Our Research Priorities

Our research priorities bring us closer to fulfilling our mission to fund the best research to prevent, treat, and find a cure for cerebral palsy.

In the past 10 years, 58% of the most effective cerebral palsy treatments have been discovered thanks to the collective efforts of the CP research community around the world. Recent research breakthroughs are already being converted into new preventions for cerebral palsy. However, 1 in 323 children in the U.S. are still born with cerebral palsy, whereas Australia has accelerated in their CP research and diminished the ratio of CP patients to 1 in 700 children. They have been able to do this by medical intervention including identifying high risk pregnancies, giving magnesium sulphate given to pregnant mothers, and by cooling babies’ body temperature after birth which reduces the incidence of cerebral palsy in some babies. We are working to roll out these improved technologies and techniques to hospitals in the U.S. to significantly lower the ratio of people with CP.

Over 80% of children and adults living with cerebral palsy experience daily, debilitating chronic pain. Cerebral palsy affects a person’s ability to walk, talk, sleep and eat, but living with constant pain greatly reduces quality of life by limiting family interaction, social connections, educational activities and employment. The overwhelming negative effects of conventional chronic pain treatments and addictive painkillers on the individual, in too many cases, treats the pain while the quality of life is worsened.  We are currently funding a comprehensive approach to studying underlying causes and potential treatments that do not include addictive opioids to improve the lives of millions of children and their families, including their ability to sleep, move and participate in society across their lifespan. CPARF’s goal is to achieve the most comprehensive and effective scientifically based guidance for the diagnosis and treatment of pain in cerebral palsy by partnering with the best experts in pain from science, services and business in the U.S. and globally.

CP often affects the oral motor function, leaving many people with significant, lifelong speech impairments, leading to loss of decades of social connection and societal contribution. While there has been progress in augmentative communication systems, even the most advanced devices are still ineffective for people living with speech impairment and mobility challenges due to CP.  However, we are partnering with neurologists, neuroscientists, and engineers to develop a TTS system to generate speech directly from thought, like we do every day. The TTS device will improve far beyond the CP community and significantly impact the lives of people with a range of neurological conditions that affect speech including ALS, stroke, Parkinson’s, and more.

CP causes lifelong motor disability when injury occurs to the developing brain that occurs during pregnancy or shortly after birth, the most critical neurological growth phase in human development. For decades, scientific convention has viewed brain tissue and cell damage as permanent with lifelong implications. In recent years, however, the field of regenerative medicine has stimulated major breakthroughs, and stem cell scientists now believe that regenerative treatments for brain repair will cure cerebral palsy. With recent advances in medical technologies, cell sourcing, bioengineering and processing procedures, stem cell research has reached an inflection point of readiness for revolutionizing medicine and preventing or reversing neurological diseases and conditions.  Our scientists are discovering ways ethically sourced skin, placenta, umbilical cord, and bone marrow cells can help repair damaged brain tissue.