August 24, 2022

Step Up for CP During STEPtember

Logo with the words Steptember move together for cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common lifelong physical disability in the world. It affects roughly 1 million people in the U.S. and 18 million people worldwide. Yet research about CP remains vastly underfunded.

However, by participating in STEPtember, a global health and wellness event, you can make a difference. The virtual event helps Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF) raise funds for life-changing scientific and technological advances.

Participating is fun, free, and easy for people of all fitness and ability levels. All you have to do is start moving.

“STEPtember is an inclusive, peer-to-peer fundraising challenge that’s also great for your health,” says Michael Pearlmutter, executive director of CPARF. “You can either take 10,000 steps a day or choose from 80 activities that convert to steps, like physical therapy, handcycling, horseback riding, chores around the house, everything you can possibly imagine. And if 10,000 steps isn’t a reasonable goal, you can set your personal goal to a number that’s meaningful for you.”

Because STEPtember is free, anyone can join the challenge at any time in September. “If someone isn’t interested in the month-long challenge, they can just do a one-week challenge or even a one-day challenge,” says Michael.

To participate, start by registering as an individual or as a team at STEPtember : Register. After that, share your personal fundraising page with friends and family. Finally, track and record your movement in September through the optional app, online, or any other way that works for you.

What Is CP?

While most people have heard of CP, they may not understand exactly what it is. That’s because CP isn’t a singular condition. Instead, it’s an “umbrella term referring to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move,” according to CPARF’s website.

CP occurs when there’s damage to the brain during pregnancy or birth, or shortly after birth. While there is no single cause of CP, there are certain risk factors that increase its chances of occurring. These include premature birth, stroke, low birth weight, multiple births, oxygen loss during pregnancy or at birth, and blood type difference between the mother and the baby.

The condition is as unique as each person who lives with it. It can affect mobility, communication, sight, hearing, or behavior to varying degrees. While one person may limp slightly, another may be unable to feed or dress themselves.

To address the needs of those who have CP, CPARF funds research on detection and early intervention, chronic pain, technology, regenerative medicine, and genomics.

“Funds raised through STEPtember support our broad research and innovation efforts but each year we focus on a couple of specific projects,” says Michael. “This year’s focus is on technology and our disability technology start-up accelerator called Remarkable US.”

black and white photo of five people who are the STEPtember trainers. All have CP.who are the

This year’s STEPtember trainers.
(Photo courtesy CPARF)

Making Accessibility Accessible

Launched this year by CPARF in partnership with CP Alliance in Australia, Remarkable US helps develop start-ups that want to innovate in disability, aging, or health technology.

“For the 18 million people who have cerebral palsy and for the 20% of the world that uses assistive technology, Remarkable US is a game-changer,” says Michael.  “The technology is developed by or heavily involves people with disabilities every step of the way. It’s well made, thoughtful, affordable, and takes into consideration the needs of the community. You don’t get that if people with disabilities aren’t included.”

The work being done by Remarkable US isn’t just for those living with CP, according to Michael. “This technology will impact people with many different disabilities. For example, one can technology helps anyone who has mobility challenges, such as people who are aging and finding it more difficult to get around.”

Best of all, it won’t be out of reach financially, unlike many new disability tech innovations. “People don’t need another $40,000 product,” explains Michael. “We like to say we’re making accessibility accessible and that includes affordability.”

Learn more about cerebral palsy and STEPtember at Home | Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation – USA (cparf.org).