People with cerebral palsy were able to strengthen their self-control and confidence after being part of an open science research project from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. This was achieved by challenging patients’ assumptions regarding their own limitations on a skiing trip.
Patients’ families and doctors were part of the project — an inclusion key to the open research approach — further helping to ensure the project was supportive of the patients.
“What I have tried to do is to involve everyone who is somehow affected by or has a professional stake in cerebral palsy in order to arrive at an all-encompassing understanding of the problem and to avoid the current lack of communication between researchers and professional,” said Dr. Kristian Martiny, the head of the investigation and a postdoctoral student at the university’s Center for Subjectivity Research, in a press release.
The social challenge inherent to the skiing trip was designed by Dr. Martiny in cooperation with therapists, psychologists, and neurologists. During the trip, the patients’ mental and physical limits were tested, proving them to be capable of much more than they thought. This was relevant considering that cerebral palsy patients often have a negative self-image in addition to the motor and speech difficulties caused by the condition.
Cerebral palsy patients are also extremely influenced by their surroundings and others’ reactions to them, making the open and inclusive (family and doctors) approach mandatory.
“In order to help persons with cerebral palsy we need to fully understand what it means to live with a congenital brain damage,” Dr. Martiny said.
Dr. Martiny also highlighted the relevance that humanizing CP can have on a broader audience. Specifically, research he conducted into a group of people watching the play “Humane Liquidation,” about CP patient Jacob Nussel, “clearly had a very positive effect on the members of the focus group who gradually began to see things from Jacob Nossell’s point of view and not least see him as an individual they could identify with rather than as a disabled person,” Dr. Martiny said.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that results from non-progressive brain injury or malformation during a child’s brain development.