History of Cerebral Palsy and Origin of Cerebral Palsy

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The origin of Cerebral Palsy and history of Cerebral Palsy include a number of important milestones and motivated minds working tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of those with special needs. Throughout history, breakthroughs in research, medicine, technology and legislation have occurred. Today, the work continues.

Who discovered Cerebral Palsy?

The origin and history of Cerebral Palsy include a number of great minds, generous hearts, and dedicated people striving to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. In the mid-1800s, Dr. William John Little pioneered the study of Cerebral Palsy using his own childhood disability as an inspiration. His innovative techniques are still helping people today.

Sir William Osler, considered an important figure in furthering modern medicine, wrote the first book on Cerebral Palsy. Dr. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, proposed the idea that Cerebral Palsy might result from abnormal fetal development – decades before the medical field embraced the concept.

Other individuals and organizations made historical strides toward helping those with Cerebral Palsy, as well. At different times, the U.S. government passed crucial legislation to modernize care and further the rights of individuals with a disability. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act, which promoted community-based care as an alternative to institutionalization. On July 26, 1990, President George H. W. Bush passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, prohibiting employers from discriminating against people with a disability.

Innovators continued to bring Cerebral Palsy into the national consciousness, as well. Marie Killilea wrote a book, titled “Karen,” a novel about her daughter’s life with Cerebral Palsy. The book which is still in print today hit the New York Times bestseller list in 1952. Isabelle and Leonard Goldenson and Ethel and Jack Hausman were also parents of children with Cerebral Palsy. Both couples were giants in their respective industries and well-known philanthropists who used their influence to found the organization that eventually became the United Cerebral Palsy Association (UCP).

Breakthroughs in medicine, such as blood typing, the use of phototherapy to cure jaundice, and the development of a vaccine for rubella helped prevent Cerebral Palsy, and continue to do so today. Meanwhile, technological advances allow people to redefine what it means to function with disability.

RESOURCES

History and Origin of Cerebral Palsy

For other sources with general information on the history and origin of cerebral palsy, MyChild recommends the following: