Dr Anita Parbhoo, medical manager at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, and Western Cape Cerebral Palsy Association chairperson Noor Osman unveil the plaque to honour the founder of the Cerebral Palsy Clinic at the hospital. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town – The Western Cape Cerebral Palsy Association has unveiled a plaque in honour of Dr Leila Arens, who spent most of her career caring for children with cerebral palsy at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital.

Arens published many studies on caring for children with cerebral palsy and pioneered several novel therapies designed to improve the quality of life of the children she treated.

She taught many generations of medical students and was known for her excellent teaching.

Arens, with Dr Gladys Beinhart, started the Cerebral Palsy Clinic at the hospital in 1968, a time when developmental medicine and child neurology was in its infancy internationally.

Over the past 50 years, thousands of children with cerebral palsy have received specialist rehabilitative therapy at the Clinic.

The clinic continues to provide 300 rehabilitative physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy sessions a month that aim to improve both the functional ability and quality of life of children with the condition.

Cerebral palsy is a developmental disorder of a child’s brain which results in difficulty of movement that affects walking, sitting, eating and drinking.

The condition is lifelong, with no cure.

The medical manager of the hospital, Dr Anita Parbhoo, said: “Collaborating with the Western Cape Cerebral Palsy Association therapists in a multidisciplinary clinic to treat cerebral palsy patients has provided a holistic, patient-centred service for these patients.”

Arens died last year on July 8, in Minnesota in the US, where she emigrated in 2001 to join her children.

The Western Cape Cerebral Palsy Association, Western Cape Government Health, and the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital said in a statement they would always be grateful to this pioneer and visionary for her dedication to the treatment and care of children with cerebral palsy.

Cape Times