Whatever our ability, it pays to keep moving, as Mark Liberatore explains.

People living with disabilities like cerebral palsy are often encouraged to participate in weekly therapy interventions from a very young age. The goal of such interventions include reaching milestones, improving gross and fine motor skills, mobility, communication and  daily living activities. When combined, these therapies help to increase the social and community participation of the individual, which can have profound benefits on emotional and psychological well-being.

“It is well documented that those living with disabilities rarely achieve even close to 30 minutes of recommended physical activity per day”.

Despite the significant benefits of focusing on therapy related goals, it often takes place outside of education time, resulting in children and teens not always receiving the same level of access to exercise and sport related activities as their developing peers. This can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle and, as a consequence, the development of lifestyle related chronic health conditions.

The NSW Department of Health recommends children and teens complete at least 60 minutes of moderate to high intensity physical activity per day to obtain optimum health. But it is well documented that those living with disabilities rarely achieve even close to 30 minutes per day.

The proven benefits of exercise

A range of up to date research indicates that structured exercise prescription can lead to the following outcomes:

  • Increased muscle strength and endurance
  • Improved coordination and balance (leading to reduced falls risk)
  • Improved resting heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Better maintenance of healthy weight ranges (BMI specific)
  • Increased emotional wellbeing due to social nature of activities
  • Reported improvements in self confidence

In order to prevent health related complications, it is essential that children and teens of all abilities are provided with the opportunity to access exercise and sport related activities.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance specialises in delivering services to people living with disabilities. They run a range of programs using specialised equipment such as Race Running and Boccia, encouraging children and teens to find a sport they enjoy. They have professionals such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists and exercise physiologists who not only provide expert support, but also have the skills to link in with mainstream sporting organisations and institutions who have the desire and skills to appropriately support these types of clients.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) is an organisation that has been providing therapeutic supports to babies, children, teenagers and adults living with cerebral palsy and other neurological and physical disabilities for over 70 years. CPA’s patient centred approach to service delivery means the organisation has a deep understanding of client needs, particularly around the strong therapeutic value of exercise and sport.

Mark Liberatore is Manager- Health & Well-being (Cerebral Palsy Alliance) & ESSA Accredited Exercise Physiologist .