I have spastic Cerebral Palsy. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, spasticity is “abnormal muscle tightness due to prolonged muscle contraction. It is a symptom associated with damage to the brain, spinal cord, or motor nerves.”
For me, many factors affect the degree of spasticity I feel at any given moment. One of the most significant factors in the amount of spasticity I feel on any day is my mood. This is especially true when it comes to strong emotions.
When I get excited about something, often, my legs will tighten. During my PT sessions, if I am excited by the topic of discussion, the PT can usually tell because I suddenly become tighter. Conversely, if I am upset or frustrated about something, my entire body becomes stiffer and more spastic. In addition, when I am focusing on something my body also becomes tense.
Having grown up in New England means that I am used to cold winters and hot summers. Weather is another example of a factor that plays a role in my CP symptoms. I don’t usually enjoy being outside in the cold long because it worsens my spasticity. I enjoy warm showers and my heated blanket after being out in the cold. For me, this also makes it more difficult to complete routine tasks.
Everyday tasks take more energy when it’s cold outside. Energy is something that I have to work hard to conserve, even in ideal weather. In the summer, extremely hot temperatures have the same effect on my spasticity as the cold. This is why I am not fond of spending days at the beach. Too long outside when it’s hot and humid leads to me feeling spastic.
Cerebral Palsy is a disability that requires constant adaption. On any given day, my symptoms might appear to be worse than the other day. However, please don’t assume that I’m lazy or not trying hard enough. Living with CP is tough even when my symptoms aren’t made worse by factors such as emotions or the weather.
“Spasticity.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine, http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/spasticity.