Paralympic winners

The information provided on each sport is based on direct personal experience. As every child with cerebral palsy is different, your child’s experience and success in a particular sport may vary. However, the following should provide useful insights on how to proceed and what to expect.

As a former gymnast myself, I believe gymnastics has a lot to offer children with cerebral palsy as basic gymnastics offers a good physical foundation for development of all other sports. Though my daughter was only involved in gymnastics for about a year in preschool, she loved trying the many activities and had a lot of fun as she developed basic skills. At the beginner level, children work on developing balance, coordination, flexibility, strength, and body awareness through repetition of basic exercises and movements. As most of the exercises involve balance, weight bearing, and stretching, basic gymnastics offers tremendous therapeutic benefits. Keep in mind that the effects of cerebral palsy make many of the movements very difficult. However, as for all children, the more these exercise are practiced, the better the CP-child will become at performing them.

Gymnastics Cautions:

To avoid injury, expert supervision is critical at all times. Due to the weight-bearing nature and balancing requirements of the sport, there is greater chance for injury with gymnastics, even at the beginner level, than with many other sports. Thus, no child should participate in gymnastics without adequate and knowledgeable supervision.

Gymnastics at intermediate and advanced levels can be quite dangerous for anyone. As more advanced maneuvers require strong grips, near-perfect body control, and split-second timing, the dangers inherent to the sport are even greater for individuals with brain injury. As risks dramatically increase and achievement of more advanced maneuvers will be limited by the affects of brain injury, I believe gymnastics is most appropriately employed as a fun way for Children with cerebral palsy to build a basic athletic foundation that will facilitate participation in other sports.