The Cerebral Palsy Association (Eastern Cape) was established in Port Elizabeth in 1955. The primary mission of the Association is to encourage, assist and care for all persons affected by cerebral palsy, and assist them to attain their maximum potential and independently integrate into the community.
The Association’s therapy-related services are packaged and delivered through the Hambisela programme. Therapy is the primary healthcare tool for the management of cerebral palsy and so Hambisela is a critical element of the Association’s services. Hambisela is an isiXhosa word which means “make progress”, and is used in the context of making progress towards excellence in therapy for cerebral palsy. The objective of Hambisela is to improve the level and intensity of therapeutically-correct ongoing care received by individuals affected by cerebral palsy in the broad community.
We have several ongoing projects:
A: Hambisela Care Centre Project
A great number of children, teenagers and adults with CP are attending day care centres, or are living in residential centres. Most of these centres are run on a very small budget and can therefore not afford to appoint therapists. Many of the managers and caregivers have very little or no experience in dealing with CP. Furthermore, many of these centres do not have the correct positioning equipment (or the knowledge on how to use them) in place for their residents/attendees for effective postural management. The Hambisela Care Centre Program was developed to integrate Hambisela caregiver training with other development support interventions, to address some of the challenges faced by these care centres.
B: Hambisela Healthcare Centre Project
The overall objective of the Healthcare Centre Project is to establish an effective and well-managed cerebral palsy management programme within the community healthcare structures throughout the Eastern Cape and eventually throughout South Africa.
The latest development is called Hambisela-Usana and is focused on early identification and intervention. In collaboration with one of the local tertiary hospitals children with high-risk birth histories are screened using the General Movements Assessment, and those identified as at risk for cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities are referred to appropriate early intervention services.
C: Hambisela Research
The Association acknowledged the need for community-based approaches with a good evidence-based approach. We are currently busy with one study, and planning a second one.
• The first study (currently ongoing) focuses on the impact of the Hambisela parent/caregiver training programme on functional outcomes in the children with cerebral palsy as well as looking at parent outcomes.
• The second study (in planning) focuses on developing a scalable model for early identification and intervention for infants at risk of developing cerebral palsy. We realise the importance of early identification and hence early intervention to assist with these children’s’ development whilst the brain plasticity is at its greatest.