Psychological Impact of Cerebral Palsy on Families: The African Perspective

Olawale, O. A. ; Abraham, N. D. ; Yaadar, R. K. (2013-04)

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Background: Psychological stress associated with cerebral palsy (CP) is known to be one of the most depressing conditions of families. In the traditional African society, some peculiar factors may contribute to the stress. Aims: The aims of this study were to identify and describe, from the African perspective, the psychological impact of CP on families and determine the strategies adopted by families in coping with it. Settings and design: The study was a cross-sectional descriptive survey conducted in the Physiotherapy Department of a tertiary hospital. Materials and methods: Participants were 52 parents of children with CP. They completed a questionnaire designed to determine the degree of psychological stress on the families and strategies adopted to cope with the stress. Statistical analysis: Descriptive statistics were used to show responses in graphical formats. Results: Respondents agreed that having adequate knowledge of CP would help them cope well with the demands of taking care of children with CP. 38.5% of respondents said that people in the society accused them of some wrongdoing that has made their children to have CP. Personal problems experienced include loss of job, lack of concentration at work, loss of family joy, and derangement of financial affairs of the family. 26 (50%) of them resort to religious/spiritual intervention as an alternative or complementary mode of treatment for their children while 28% resort to dependence on the extended family system for support. Conclusion: Families caring for children with CP generally have a positive attitude towards their children. However, there is need to educate the public on the causes of CP and treatment options available to families.