Conceptualization of cerebral palsy: Experiences of caregivers of children with cerebral palsy in Ghanaian Rural Communities

Gifty Gyamah Nyante, Simon Igo, Christine Carpenter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cerebral palsy has been identified as the most common, chronic childhood disability that causes appreciable motor deficit. Societies’ interpretion of disabling conditions affect the attitudes of members towards persons living with disability
and their health seeking behaviour. The conceptualization of childhood disability has negative implications for the caregiving process and influences the efficacy of rehabilitation programs. The purpose of this study was to describe how
caregivers of children with cerebral palsy living in rural communities who have never received any form of formal rehabilitation care conceptualise cerebral palsy and disability. A descriptive phenomenological approach as proposed by
Husserl was used to explore the experiences of 12 caregivers of children—9 months, 2 years, up to 14 years—living with cerebral palsy. The caregivers’ interviews were analysed using Colaizzi’s phenomenological method of data analysis framework. One main theme emerged with seven sub-themes. The themes and sub-themes revealed that caregivers developed religious and spiritual beliefs to interpret their children’s condition. Caregivers perceived the cause of cerebral palsy to be a spiritual condition which required spiritual interventions. Caregivers’ religious and spiritual beliefs promoted the acceptance of children’s condition, the development of coping mechanisms, the feeling of a hopeful future, and commitment to caring for the children because of the expected benefits and blessings from God. However, caregivers’ lack of understanding of cerebral palsy resulted in hopelessness and profound sadness. Caregivers’ psychological responses to the children’s condition shaped the decisions they made on behalf of their children, their search for interventions, and their engagement in practices that they perceived could positively influence their children’s recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalNumidHorizon: An International Journal of Nursing and Midwifery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Caregivers
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Children
  • Phenomenology
  • Rural


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