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A bar chart shows the age bands and totals for people with cerebral palsy in our national registry.

Cerebral Palsy Registry Update

Headshot of Garey Noritz, M.D. Go to Gary Noritz’s profile

Dr. Noritz, a developmental pediatrician and internal medicine physician, will provide an overview of the current CPRN cerebral palsy registry.

Next Tuesday, March 29, at 8 pm ET, Garey Noritz, MD, the principal investigator of the Cerebral Palsy Research Network’s cerebral palsy registry, will present the latest findings from our registry for our next MyCP webinar. He is a developmental pediatrician and an internal medicine physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital who treats children and adults with CP. The presentation is open to the public and characterizes the patient population – children through adults – that are captured in our national registry. Attendees will learn how the CP Research Network registry collects data and how that data is used to accelerate research. He will also share what we have learned about the more than 5,200 patients enrolled in the registry.

The Cerebral Palsy Research Network was founded out of a need identified by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish a national registry for cerebral palsy (CP). Unlike countries with socialized medicine such as Australia or Sweden, surveillance of CP at a national level in the United States is exceedingly difficult and prohibitively expensive. The CP Research Network chose to build a “clinical” registry rather than a surveillance registry with the main difference being a focus on children and adults who were treated for CP rather than only whether they were born with CP. A clinical registry is an essential tool for planning research for CP, providing preliminary data to increase research funding success, and improving the treatments and outcomes for people with the condition.

MyCP webinar subscribers will automatically receive an email with the link to the webinar. If you are interested in joining this webinar or signing up for our series, register at: https://cprn.org/mycp-webinar-series/. If you cannot make the webinar, we will post a recording on our website and on our YouTube channel.

CP Stories: Alexander and Lisa Diller

A young man with cerebral palsy dressed in a scouting outfit and smiling hugs his mother in a black sweater and striped shirt.

Alexander Diller, a young man with CP from his premature birth, hugs his mother Lisa, during a scouting event.

Like so many others with cerebral palsy (CP), Alexander was born premature, at 27.5 weeks. While on an oscillating ventilator, the endotracheal tube scraped the back of his throat, triggering a bilateral pulmonary hemorrhage. In turn, the hemorrhage caused intraventricular bleeding, which resulted in hydrocephalus. It would be nine weeks before Alexander was discharged.

During his nine-week stay at the hospital, Alexander’s parents—Lisa and Tim—began their advocacy, working alongside a neonatologist to ensure that Alexander had regular skin-to-skin contact. While this practice is common today, it was rare twenty years ago. Because pediatric neurologists often prefer to wait before making the diagnosis, Alexander would be three before he was formally diagnosed with CP. But as a physical therapist with advanced neurologic training, Lisa suspected it from early on: the month Alexander arrived home, Lisa said, he “began to show signs of lower extremity spasticity and other movement patterns characteristic of spastic diplegia.”

Growing up, Alexander has faced the kind of ableist pushback that young people with CP and their parents have come to expect. As Lisa and Tim prepared him for kindergarten, they settled upon a private school that they thought was best equipped to meet his needs. The school initially expressed reservations about their ability to accommodate Alexander, but after Lisa, Tim, and Alexander’s preschool teacher, Pat, assured the school that Alexander’s needs were as simple as finding a chair that allowed his feet to touch the floor, he was accepted. Later, in high school, Alexander would compete in impromptu and extemporaneous speaking, only to be docked points for his “walking style.” Some judges even went as far as commenting that he should “fix it.”

Alexander has taken these challenges in stride: he was talkative and outgoing from an early age. He has maintained an active, fulfilling extracurricular life in high school, consistently qualifying for impromptu and extemporaneous speaking tournaments[1] at both the state and national levels despite insensitive comments from judges. But the transition into high school did present its own challenges. “We had an influx of new freshmen that I met for the first time,” Alexander said. “I also had new teachers. A lot of it was explaining my CP or answering their questions.”

There were, too, the stares and the speculation from students Alexander didn’t know personally. They wondered whether his CP implied an intellectual disability, something that folks with physical disabilities often must contend with. “Sometimes there were assumptions that because I had CP I wouldn’t be capable academically,” Alexander said. Working with a psychologist who also has CP guided Alexander through the transition. Hearing from someone who had faced similar challenges helped Alexander develop strategies to better understand his own feelings.

Adults with CP have served as valuable mentors for Alexander. During his time with Boy Scouts—he recently attained the rank of Eagle Scout with a silver palm in 2021—Alexander met Steve, a Scoutmaster who also happened to have CP. Alexander has relished the physical challenges that scouting entails. During the same summer he met Steve, Alexander successfully completed a 50-mile hike over a 12-day period with his troop at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmaron, New Mexico. Later that summer, he then completed a 50-mile bike ride in seven hours on the Olympic Peninsula.

Scouting aside, Alexander is also an avid Aikido enthusiast and will be testing for his first-degree blackbelt in March. Lisa and Tim made it a point to foster Alexander’s interests from an early age. Some of this was pragmatic: This passion has helped Alexander physically, particularly with his strength, balance, and coordination skills. But it has also helped him develop a strong sense of independence. “Aikido has allowed Alexander to practice with his peers and teach younger students,” said Lisa.

The parents of children with CP inevitably become experts as the child ages, but Lisa’s background in physical therapy has also informed her approach to Alexander’s CP. “I feel my educational background, connections to my peers, and access to current research has enabled me to make educated and informed decisions about Alexander’s care and advocate for him when needed,” said Lisa. “It has also enabled me to teach Alexander from an early age how to advocate for himself.”

As Alexander transitions into adulthood, his independence will undoubtedly prove useful. He recently turned eighteen, starting to cross “the unsteady bridge from pediatric to adult care,” as Lisa called it, that both researchers and advocates alike realize is a critical time. As an educator and provider of adult neurological interventions herself, Lisa has made it a point to stay informed about current research so that she can help guide Alexander during the transition.

Now that Alexander is eighteen, he has started taking the CPRN registry surveys with the hope of contributing to the improvement of treatment interventions for individuals with CP. He graduates from high school in June 2022, and either D.C. or the Northeast seem like the most likely landing spots for college. He will study international relations and global health, ideally with an emphasis on East Asia (he has been learning Mandarin since he was six). “I’d like to involve myself in diplomacy and create policy that’s based on the needs of a community,” said Alexander. What he ends up doing, of course, will be up to him. But it’s abundantly clear that Alexander’s future is bright.


[1]An impromptu speech tournament requires participants to prepare a speech on an unplanned topic in just a few minutes.

Dr. Kristie Bjornson in a bright green CPRN shirt and holding an orthotic.

CP Research Network Hires Scientific Director

Kristie Bjornson, PT, PhD. A smiling woman with blond hair, wearing a black vest over maroon turtleneck in a hospital hallway.

Kristie Bjornson, PT, PhD, MS, has been hired by the CP Research Network to be the Scientific Director.

The Cerebral Palsy Research Network hired Kristie Bjornson, PT, PhD, MS to lead its scientific direction. Dr. Bjornson, featured in our CP Stories in April 2021, is a leader in the field of research for cerebral palsy. In her new role, Dr. Bjornson will lead the network’s effort to pursue public funding from granting agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research. Dr. Bjornson brings multi-center clinical trial experience for various interventions for CP (i.e. surgery, injections, orthoses, and rehabilitation).

“I’m excited to merge my experience in clinical research in cerebral palsy with the power of the network,” said Dr. Bjornson. “There are so many important to questions to answer for our community and the network is a highly efficient way to conduct this research.”

In addition to her role as Scientific Director, Dr. Bjornson will continue as a site principal investigator for Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) where her first-hand experience with our registry will be invaluable to our future research endeavors as she has real world experience with how the registry can be used to make clinical research more effective. Under her leadership, SCH has become a significant contributor to the richness of data in the network’s cerebral palsy registry as SCH has enrolled its entire CP population. Understanding and leveraging the registry to plan new research studies is a great strength that Dr. Bjornson brings to the network.

CP Awareness Month Begins

CP Awareness Month Begins!

A young woman with cerebral palsy leans on a tree while hiking.

Come back every day to vote for YOUR favorite pictures.

Join the Cerebral Palsy (CP) Research Network in our activities to celebrate National CP Awareness month. This recognized month is a great opportunity for us to create awareness about living with CP for the general public to help fund research, support disability policies, and to promote inclusion. There is so much you can do to help the community:

  1. In February, we gathered photos for our CP Awareness photo contest. You can vote for the best picture in each of five categories on our website. We will be awarding a total of $1,000 in cash prizes to the winners on national CP Awareness Day – March 25! Go vote for your favorites – and share them on social media to get more votes.
  2. We have CP facts as Facebook banners that you can download and use to spread the word. We will be posting a CP fact every day on our Facebook and Instagram – feel free to share those!
  3. You can buy CP Research Network merchandise at our Bonfire store and wear green through the month! A portion of the proceeds is donated to our work!
  4. You can donate or start a Facebook fundraiser – our board with 2X match the donations you give or raise throughout the month of March!

Please help us in our efforts to spread awareness for cerebral palsy!

Dr. Rimmer, with rimless glasses, in a brown coat, white shirt and red tie with Dr. Peterson in a dark blazer and blue shirt.

Webinar on Wellness for Adults with CP

A white placed holder with 'wellness' written across it for the Webinar on Wellness for Adults with CP. The Cerebral Palsy Research Network will offer an informational webinar on wellness for adults with CP on February 23 at 5 pm ET. Earlier in February, we announced that we had partnered with the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) to offer a free eight-week virtual course on mindfulness, exercise and nutrition (MENTOR) for people with CP and other disabilities. The webinar will feature NCHPAD Director James Rimmer, PhD and University of Michigan CP researcher Mark Peterson, PhD, discussing the benefits of exercise, mindfulness and nutrition. Several past participants from our pilot of MENTOR in April 2021 will join the webinar to answer questions as well.

“We are excited to share the details of our MENTOR program with members of the CP community,” said Dr. Rimmer. “Past participants recruited by the CP Research Network have helped us shape our wellness program for the CP community.”

Community members interested in learning more about MENTOR can register for the webinar on the MyCP Webinar Series page. If you are interested and cannot attend, you can register to receive an email notification when the webinar is completed and the recording is posted. Please join us.

If you already know about MENTOR and want to sign up, join MyCP or visit your profile and select “sign up for MENTOR”. You will receive an email with an invitation to the program.

Three photos show a woman in a wheelchair lifting weights, a nutritious meal and a peaceful day the beach

Free Mindfulness, Exercise, and Nutrition Course

A cutting board and knife are laid out with healthy ingredients and a fry pan.

One of the core curriculum of MENTOR is nutrition which is of greater importance for people with cerebral palsy for their daily and long term health.

The Cerebral Palsy Research Network has partnered with the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) to provide free virtual training classes on mindfulness, exercise and nutrition (MENTOR). NCHPAD is funded through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control to promote opportunities that are crucial to the health of people with a physical disability. The CP Research Network piloted the MENTOR program in April 2021 to provide feedback on the program for people with cerebral palsy (CP). NCHPAD was recently funded for the next five years and chose the CP Research Network as their partner for the CP community.

The MENTOR program is held over eight weeks for one hour a day. Classes meet virtually and have instructors from different disciplines to teach mindfulness, nutritional health and adaptive exercise. Some exercise equipment is provided free of charge. The classes offer optional add-on private coaching to tailor the content for the individual participating. The next class for people with CP will begin in April.

An informational webinar is being planned for February 23 at 4 pm ET with NCHPAD chief executive Dr. James Rimmer and past participants from the CP community. Adults with CP that are interested in learning more should visit our Cerebral Palsy Fitness page or send an email to mentor@cprn.org. Go to our MyCP webinar series page to sign up for the informational webinar.

A woman in a chair lifting weights, a girl swimming in a triathalon, a college graduate seeking work and triples in a swing.

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Photo Contest

Young man with cerebral palsy sits in his red walker, while facing the ocean on the sandy beach.In advance of Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, which runs each year throughout the month of March, the Cerebral Palsy Research Network has launched a photo contest to highlight the lives and experiences of community members living with CP. The contest invites members of the community to submit up to five photos photos that depict their day-to-day life, adventures, challenges, joys, and journey. The CP Research Network has opened its gallery of submissions and will award $1,000 in cash prizes to five winners on March 25, 2022 – the day officially designated as National CP Awareness Day in the United States.

“We find that the CP community is underrepresented in so many forms of media today,” said Paul Gross, President and CEO of the CP Research Network. “As an example, stock photography agencies have very limited authentic photographs of the lived experience for people with CP.” The CP Awareness Photo Contest seeks to develop a rich set of authentic photos of people with CP that can be used in the CP Research Network’s growing cerebral palsy awareness campaigns for March and beyond!

The CP Awareness Photo Contest is opens today on CPRN.ORG. Contestants must be members of MyCP and may participate as an advocate, clinician, researcher or community member Prizes will be awarded as follows:

Category Prize
Creativity $100
Diversity $100
Participation and inclusion $100
Perseverance $100
Physical activity $100
Best Overall $500

Winners will be chosen via a combination of votes and final selection by the CP Research Network. Contestants must sign a photo release as part of the entry process. Photos will be displayed on CPRN.ORG and CP Research Network social media channels. Detailed rules for entries can be found on the photo contest rules page. Dig through your archives or snap a new picture and submit it soon!

Webinar: Intrathecal Baclofen Pump Complications

Robert Bollo, MD, with a shaved head and a smile, in a dark suit, white shirt and red striped tie

Dr. Robert Bollo will present on the CP Research Network’s efforts to reduce the most common complication with intrathecal baclofen pumps.

Our next MyCP webinar is Thursday, January 27, at 8 PM ET and will be about our efforts to improve outcomes for intrathecal baclofen pumps (ITB). ITB pumps are commonly used to treat spasticity in people with cerebral palsy. Our featured speaker will be Robert Bollo, MD, a pediatric neurosurgeon from the University of Utah. The webinar and open Q&A with Dr. Bollo will last one hour.

Dr. Bollo will present an overview of the use of ITB pumps in the management of spasticity and common post-surgical complications with ITB pumps. He is leading a quality improvement (QI) initiative (study to improve outcomes) in the CP Research Network to monitor the most common complication of baclofen pumps – post surgical infections. ITB pump infections are common but estimates of infection rates in the literature vary widely with an average of 10%[refs] of all implantations.

Interested participants need to register in advance. Members of the MyCP webinar series will be emailed a link for this webinar. It is free and open to the public. It will also be recorded for future viewing.


References

  1. Fjelstad AB, Hommelstad J, Sorteberg A. Infections related to intrathecal baclofen therapy in children and adults: frequency and risk factors. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2009 Nov;4(5):487-93. doi: 10.3171/2009.6.PEDS0921. PMID: 19877786.
  2. Tyack L, Copeland L, McCartney L, Waugh MC. Adverse events associated with paediatric intrathecal baclofen in Australia: 5 years of data collection. J Paediatr Child Health. 2021 Feb;57(2):258-262. doi: 10.1111/jpc.15194. Epub 2020 Sep 25. PMID: 32975337.
  3. Imerci A, Rogers KJ, Pargas C, Sees JP, Miller F. Identification of complications in paediatric cerebral palsy treated with intrathecal baclofen pump: a descriptive analysis of 15 years at one institution. J Child Orthop. 2019 Oct 1;13(5):529-535. doi: 10.1302/1863-2548.13.190112. PMID: 31695821; PMCID: PMC6808077.
  4. Desai VR, Raskin JS, Mohan A, Montojo J, Briceño V, Curry DJ, Lam S. A standardized protocol to reduce pediatric baclofen pump infections: a quality improvement initiative. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2018 Apr;21(4):395-400. doi: 10.3171/2017.10.PEDS17248. Epub 2018 Jan 26. PMID: 29372853.
  5. Desai VR, Raskin JS, Mohan A, Montojo J, Briceño V, Curry DJ, Lam S. A standardized protocol to reduce pediatric baclofen pump infections: a quality improvement initiative. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2018 Apr;21(4):395-400. doi: 10.3171/2017.10.PEDS17248. Epub 2018 Jan 26. PMID: 29372853.
  6. Spader HS, Bollo RJ, Bowers CA, Riva-Cambrin J. Risk factors for baclofen pump infection in children: a multivariate analysis. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2016 Jun;17(6):756-62. doi: 10.3171/2015.11.PEDS15421. Epub 2016 Feb 26. PMID: 26919315.
  7. Haranhalli N, Anand D, Wisoff JH, Harter DH, Weiner HL, Blate M, Roth J. Intrathecal baclofen therapy: complication avoidance and management. Childs Nerv Syst. 2011 Mar;27(3):421-7. doi: 10.1007/s00381-010-1277-9. Epub 2010 Sep 18. PMID: 20853002.
  8. Motta F, Antonello CE. Analysis of complications in 430 consecutive pediatric patients treated with intrathecal baclofen therapy: 14-year experience. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2014 Mar;13(3):301-6. doi: 10.3171/2013.11.PEDS13253. Epub 2014 Jan 3. Erratum in: J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2014 May;13(5):588. PMID: 24404968.
  9. Borowski A, Littleton AG, Borkhuu B, Presedo A, Shah S, Dabney KW, Lyons S, McMannus M, Miller F. Complications of intrathecal baclofen pump therapy in pediatric patients. J Pediatr Orthop. 2010 Jan-Feb;30(1):76-81. doi: 10.1097/BPO.0b013e3181c6b257. PMID: 20032747.
  10. Gooch JL, Oberg WA, Grams B, Ward LA, Walker ML. Complications of intrathecal baclofen pumps in children. Pediatr Neurosurg. 2003 Jul;39(1):1-6. doi: 10.1159/000070870. PMID: 12784068.
A headshot of Lily Collison with short, dark hair, the cover of Pure Grit and blond haired Kara Buckley

Pure Grit: An interview with the authors

Ila Eckhoff with tight curly brown hair smiles broadly with dark glasses and a light blue fleece over her v-neck shirt.

Ila Eckhoff, is a managing director at Blackrock Associates and is featured in Pure Grit.

The Cerebral Palsy Research Network will kick off its 2022 MyCP webinar series with an interview of the authors of Pure Grit, a book full of stories about remarkable people with physical disabilities doing extraordinary things.  The webinar is free and open to the public next Tuesday, January 11 at 8 pm ET. Ila Eckhoff, an accomplished financial services sector leader and one of the featured people in the book, will also join the conversation with authors Lily Collison and Kara Buckley.

The interview will include how the authors sought to develop the book, chose their subjects, and what they hoped the book would achieve. The one hour webinar will include 40 minutes of interview followed by open Q&A with the attendees.

Please join us for the interview.  If you are not already registered for the MyCP Webinar Series, you can sign up here.  A free Zoom account is required to sign into the webinar.  We look forward to seeing you there.  If you cannot make it, the interview will be recorded and posted on our YouTube channel within 24 hours.

Happy New Year 2022 from the CP Research Network with a black background and fireworks in the corners

Happy New Year from the CP Research Network

At the Cerebral Palsy Research Network, we have a lot to be thankful for.  You, our great extended cerebral palsy (CP) community, helped us achieve our fundraising goal of $10,000 this past month for our MyCP webinar series in 2022.  With our board of directors’ matching, we raised more than $30,000 for our network! We are excited to bring our MyCP webinar series back in full swing next week beginning with a live interview of the authors of Pure Grit (details to come out tomorrow).  Thank you to all who contributed and helped to spread the word!

2021 in Review

Last year was transformative in numerous ways for the CP Research Network.  We kicked off the year with the announcement of our merger with CP NOW. The combination of their educational and wellness programming with our efforts led to significant accomplishments including:

 

Our Research and Quality Improvement initiatives made significant progress in both seeking to answer key research questions about CP and improving the treatment of people with CP now.  A few highlights include:

What’s new for 2022?

We have a lot of projects that will culminate in 2022! These include multiple publications of our work in leading journals, partnerships to sustain and grow our wellbeing offerings, continued progress on our research and quality initiatives, and the return of our MyCP webinar series to name a few.

There are lots of ways to stay engaged with us.

Please consider one of these:

All the best to you and the entire CP community for 2022!