NOVEMBER 2, 1946
NEW YORK, Friday—I have written many times in this column of the need for research in the field of cerebral palsy, and the need for further study of the heart diseases from which so many children suffer after attacks of rheumatic fever. One of the great difficulties encountered by children who suffer from cerebral palsy is the lack of public care available on a low-cost basis. In addition, there has been very little assistance available at high or low cost, for continuing education for young people who may be able to learn to do some kind of work—and even hold an outside job if they have the proper facilities and can return to congenial environment.
Just the other day, I received a story about a new undertaking in this field, which interested me greatly. A group of businessmen has just been granted a charter by the New York State Division of Corporations to run on a nonprofit basis a club for spastic young men. Pemberton House will be its name, and it is not a charity. It is nonprofit, but each member will pay his share of the cost. These costs, because of privacy and homelike atmosphere and because of the special care required, will not be low, but it is possible that they may be considerably lower than adult spastics now pay in private institutions and for special care and attendance at home.
Of course, to establish this house will require a fairly good-sized membership. But with a large membership, the cost can be kept reasonably low and it is for that reason that I make special note of it. The people behind this movement are desirous to make it known to the group of young men for whom it will be a great boon.
Even this undertaking, however, does not meet the needs of those in the low-income brackets. That is why it is essential that the government take cognizance of the problem of these youngsters who face, from their earliest days, a crippled existence.
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There are women as well as men to think of, and one of the saddest things to think about is that as spastics grow older they are left with very little companionship and care. This is even more heartbreakingly true where the really poor are concerned.
There are more victims of cerebral palsy and the various forms of heart disease than there are those afflicted with infantile paralysis. The public however, has been less aware of the toll that these diseases take. I hope that someday not too far off research in all three fields will lead to cures and, perhaps, prevention.
At the present time, all we can do for those who are badly afflicted with polio is to give them the best care and best training possible. That holds good of spastic people as well. Care that improves their general health and training that makes them able to enjoy many things and to develop certain gifts so they need not feel a useless burden on the world are as important to spastics as to the victims of infantile paralysis.
I was interested to read a little item the other day stating that a number of paralyzed servicemen in the veteran's hospitals are getting much pleasure out of developing what abilities they may have for expression in writing. It is evident that what all crippled people need is a sense of accomplishment that spurs them on to further effort.