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Pushing Children with Cerebral Palsy Too Far Can Result In Serious Accidents With Disabling Injuries

Choosing a school for a child can be a difficult task for any parent; especially if the child suffers from a disability. Children with cerebral palsy require special attention and care and their parents often try to pick a reputable school that is known for its ability to meet the needs of disabled children.

Whenever an accident occurs at a school or medical facility, an investigation needs to be conducted on what caused the incident and any other factors that are important to understanding why things went awry. How the child is treated can make all the difference in his or her well-being.

Overview of Cerebral Palsy

In order to understand the dangers of pushing a child with cerebral palsy too far, one must first be aware of the impact that the condition has on the body. Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect the brain and nervous system.  The disorder can be broken down into several subcategories but the symptoms are similar for all of the varying types of cerebral palsy.

People with this disorder usually have problems with their muscles which are either stiff and lack mobility or stretch and contort due to abnormal moments that cannot be controlled. In addition to impairing motor function, cerebral palsy weakens the bones— making children with the disability more prone to severe injuries.

A Concerned Parent

UCP Delrey School in Halethorpe is a small private facility that is attended by children with Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities. The school receives federal grant money under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. A recent event has raised concern with the parent of a child who was injured during one of the school’s extra-curricular activities due to suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident.

Justin Virts, the seven year old student at UCP Delrey, was rushed to the hospital after his wheelchair fell over during a race at the school’s field day. His mother, Jeannie Virts, was called to Saint Agnes Hospital shortly after the incident and was shocked by the condition of her son. His face was scraped up from hitting the pavement and he had a broken nose and a missing tooth.

Virts was unable to get the full story behind the incident from staff members of the school. When she arrived at the hospital, Juanita Teed, the school nurse, was with Justin in the ambulance. Jeannie asked what happened and the nurse grudgingly informed her that Justin had been injured during a wheelchair race. Juanita was pushing his chair during the race and Justin’s wheelchair tipped over, causing him to fall face first into the pavement. Juanita tripped as well and fell on top of him.

Virts told reporters that she had to fight to get Justin into Delrey. The school had a good reputation and for the first three years, Virts did not have any problems. However, she noticed that in the past several months there had been a series of injuries that her son did not want to talk to her about. When she finally got Justin to talk, he told her that the teacher told him not to tell. Failing to inform a parent that his or her child has been injured is a form of negligence that needs to be addressed— which was why Jeannie chose to file a police report.

An Alternative to Physical Activities

Bob Lujano, a recreation specialist with the Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, Alabama has offered a suggestion to the school’s physical education program that would be safe and engaging for children with disabilities. According to Lujano, children with disabilities should be able to join in on physical activity only at their own pace. One way to allow children with disabilities to compete with able bodied children would be by allowing a child who pushes his or her wheelchair to compete against an able bodied child who would hop to the finish line.

Safety and reliability is a major concern for parents sending their disabled children to school. Children with cerebral palsy require extra care and attention to avoid accidents and injuries. While not all accidents can be avoided, it is important for parents to be informed of them when they occur. Physical activity is important and learning safe alternatives for activity can provide a safe and fun way to get children with disabilities involved.


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