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From the Rush Archives: World Cerebral Palsy Day and a Boy's First Steps, 1975

by Nathalie Wheaton on 2020-10-06T08:00:00-05:00 in Archives, History | 0 Comments

-Post contributed by Rush Archives Work Study Student Kirsten Petrarca, Doctoral Student in Audiology, Rush University.

October 6 is World Cerebral Palsy Day. The World Cerebral Palsy Day movement is made up of people with cerebral palsy and their families and the organizations that support them. It is a day to focus on ensuring that people with cerebral palsy have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in our society. 

Young Rush patient with cerebral palsy begins to walk after procedure, NewsRounds, 1975In 1975, 8-year-old Delbert, a Rush patient who was born with cerebral palsy and could not use his arms or legs, was implanted with electrodes that directly stimulated the cerebellum to alleviate the motor symptoms of his condition. Following the surgery, Delbert attended physical therapy three times a week and quickly learned how to walk. 

CAPTION: "With a little help, Delbert is able to walk for the first time in his life. He also is able to feed himself and wants to start swimming lessons, now that he is gaining control of his limbs." From Rush's NewsRounds newsletter, July 1975[1]

Delbert was one of the youngest recipients of the brain “stimulator” and one of the first recipients in Chicago. Delbert’s surgery was performed at Rush by Richard D. Penn, MD, assistant attending, neurosurgery. In 1977, Dr. Penn received a two-year research grant from the United Cerebral Palsy Research and Educational Foundation. The primary goals of Dr. Penn’s study were to develop guidelines for patient selection, identify why outcomes differed among recipients, and determine the duration and frequency of stimulation required for symptom relief.

A 1977 update on Dr. Penn's work, "Brain Implants in Cerebral Palsy Patients Studied," can be found in Rush's The Magazine, Spring 1977. [2] 

CAPTION: Richard D. Penn, M.D., the neurosurgeon who performed the operation, beckons to Delbert to walk to him. From NewsRounds, July 1975.

To learn more about World Cerebral Palsy Day, visit their website:

Richard D. Penn, MD, Rush neurosurgeon, 1975

Want to learn more about the history of Rush or the Rush Archives collections? Explore the Rush Archives website, or contact the archivist, Nathalie Wheaton, MSLS.

All documents and photographs belong to the records collections of Rush University Medical Center Archives, Chicago, Ill. Contact the archivist for permissions and full citations.



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