UCLA Presents Forum for Cerebral Palsy Patients and Caregivers


Patients and caregivers at a recent educational forum hosted by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) learned about therapeutic options in cerebral palsy (CP) and advances in research.

The event was presented by the UCLA’s Orthopaedic Institute for Children’s (OIC) Center for Cerebral Palsy, and held in conjunction with the first combined meeting of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine and the International Alliance of Academies of Childhood Disability. The Sept. 18-21 conference in Anaheim, California, focused on global environmental factors and childhood-onset disabilities.

The community forum was designed to foster idea exchanges and relationships among patients, families and healthcare professionals. It was hosted by Eileen Fowler, PhD, the Center for Cerebral Palsy’s director of research and education, and Rachel Thompson, MD, the center’s associate director, and both participated in the professional conference.

Fowler discussed “Clinical Correlates of Impaired White Matter Tracts in Children with Spastic Bilateral Cerebral Palsy.” The brain’s periventricular white matter contains cells that control a variety of mental and physical actions. Fibers in the white matter connect disparate parts of the brain and spinal cord, enabling fluid body movement and sharp mindfulness. White matter also contains myelin, which protects the fibers. Damage or cell death in this part of the brain is a strong indicator that a child will develop CP.

Thompson presented “Lower Extremity Osteotomies in Pediatric Orthopaedics.” In cerebral palsy, a range of orthopedic procedures can improve mobility, correct or prevent debilitating deformities, reduce spasticity, minimize tremors, loosen tight muscles, and control pain. Generally, such surgeries are considered when less-invasive treatments have failed. Lower extremity procedures involve feet, ankles, legs and hips.

Fowler and Thompson also helped organize the forum, which included giveaways and other family-friendly activities.

The OIC Center for Cerebral Palsy is the sole interdisciplinary clinic in the Los Angeles area that assesses and treats cerebral palsy patients throughout their lifespan. The UCLA OIC is the West Coast’s largest pediatric facility focused exclusively on musculoskeletal conditions.

As the most common childhood physical disability in the United States — more than 760,000 children and adults are affected — cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.

Mary M. Chapman began her professional career at United Press International, running both print and broadcast desks. She then became a Michigan correspondent for what is now Bloomberg BNA, where she mainly covered the automotive industry plus legal, tax and regulatory issues. A member of the Automotive Press Association and one of a relatively small number of women on the car beat, Chapman has discussed the automotive industry multiple times of National Public Radio, and in 2014 was selected as an honorary judge at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. She has written for numerous national outlets including Time, People, Al-Jazeera America, Fortune, Daily Beast, MSN.com, Newsweek, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The winner of the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding reporting, Chapman has had dozens of articles in The New York Times, including two on the coveted front page. She has completed a manuscript about centenarian car enthusiast Margaret Dunning, titled “Belle of the Concours.”

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Ana holds a PhD in Immunology from the University of Lisbon and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) in Lisbon, Portugal. She graduated with a BSc in Genetics from the University of Newcastle and received a Masters in Biomolecular Archaeology from the University of Manchester, England. After leaving the lab to pursue a career in Science Communication, she served as the Director of Science Communication at iMM.

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