Surprising Research, Lessons at Cerebral Palsy
Dr. Mindy Aisen of Potomac takes reins.
Nov 30, 2005 -
By Ken Millstone/The Almanac
are a lot of things Dr. Mindy Aisen wishes people understood about cerebral
palsy, probably enough to make a top 10 list.
1) It’s not a disease. It’s a disorder or developmental disability. It is not
progressive, degenerative or communicable.
2) It isn’t really one disorder but a category of similar neurological
impairments noticed in infancy.
3) Most people with cerebral palsy have no mental impairment and many — perhaps
an unusually high proportion — pursue careers in science, medicine, law and
other high-skill professions. ….
Aisen, a Potomac resident who took over Nov. 1 as the director and CEO of the
nonprofit United Cerebral Palsy Research and Educational Foundation, knows that
demystifying cerebral palsy is an uphill battle.
The very name is arcane. What does “palsy” mean, anyway? People feel more
comfortable donating to more familiar medical causes.
“It sounds sort of crass, doesn’t it, that ... we’re competing with cancer,”
Aisen said in an interview at her home near Piney Meetinghouse Road.
“Everything’s important. But that’s the reality. It’s hardly an idyllic world.”
AISEN IS FORTHRIGHT in talking about the cerebral palsy universe, an approach
that seems aimed at unraveling the discomfort of those unfamiliar with the
disorder. Some of the messages are standard fare for medical research nonprofits
— that education is key, that researchers need more dollars, and that people
with cerebral palsy have the same needs and desires as others."