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Technology making strides in Cerebral Palsy treatment

Every year in the United States nearly 10,000 infants are born with cerebral palsy. As you may know the title cerebral palsy is used to describe a variety of conditions that create physical disabilities generally caused by damage to the motor control centers of the brain during childbirth or pregnancy. Causes of cerebral palsy can include a lack of oxygen to the unborn baby, premature birth, or infection.

Individuals with cerebral palsy can have a range of motor skill problems and many use a wheelchair or walker for mobility because they are unable to walk unassisted. But a new therapeutic device seems to hold out hope to help individuals with cerebral palsy develop the ability to walk on their own.

CBS news yesterday published an article about a device known as the lokomat. The device works like a robot assisting the patient's limbs and teaching them the necessary movements to walk on their own. The mechanical legs are strapped on to the patient's legs and help the muscles learn the rhythm and movements required to walk.

The 13-year-old girl profiled in the story was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after birth and was unable to walk on her own. The child spent six weeks with daily therapy sessions on the lokomat. She is not yet able to walk completely independently but is on her way.

There are currently only six of the devices available in the nation, and the treatment is expensive. But assistance may be available in some cases. This 13-year-old was fortunate to have the entire cost of her therapy paid for by the Shriners.

Source: CBS News New York "HealthWatch: Cerebral Palsy" July 6, 2011

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