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Paralympic Rower with Erb’s Palsy Sets World Record

Rower Grace Clough has Erb’s palsy, yet her physical limitations have not held her back from pursuing her goals. Clough and her team recently set a world record at the World Rowing Championship in Sarasota, Florida, crossing the finish line a full 23 seconds ahead of the competition. The victory was her third gold at World Championships and Paralympic Games. A 26-year old master’s degree student at Oxford, Clough only took up rowing four years ago at an event promoting disability sports. But she remains steadfast: “We’ve set the standard but we know the rest of the world will move on, so a lot more hard work will go back into this boat,” Clough said.

New Computer Algorithm Detects Seizures in Newborns

After a clinical trial testing 500 babies, tech companies are increasingly interested in a new computer program designed to detect seizures in newborns. The study, Algorithm for Neonatal Seizure Recognition, uses a first-of-its-kind algorithm to monitor infants’ electrical brain activity. Carried out by Prof. Geraldine Boylan, director of the INFANT Centre in Ireland and professor of neonatal physiology at University College Cork, the two-year trial studied the brain waves of babies at high risk for seizure after a difficult birth or suffering hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a brain injury that occurs due to a lack of blood and oxygen.

Prof. Boylan noted that seizures are difficult to detect in babies since they often do not exhibit any visible signs. The algorithm’s constant cot-side monitoring, however, picks up seizure activity as it is occurring, allowing for “limitless opportunities to support our work in the area of neonatal research, monitoring and neuroprotection for babies,” Prof. Boylan said. Preliminary findings were presented at the Brain Monitoring and Neuroprotection in the Newborn conference in Killarney in early October 2017.

2017 Cerebral Palsy Research Strategic Plan Unveiled

In the recently-announced 2017 Strategic Plan for Cerebral Palsy Research, guidelines were established that will help lead cerebral palsy research for the next 5-10 years. The plan highlights the need for an increased understanding of the development of the condition as well as the need for better patient registries and database resources. Also prioritized in the plan are several research initiatives geared towards finding new therapeutic and preventative strategies. Other entities including the Cerebral Palsy Research Network and the CP Now Foundation are collaborating on the effort as well. “We hope to continue to engage with our partners as we work together to make meaningful progress in cerebral palsy research,” the directors behind the strategic plan noted.

“One-Armed Cartwheel Challenge” to Raise Awareness of Birth Injuries

A Pennsylvania mom whose 4-year old son, Jaxon, sustained a brachial plexus injury at birth and has limited use of his right arm has issued a one-armed cartwheel challenge to raise awareness of his injury. Brachial plexus palsy can be sustained during delivery if the baby’s shoulder gets stuck in the birth canal. Due to the injury, Jaxon has had to undergo a number of surgeries and physical therapy sessions.  Jaxon and his mother are enthusiastic about the #OneArmedCartwheelChallenge, which supported Brachial Plexus Palsy Awareness Week, October 15-21.

Researchers to Study Earlier Delivery of Large Babies

A study dubbed the “Big Baby Trial” is being carried out by academics in the UK to discover if delivering large babies before full term will minimize complications that can occur during birth. One such complication that can occur during delivery is “turtling,” an event where the mother has difficulty delivering her baby’s shoulders after the head has come out.  Also known as a shoulder dystocia, this can be extremely traumatic and painful for both mother and child, and may lead to conditions such as Erb’s Palsy. The study, which will be conducted over a three and a half year period, will include a two-year recruitment of 4,000 women whose pregnancies are deemed large for gestational age.  Those leading the trial hope that the results could help prevent or at least minimize the number of families affected by Erb’s Palsy.

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