Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Our Sponsorship Letter...

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and learn more about the fundraising efforts for our daughter, Alaina Joy. We were very thankful when Alaina turned four years old in April. This was a miracle, considering she was born 16 weeks early and weighed just over 1 ½ pounds! She overcame many obstacles during her four-month stay at the DeVos Children’s Hospital. At 15 months old, Alaina was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, specifically Spastic Diplegia, which causes muscles in the hips and legs to tighten. Because of this, Alaina has a hard time walking, sitting and doing many other normal four year old activities.

Recently, we were introduced to the Conductive Learning Center (CLC), which was established to help children like Alaina. Since she began attending the CLC, Alaina’s self confidence has improved, as well as her stamina and strength. She is now able to pull herself to her feet and sit for longer durations. Alaina is in a classroom setting for five hours a day, five days a week. In this environment, she is motivated by both the therapists and other children just like her. The CLC shares our goal, which is to help Alaina become as independent as possible.

In addition to conductive education, there is a procedure called PERCs (selective percutaneous myofascial lengthening). It is an outpatient surgery that lengthens tight muscles. This would greatly increase Alaina’s mobility potential by allowing her muscles to be stretched more than ever before. If these muscles are not stretched, they will shorten permanently, which could cause bone deformities. We have seen firsthand the marvelous results of kids who have undergone the PERCs procedure.

We are excited by the potential that these opportunities offer Alaina, but we are overwhelmed by the financial burden. The annual tuition to attend the CLC is $15,000. The estimated cost to perform the PERCs procedure is $8,000. To help with these expenses, we will be hosting an upcoming carnival/auction fundraiser to benefit Alaina’s care. We are seeking help from our friends, family and community businesses. We greatly appreciate any assistance, referrals and support you can provide Alaina. With your permission, we would like to acknowledge your support at our event, and highlight you on our blog (http://www.thealainajoyfundraiser.blogspot.com/). This event will be held on Saturday, August 16, 2008 at First Baptist Church of Zeeland, MI. We hope to see you there.

Jeremy and Trisha

I (we) would like to help in the following way(s):
Donate a new item or gift certificate for the auction
Make a monetary donation to Alaina Joy
Volunteer to help at the upcoming carnival/auction fundraiser
I (we) wish to remain anonymous

*For questions or additional information, please feel free to contact us at daisysanddots@yahoo.com

Monday, May 5, 2008

Spastic Diplegia - A form of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is the name for a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. Cerebral palsy can be caused by trauma to one or more specific areas of the brain, most likely occurring sometime between fetal development and infancy. The disorders associated with cerebral palsy are not caused by problems in the muscles or nerves, but instead by faulty development or damage to motor areas in the brain. This disrupts the brain's ability to properly control movement and posture. The area of the brain in which trauma occurred will determine the affects of the condition.
Cerebral palsy has different forms and one such form is spastic diplegia. Spastic diplegia is when both legs are affected by cerebral palsy. A patient may have difficulty walking because of tight muscles in the hips and legs, causing the legs to turn inward and cross at the knees. This causes the legs to move stiff and awkward causing a characteristic walking rhythm known as the scissors gait.
Spastic diplegia cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage in the outer layer of the brain, the cerebral cortex. Spastic diplegia cerebral palsy affects nearly 70 to 80 percent of patients and is the most common form of cerebral palsy. Spastic diplegia cerebral palsy symptoms include increased tone, or tension, in a muscle. Normal muscles work in pairs and when one group of muscles contract, the other group relaxes, allowing uninhibited movement in the desired direction.
Complications in brain-to-nerve-to-muscle communication prevent the normal degree of muscle tension. Muscles affected by spastic diplegia cerebral palsy become active together and block effective movement. This results in the muscles of spastic diplegia cerebral palsy patients to be constantly tense, or spastic.
Cerebral palsy can be classified by the way it affects movement or by the number of limbs it affects. These classifications can be combined to describe severe conditions such as spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. In spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, all four limbs are affected; both legs, as well as mild affects in the arms are present.
Spastic diplegia cerebral palsy tends to affect the legs of a patient more than the arms. Spastic diplegia patients have more extensive involvement of the lower extremity than the upper extremity. Patients with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy will eventually have the ability to walk. Patients with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy are typically characterized by a crouched gait. Gait analysis and proper treatment can correct toe walking and flexed knees, which are common attributes of spastic diplegia.
Individuals with spastic diplegia can be helped by specialized treatment teams to decide which treatments are best suited for them. Leg braces, gait analysis, botox injections, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, and several other treatments can help to manage spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. A specialized treatment team should include a physical therapist, pediatrician, physiatrist, neurologist and neurosurgeon, and an orthopedic surgeon that can all aid in the decision making process.

* Information gathered from the Cerebral Palsy Source *

Friday, May 2, 2008

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a term used to describe a group of disorders affecting body movement and muscle co-ordination. The medical definition of cerebral palsy is a "non-progressive" but not unchanging disorder of movement and/or posture, due to an insult to or anomaly of the developing brain. Development of the brain starts in early pregnancy and continues until about age three. Damage to the brain during this time may result in cerebral palsy.

This damage interferes with messages from the brain to the body, and from the body to the brain. The effects of cerebral palsy vary widely from individual to individual. At its mildest, cerebral palsy may result in a slight awkwardness of movement or hand control. At its most severe, CP may result in virtually no muscle control, profoundly affecting movement and speech. Depending on which areas of the brain have been damaged, one or more of the following may occur:

(1) muscle tightness or spasms
(2) involuntary movement
(3) difficulty with "gross motor skills" such as walking or running
(4) difficulty with "fine motor skills" such as writing or doing up buttons
(5) difficulty in perception and sensation

These effects may cause associated problems such as difficulties in feeding, poor bladder and bowel control, breathing problems, and pressure sores. The brain damage which caused cerebral palsy may also lead to other conditions such as: seizures, learning disabilities or developmental delay. It is important to remember that limbs affected by cerebral palsy are not paralysed and can feel pain, heat, cold and pressure. It is also important to remember that the degree of physical disability experienced by a person with cerebral palsy is not an indication of his/her level of intelligence.

Cerebral palsy is not a progressive condition - damage to the brain is a one-time event so it will not get worse - and people with cerebral palsy have a normal life-span. Although the condition is not progressive, the effects of CP may change over time. Some may improve: for example, a child whose hands are affected may be able to gain enough hand control to write and to dress him/herself. Others may get worse: tight muscles can cause problems in the hips and spine of growing children which require orthopaedic surgery; the aging process can be harder on bodies with abnormal posture or which have had little exercise.

Medically it is important to remember that Cerebral Palsy:

(1) is NOT contagious
(2) is NOT hereditary
(3) is NOT life-threatening

*This information was gathered from the OFCP