Christine Barber talks about cerebral palsy throughout the lifespan

In September 2017 Christine Barber, took up a long-standing invitation from members of the South African Neurodevelopment Treatment Association (SANDTA – Bobath therapists’ association) to lecture and teach in South Africa.

SANDTA Congress 2017

Christine opened their 2017 Conference on “Transitions” with a keynote speech outlining the crucial periods which affect people with cerebral palsy, their activity, participation and health throughout the lifespan. She emphasised the importance of medical professionals understanding the evolving clinical picture of cerebral palsy throughout the course of life, so that intervention in the early years is not only focused on increasing children’s functional activities to support their participation in everyday situations, but is proactive in minimising the secondary changes that are associated with having a long-term neurodevelopmental condition, so that participation and health are maximised and maintained in adult life.

Christine particularly focused on the difference between the effects of having a long-term neurological condition and the physiological effects of aging, both of which can result in premature loss of function, decline in health, and therefore restrict participation. She emphasised the importance of therapists understanding the underlying global process that over time may lead to increasing pain and fatigue, both key symptoms of Post Impairment Syndrome, or more specific pathological processes that can lead to specific secondary neurological damage associated with dyskinetic movements.

She highlighted the importance of physical activity and fitness in counteracting the effects of typical aging on adults with cerebral palsy, and the need to be proactive in slowing down and managing the effects on function of the decline in physical strength that is a feature of the aging process.

Here is Christine Barber in action at Malamulele Onwards in South Africa – a chrarity run by Dr Gillian Saloojee who trained and worked at Bobath in the 1990s. The charity runs Carer to Carer training programmes in rural South Africa.