Mira Desai ’22 Combats Cerebral Palsy


Melissa Brown, Reporter


From across the atrium, the sound of wheels rolling across linoleum tiles can be heard over the teenagers’ chatter. Pushing her bright blue walker and trying to get through the clusters of high schoolers walks Mira Desai ‘22, on her way to her Biology class.

Desai has cerebral palsy, a condition which affects motor skills and as a result necessitates the use of a walker. She goes to physical and occupational therapy twice a week to help strengthen her core and her walk, and to help her be able to live on her own one day.

Despite having a condition that limits her movement, Desai leads a fairly normal life. She loves to read and sing. Her dad drops her off at school in the morning, she takes the elevator to get to science and her other classes on the second floor, heads to the cafeteria to have lunch with her friends, goes back to class, and then goes home to do school work. The same schedule as hundreds of other students.

“It’s not like I stay at home and do nothing all day,” Desai said. “I go to school, hang out with my friends, everything everyone else does.”

Desai even manages to find a bright side to having cerebral palsy.

“I get extra time on assignments, which is great for while I’m in school,” Desai said. “Also, handicap parking is the best, you’re like ten feet from the curb.”

She’s also really close with both of her therapists. Desai has known them since she was three years old, and as a result, she says that her therapy sessions aren’t ever awkward.

“We know a lot about each other so we’re able to ask each other questions about random things that are going on in our lives,” Desai said.

Of course, there have been negative impacts that cerebral palsy has had on her life.

“I can’t do any chores, which sounds great, but it means that when I start living alone, I won’t be able to do anything,” Desai said. “I also can’t run or sprint. Stuff takes a long time to do.”

One of the biggest downsides that comes from regularly using a walker she says, are the stares.

“One time I was in India and this lady came up to my mom and was, like, ‘Is your daughter okay?’ and asked what was wrong with me,” Desai said. “That was really weird and uncomfortable.”  

Although most of the time people just stare, similar incidents have happened here at school as well.

“Somebody asked me in a bathroom how I change my clothes without using the walker,” Desai said. “She was just being curious, but it was still kind of awkward.”

Regardless of the unfavorable effects of cerebral palsy, Desai tries not to let it impact her too much.

“I don’t let anything stop me, it’s sort of like this is just a thing that happens to be here, and it’s not going to change,” Desai said. “If I just went around being all morose and upset, then nothing would ever get better.”