These include the 'Neater Eater', a smartly named device which when tailored to the individual's needs provides disabled children and adults with a system which allows them to feed themselves. In circumstances where this was previously not possible, the dignity and independence this can facilitate is immeasurable.
But perhaps the most frustrating and strenuous aspect of the condition for parents is communication. Around half of cerebral palsy sufferers have speech problems, and often their speech can be severely or entirely impaired. For your child to be unable to explain their thoughts, desires, or frustrations to you can create a barrier like no other within the bond of parent and child.
Step forward, once again, technology..
Incredibly, with the advent of 'Eyegaze' technology, there is scope for children with even severe muscle impairments and speech problems to 'talk' fluently. The equipment utilises a high quality camera on top of a screen to track the user's eye movements. Analysing where on the screen the user is looking 60 times per second allows the control of an array of buttons to form phrases and sentences. The hardware then converts the words into audio. Such accuracy and speed of processing means that children who have never been able to speak to their loved ones are able to articulate their thoughts and feelings into words, using just their eyes.
A touching example of the miracle of such equipment is 12-year-old Lianna Bryant from Ohio in the United States. Before she started using Eyegaze she was non verbal, and communicated basic messages through eye and head movements. Now though, she is able to fluently and effectively express herself.
In one of several videos published documenting Lianna's experience, she tells her teacher, "I really do like it when you talk with me, but please, don't use baby talk with me, I like it best when you just speak to me like you do to the other 9 year old kids you know". That Lianna is able to so confidently assert her feelings, having been non-verbal for most of her life, is a testament to the liberating impact that this equipment can have on the lives of children with cerebral palsy as well as their friends and family.
Eyegaze technology is becoming more widespread in its use by disabled children, but the high price tag inevitably leaves many without such a lifeline. There is optimism however, for a future where equipment can be much more cheaply produced. In any case, Lianna's experience with Eyegaze serves as a beacon of hope that the barriers created by disability can be overcome.