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Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder caused by brain damage. It affects coordination and may impact intellect depending on the location of the damage. Regardless of the severity of the disorder, the most important issue for any person with cerebral palsy is keeping active. From the littlest baby to the elderly, everyone with CP can find something that he or she enjoys. Nearly all activities can be adapted into good cerebral palsy activities.
Babies with cerebral palsy can develop important skills through cerebral palsy activities disguised as play. Crawling to a toy just out of reach is a weight-bearing activity that helps build muscle tone. Rolling a small ball back and forth between the baby and another person helps a baby develop balance and stabilization; both impact the baby's ability to sit up by him- or herself. Another is playing the "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" game where the adult and baby sit on the floor, facing each other with their legs outstretched, holding hands. As they sing the song, they "row their boat," rocking forward and back while pulling and pushing with their arms.
Cerebral palsy activities for older children include playing with clay, finger painting, or drawing. These are all cerebral palsy activities that will stimulate the senses and help develop fine motor skills. Some children enjoy going to the park to use the swings. This develops balance and proprioceptive, body-in-space, skills. Therapeutic horseback riding is another activity that promotes balance.
Swimming is one of the favorite cerebral palsy activities. Swimming in a warm pool can help relax spastic muscle tone and also acts as a strength exercise for people with low muscle tone. For people confined to a wheelchair, the weightless effect of the water gives some measure of freedom and lightness not ordinarily experienced. Swimming is a fun, social activity that everyone in a family or group of friends can enjoy together.
Adults and teens with cerebral palsy can take part in yoga classes or work out at the gym. Others with cerebral palsy enjoy track and field, skiing, bowling, ice skating, or hiking. The level of adaptation and the amount of assistance an individual requires in order to take part in these cerebral palsy activities depends upon the severity of the CP and the activity itself. Adaptive equipment for popular sporting activities, such as modified skis or an aid to throw a bowling ball, are readily available.
Older children, teens, and adults may find volunteering in their communities very rewarding. Even those who have severe CP can volunteer to play games at a senior citizen center or help out at an after-school program. Girl Scouts, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, and 4-H clubs, while not strictly cerebral palsy activities, offer additional ways for a young person to take part in community projects. The activities a person with cerebral palsy can take part in is only limited by the imagination and willingness of the non-disabled to assist those who are.