Cerebral Palsy Winter Tips

Cerebral Palsy Winter Tips

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If the winter months leave you feeling frustrated and trapped, today’s post remains worth a read. Hopefully helping you curb your desire to rip up that endearing photo depicting a seemingly charming snowfall. Or keep you from knocking the mocking grin off the neighbor’s snowperson. Instead, the proceeding winter tips seek to help you cope with your cerebral palsy throughout the year’s coldest months. Due to how CP differs per person, all advice may not apply to you.  Nevertheless, I am optimistic at least one tip will assist you in addressing the less pleasant reality behind winter’s happy façade.

Winter can intensify CP. Already tight muscles tightening further thanks to low temperatures. Other wintery elements, such as snow and ice, making maintaining your pre-existing vulnerable balance a more delicate act. These physical challenges gnawing away at you. Wearing you down both physically and emotionally. Until you find yourself spiraling into despair.

Not on my watch! As I previously stated, I plan to share some tips to help you get through winter. Winter tips I cultivated over 30-plus years dealing with spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy and Cleveland, Ohio’s uncaring cold snowy winters.

Tip #1- Listen to the Whispers

Although the weather proves uncaring, your body certainly will care. Providing you feedback daily. First, whispering. Minor aches creeping in. Gone unattended though, those whispers grow into silent screams. “This hurts. This hurts” repeating in your mind. Muffling your ability to concentrate, obliterating any motivation you attempt to muster.

Enter the importance behind listening to the whispers. Reacting to your body’s quiet murmurs as soon as possible. Exactly what that looks like varies by the issue. Often in winter I experience slight back pain when awaking in the morning. To respond, I plug in my electric heating pad and let the heat supply relief. 30 or 40 minutes with the heating pad and I am good to go all day.

Another example involves my hamstrings. Winter’s colder temperatures increasing their spasticity. Unchecked, the increased tightness impairs my capability to focus. Therefore, upon experiencing the magnetic like pull within my hamstrings I turn to my knee immobilizer and leg cast to get a good stretch in. Essentially resulting in me stretching more frequently during the winter months.

Tip #2- Carry a Blowtorch. Maybe?

While my first tip should help you continue functioning amidst falling temperatures, the tidbit fails to address other wintery elements. The snide snow and his companions, ice and slush. Nefarious foes, threatening your already fragile balance.

Thankfully, here comes my next two winter tips to the rescue! Start by ensuring you possess the proper equipment. Oh, how I wish “proper equipment” meant carrying a blowtorch with you to clear away winter’s debris. Nonetheless, for multiple reasons the blowtorch option stands quite impractical. Oppose to blowtorches, consider your footwear.  

Typically, I keep my selection in kicks between two choices. My regular New Balance sneakers and then my winter shoes. The difference in the two exists in their soles. A good winter shoe contains a rigid sole. Helping you maintain a better grip when moving through snow and slush. Nevertheless, a good rigid sole only gets you so far.   

A side by side comparison of my shoes' different soles.

Tip #3- Put the Cerebral in Cerebral Palsy

As you wear the proper footgear, ensure you put the cerebral in cerebral palsy. Meaning, approaching the situation using the definition for cerebral .“Intellectual rather than emotional or physical.”

Begin by taking short, deliberate steps. Such measured movements enable you to test the ground underneath the snow. Giving you the chance to see if any ice lays beneath. Perchance an icy trap does loom, short, deliberate steps should successfully assist you in your impromptu ice gliding mission. Improving your chances to stay upright by keeping a small, sturdy base.

Remember the goal. Moving without falling. Ice presents a balance obstacle. Not a timed one! Avoid rushing by giving yourself extra time to do what you need to do.           

Tip #4- Follow Oliva Newton-John’s Lead

Unfortunately, no matter how much extra time you give yourself certain realities remain unavoidable. Short, deliberate steps allow you to navigate your driveway or a parking lot. However, I doubt the approach enables you to walk to the corner store and back. Leaving winter to reduce non-drivers’ independence. Cause to feel frustrated. As well as isolated.

Ugh! Nasty feelings. Personally, I discovered emotional relief following Olivia Newton-John’s lead. Yes, I am referencing her 1981 song “Physical.” Getting physical, albeit via my at home exercise routines or riding a stational bike, supplies an outlet to release frustration.

Meanwhile, relieving isolation requires an opportunistic attitude. Seizing the days where the sidewalks look clear by planning to walk to a coffee shop to meet a friend. Or, trekking over to your favorite local business. Understanding tomorrow the sky could dump new fresh white he🏒🏒 across your neighborhood. Thus today, carpe diem!                   

What Did You Think About My Winter Tips?

Did reading the above spark a lightbulb moment for you? Triggering you to think “That’s a good idea!” Or maybe generate comradery. Leaving you excitedly thinking “I do that too!”  Let me know in the comments.

While commenting, please add your own winter tips. Share what helps you get through winter. I am curious.

Until next time, remember. Don’t blend in. Blend out!

-Zachary

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