In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, children and adults living with cerebral palsy are at higher risk for severe illness due to their susceptibility to chronic diseases, compromised immune systems and their compromised mental well-being. The Center for Disease Control has listed people with neurological disorders such as CP as vulnerable and advised that they should be shielded and isolated. This is particularly dangerous, as people living with CP require special care and therapy and already feel neglected and excluded from society. One could only imagine the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on an already fragile group of people who are fighting a daily health, mental, and social battle. The British Medical Journal recently published a commentary on the socioeconomic gradient in health and the COVID-19 outbreak, in which the writers narrate the story of a 17-year old boy with CP in Hubei who was found dead after being left alone at home for 6 days because his single father was quarantined in a health facility for suspected COVID-19 infection (link).
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, people with CP and their families led a very difficult life – the pandemic has further exposed the frailty and disproportionate burden affecting those living with lifelong neurological diseases. Today, more than ever, our world needs human solidarity and strong multi-disciplinary collaboration to protect our most vulnerable not only from diseases and viruses but also from the detrimental effects of physical suffering and depression that accompany them.
Cerebral Palsy Scotland carried out some research at the end of May to understand how people in Scotland with cerebral palsy were being affected during lockdown and have produced a helpful and thought-provoking report with a picture of the virus’ impact that resonates across the entire UK. You can download a copy here.