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Phone App Designed to Screen Newborns for Cerebral Palsy in Trial Phase

A new app developed in Australia aims to use body movement to assess babies at risk for cerebral palsy. The app is being tried on 250 premature babies born before 28 weeks or weighing less than 2.2 pounds.

Parents can upload a three-minute video to the app of their baby lying down, which is then analyzed by experts for “fluidity and complexity of movements.” The quality of movements provides professionals with insight into the baby’s central nervous system.

Using the app, experts may be able to diagnose cerebral palsy as early as six months of age—over a year earlier than traditionally diagnosed. Early intervention is crucial, researchers say, to rewire the brain. If intervention is delayed until the baby is one or two years old, the brain may already be wired in a way that is not ideal for fluid muscle function. “We want to get in early to encourage the brain and muscles to develop as well as they can, and to change their trajectory so they’ll have better functions,” said app developer Alicia Spittle.

New Device Aims to Assist Foot Control in People with Cerebral Palsy

Coordinating movement and posture can be difficult for those diagnosed with cerebral palsy—but researchers out of the University of Queensland’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences are developing a device to improve walking ability in young adults with cerebral palsy. “The ability to use the muscles which control ankle movement can be reduced by as much as 50 percent in people with cerebral palsy,” notes one of the researchers, Shari O’Brien. The device aims to improve foot control as well as quality of life in people with cerebral palsy so that they are able to walk confidentially without fear of tripping.

Research Confirms Exercise during Pregnancy is Beneficial for Mother and Baby

In early September 2017, a study carried out by Spanish researchers confirmed the benefits of physical activity for pregnant women, as well as the adoption of a healthy lifestyle. The experts stress the importance of combining aerobic and strength training for 45 to 65 minutes, three or four days a week while pregnant. The primary benefit of exercise is the prevention of excessive weight gain, which can lead to fetal macrosomia, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, caesarean section, lower back pain, pelvic pain and urinary incontinence. The study also suggests that exercise does not carry a risk for premature birth, low birth weight or fetal distress (as previously believed), provided the mother has consulted with her doctor about exercise prior to including it in her daily regimen.

Kentucky Goalkeeper with Cerebral Palsy tries out for US Paralympic Soccer Team

Carter Alvey, 17, was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects his muscle tone and motor skills. By the age of seven, Carter had undergone two surgeries to strengthen his spine and increase flexibility in his feet.  He sleeps in leg braces at night but doesn’t let the challenges he was born with keep him from the soccer field. Last year, Carter flew to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in California to join 15 other youth players in a trial for the men’s Paralympic soccer team. While he waits to hear back from the U.S. team coaches, the high school senior is working on his application to Clemson University, home to an intramural Paralympic soccer program that serves as an unofficial farm system for the national team. It remains unclear what that next level of play will be for Carter, but the Kentucky youth believes the sky’s the limit.

New York City Hospital Offers Adaptive Surfing for Patients with Cerebral Palsy

The Adaptive Sports Academy in NYC is offering a trip to Long Island for young patients with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy to try adaptive surfing, an activity known for its therapeutic benefits. Surfing reinforces therapy goals by helping patients to develop new skills and requiring them to use their bodies in a different way. The adaptive surfing program is free for participants and gives children an opportunity to achieve while socializing with individuals in similar situations.

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