebral palsy.
- Miracle League Baseball
- Special camps
- Horseback riding trails
- Summer and winter sports resorts
- Downhill skiing
- Cycling for children with disabilities
- Activities with animals
What Is Cerebral Palsy and How Does It Affect Movement?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect muscle function, movement, balance, posture and coordination. CP is caused by an injury to the developing brain, which means a child can get cerebral palsy until about age 3. The muscles themselves are not the cause of the motor problems; the issue with cerebral palsy is how signals in the brain carry out instructions regarding muscle movement. Of course, if children with cerebral palsy don’t get the right kind of therapy, muscles can develop painful problems, and joint, tendon and bone abnormalities can occur.
Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of cerebral palsy, occurring in approximately 70-90% of all cases. Normally, muscles coordinate in pairs; when one group of muscles contract (tighten), the other group relaxes. This allows free movement. In spastic cerebral palsy, complications in signals from the brain to the nerves to the muscles occur there is no balance in muscle tension among different muscle groups. Muscles affected by spastic cerebral palsy become active together, which prevents coordinated movement. Thus, the muscles in children with spastic cerebral palsy are constantly stiff or spastic; they have stiff, jerky movements stemming from an abnormally high muscle tone, called hypertonia. Spastic quadriplegia involves both the arms and legs.
The main difference between spastic diplegia (spastic cerebral palsy that primarily affects the lower body) and a normal gait (body propulsion/movement) pattern is its signature “scissor gait.”
This is what is commonly seen in a scissor gait:
- Knees and thighs may cross or touch while walking
- Hips and pelvis are often locked, as if crouching while walking
- Ankles may be turned inwards while walking
- Feet often make contact with the ground primarily at the ball of the foot, not the heel (may look like “tip toe” walking)
- Arms and hands may go outwards from the body to provide balance
The degree of spasticity varies widely from child to child. Balance problems and/or stiffness in gait can range from barely noticeable to misalignments so pronounced that the child needs crutches or a cane to assist in being upright. Spasticity can be so severe that the child is relegated to a wheelchair. Above the hips, children with spastic diplegia typically have near-normal muscle tone and range of motion, though some spasticity may also affect the upper body. Additionally, because leg tightness often leads to instability when in an upright position, extra muscle tension usually develops in the upper body, shoulders and arms due to the upper body trying to compensate for the instability of the lower body.
Although it has its origins in a brain injury, spastic cerebral palsy can be thought of as a collection of bone and muscle issues because of how its symptoms manifest over the course of the child’s life. Spastic quadriplegia in particular, especially if combined with verbal challenges and eye problems, may be misinterpreted as alluding to intellectual or cognitive impairment. But this is false; the intelligence of a person with any type of spastic cerebral palsy is unaffected by the condition of the spasticity itself. An injury in the brain can cause spastic cerebral palsy without causing cognitive/intellectual problems. However, oftentimes a baby sustains a brain injury that causes damage to multiple areas of the brain, and the child can be left with spastic cerebral palsy as well as other conditions, such as intellectual disabilities and developmental delays. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (a lack of oxygen in the brain that causes brain injury) is a form of brain damage that can cause spastic cerebral palsy as well as other conditions in a baby, such as a seizure disorder.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
There are many conditions that can occur during or near the time of delivery that, if not properly managed, can cause cerebral palsy. Most often, these conditions involve a lack of oxygen in the baby’s brain. Mismanaged conditions that can deprive an unborn baby of oxygen include placental abruption, uterine rupture, umbilical cord prolapse, nuchal cord (cord wrapped around the baby’s neck), brain bleeds caused by forceps or vacuum extractors, and failure to recognize fetal distress on the fetal heart rate monitor. Improperly treated neonatal hypoglycemia or jaundice (abnormally high bilirubin), or in infection in the mother that travels to the baby at birth, can also cause cerebral palsy. When a baby is showing signs of distress, it means she is being deprived of oxygen and must be delivered very quickly. Most of the time, a cesarean (C-section) delivery is the fastest and safest way to deliver a baby who is in distress.
Reiter & Walsh: Advocates For Children With Special Needs For Over 25 Years
Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers is a national birth injury law firm that has been helping children for over two decades. Cerebral palsy lawyer Jesse Reiter, the president and co-founder of the firm, has been focusing solely on birth injury cases for 25 years. He is currently recognized as one of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report 2014, which also recognized ABC Law Centers as one of the best medical malpractice law firms in the nation. The lawyers at ABC Law Centers have won numerous awards for their advocacy of children and are members of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group (BTLG) and the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ).
If your child was diagnosed with a permanent disability, such as cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), intellectual disabilities or developmental delays, the award winning lawyers at ABC Law Centers can help. We have helped children throughout the country obtain compensation for lifelong treatment, therapy and a secure future, and we give personal attention to each child and family we represent. Our nationally recognized firm has numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success and no fees are ever paid to our firm until we win your case. Email or call Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers at 888-419-2229 for a free case evaluation.