03/25/2013 05:02 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2013

National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day: Stories of Hope and Transformation

Today, March 25, 2013, has been designated National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day by the resolution that was just passed in the 112th Congress.

Did you know that approximately 800,000 people in the United States are affected by cerebral palsy? According to the National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day news release: "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released information indicating that cerebral palsy is becoming more prevalent and that about 1 in 303 children suffer from cerebral palsy."

Cerebral palsy is caused when there is a disruption or abnormality in the development of the child's brain, leading to difficulties with movement and at times also resulting in cognitive challenges. Only some of the time the causes for cerebral palsy are known -- such as lack of oxygen at birth, meningitis, fetal stroke, infant stroke, random gene mutations, or traumatic head injury. Cerebral palsy can manifest as severe tightness of certain muscle groups resulting in limited movement or insufficient tonus of the muscles, also leading to greater or lesser limitations in movement.

We know from current brain research how amazing, magnificent, and often surprising the brain is. We also know that the potential of the brain is remarkable, much greater than previously believed to be possible. With the Anat Baniel Method (ABM), we call upon these potentials, using the "Nine Essentials," to help children with cerebral palsy surpass their current limitations.

In honor of National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, I want to share three stories about children and adults with cerebral palsy we have worked with, who have tapped into the incredible potential of their brain to change, transforming their lives in ways previously believed to be impossible.

The Story of Cypress, a Baby With Cerebral Palsy

Amy's son Cypress was born without a heartbeat and had to be resuscitated. He suffered damage to his basal ganglia and was diagnosed as having cerebral palsy. Amy said they were left in despair after his diagnosis and given little hope. Their neurologist told them Cypress would never walk or talk.

At 9 months, they started with the Anat Baniel Method, and it became their only mode of intervention. After three years of lessons, Cypress is walking and according to Amy, "he rarely stops talking."

(Watch the video in which Amy describes her journey from despair to hope, and see Cypress' remarkable progress.)

The Story of a 5-Year-Old Russian Girl With Cerebral Palsy

I received this account from one of our Anat Baniel Method practitioners:

The dad of a 5-year-old girl with a severe cerebral palsy sent me a message... He said that his daughter had such severe spasticity that it was making her scream and cry in pain a lot of times, that in five years of her life she never slept longer than a few hours, because pain and discomfort would wake her up.

He said they've started implementing the nine "essentials," trying to help her relax in many little different ways... instead of stretching and moving her... in just three weeks, she is able to relax her legs now and she sleeps without crying or waking up through the whole night.

Dad said that it changes their whole world... now they just enjoy everything they do... and they get better results than years of other therapy gave them. He was so excited!

(Read the full story here.)

The Story of Daniel, a 27-Year-Old Man With Cerebral Palsy

Daniel sat before me in his wheelchair, leaning way over to the left side. His shoulder, neck, and head were weighed over due to extreme scoliosis, he was strapped to the chair so he couldn't fall, and his legs had not moved or been used for a very long time. Daniel came to our center to get a bit of relief from his acute back and neck pain.

After two weeks of ABM lessons, Daniel was not only sitting taller and centered over his spine, able to move his whole torso safely, and breathing more freely, he was able to help his attendant and intentionally participate in the action of standing up. His sense of self, his feeling of worthiness, and his experience of self-empowerment was remarkable.

(Read the full story here.)

In honor of National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, I invite you to share your stories of hope and transformation with us!

Read more about cerebral palsy and the Anat Baniel Method.

For more by Anat Baniel, click here.

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