SHANGHAI - Wang Lihua sent her son to a Shanghai rehabilitation center for the disabled when he was three years old. Now about to turn six, her son, who has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination, has regained use of some parts of his body.
"When he first came to the center, he was not able to crawl, kneel, or stand. Now he has not only learned these abilities, but also learned to walk, even just for a short distance," Wang said.
Opened in 1999, the Shanghai Rehabilitation and Vocational Training Center for the Disabled specializes in medical, educational, engineering, and vocational rehabilitation for the disabled.
Feeling timid and afraid of the strange new environment at first, Wang's son now very much likes the therapists at the center.
"The therapists here work very hard, since they provide training to children with cerebral palsy one at a time from dawn to dusk. The children have a busy day as well. My son spends his day either having meals or training," Wang said.
The hard work has paid off. Her son has learned by heart many lines of a nursery rhyme and Chinese poem, as well as addition and subtraction.
Largely satisfied with the results of the rehabilitation, Wang said she was thinking about sending her son to a regular primary school next year.
According to Xu Shenglin, the center's vice director, the center treats children suffering from cerebral palsy or autism with a combination of therapies such as acupuncture, massage and sports, and every child with cerebral palsy is treated in a one-on-one rehabilitation program which has an effective rate of 95 percent.
The center also runs a course for parents of children with cerebral palsy to teach them about home rehabilitation.
Monthly fees for each child with cerebral palsy at the center is 3,000 yuan ($495), with 60 percent covered by health insurance. Families with children with cerebral palsy receive an annual subsidy of 10,000 yuan from the Shanghai municipal government.
In Shanghai, the economic center of China, there are 942,000 disabled people, accounting for 5.29 of the city's population. The city's government has spent about 4.4 billion yuan in aid programs for the disabled since 2007, which has helped set up over 2,000 aid institutions and allows 100,000 disabled people to receive subsistence and other kinds of government subsidies.
Under a program that offers health and medical services at home, some 130,000 disabled people have received basic rehabilitation services and 160,000 have received health check-up service.
The government in Shanghai has also financed at-home care for 15,000 unemployed and severely disabled people who are not committed to any institutions or do not receive any subsidy for day care.
In China, the rights of the disabled have always been a priority of the government. A national human rights action plan for 2009 and 2010 specifies targets about guaranteeing the rights of the disabled.
The Chinese government's efforts to guarantee these rights are evident at the ongoing Shanghai World Expo. Some 1.86 million people have visited the first-ever pavilion dedicated to the disabled in the history of the World Expo, as of the middle of October.
"The number of visitors far surpassed our expectations. I think this shows more and more people have concern for the disabled," said Cao Ziping, the director of the pavilion.
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