KEEPING IT REAL: Lois’ Story

KEEPING IT REAL: Lois' Story
Posted on Thu 22 Oct 2020

We're continuing to amplify the voices of the cerebral palsy community. CP is a lifelong disability and its effects morph as each person gets older. Today, we are proud to feature Lois' story as just one example of what it's like to live with CP in adulthood, and the ways society has changed over several decades.

Keeping It Real: Lois' Story*
By Lois Kurpiel

I was the first born in my family in Brooklyn, NY in March of 1950. As a toddler, I was diagnosed with CP at age 18 months. Little was known about CP and fewer ideas about treatment were expressed to parents. My parents were even told at one point to institutionalize me. They would not accept that finding, and with the help of my pediatrician, Dr. Millstein, they located a doctor, Dr. Winthrop M. Phelps, in Baltimore Maryland in 1951.

For the next 17 years, we traveled twice a year to see Dr. Phelps. He prescribed wearing long leg braces and short leg braces until I was 10 years old and I received local therapy of both OT and PT until he discharged me at age 18. I was able to walk independently without any assistive devices.

While in junior college, I discovered occupational therapy as a career option and pursued it by going to school and graduated Columbia University as a Registered Licensed Occupational Therapist. I continued with my profession for the next 40 years while helping to raise two sons and managing a household with my husband.

In my later years, I needed to have two knee replacements due to valgus, a cervical surgery due to stenosis and an ankle surgery due to walking on the front of my foot. The last surgery was performed by Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky in Cooperstown, NY. I found that he was one of the few doctors that treated adults with cerebral palsy. I now use a walker due increased spasticity, decreased balance, and aging.

* Lois' story is part of KEEPING IT REAL — a series of personal stories that will take you deeper into the lives of people with CP. Each person makes different choices based on what works for them, and we’ll showcase that — highlighting what life is like for them on a daily basis, what they care about, and the ways CP impacts them. 

The KEEPING IT REAL blog is intended solely to raise awareness about the varied human experience with cerebral palsy and shouldn't be read or construed to contain any medical advice or medical endorsement by Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation. Only you and your doctor know what's best for you. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

STEM Changemaker and World CP Day Ambassador Jerusha Mather is already making a difference.  Discover what motivates her.

Wed 7 Oct 2020
World CP Day Reflections

Xian shares her reflections on having cerebral palsy and the sense of community among people who have CP.