Cerebral Palsy

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy (Little’s disease or congenital spastic paralysis, CP) is a term used to describe a group of long-term conditions that affect body movement. It is caused by brain damage before or during birth or during infancy.

CP is not a disease in the usual sense of the word. It is not contagious nor progressive and there are no remissions. It can be considered part of a syndrome that includes motor dysfunction, psychological dysfunction, convulsions, or behaviour disorders due to organic damage. Some individuals show only one indication of brain damage, such as motor impairment; others may show combinations of symptoms.

There are four general types of cerebral palsy:

“Types of Cerebral Palsy”

  • Spastic – muscle tightness that limits the range of motion, with trouble holding or letting go of objects
  • Ataxic – disturbance in mobility causing poor coordination, unsteady movements, difficulty when attempting quick or precise movements, e.g. buttoning a shirt
  • Athetoid – involuntary movements in the hands, feet, arms or legs and in some cases in the muscles of the face and tongue, causing a twisting of the face, and drooling
  • Mixed – having more than one of the above mentioned symptoms

The usual definition of CP refers to a condition characterised by paralysis, weakness, incoordination, and/or other motor dysfunction due to brain damage. A very high proportion of CP children are found to have hearing impairments, visual impairment, perceptual disorders, speech defects, behaviour disorders, mental retardation, or some combination of several of these handicapping conditions in addition to motor disability.

They may also exhibit unpleasant characteristics such as drooling or facial contortions. Some CP children have normal or above average intellectual capacity, however, most of them are clearly lower than the average for normal children. Teaching of the CP therefore needs to have special equipment and facilities to cover the different areas of disability.

“Facts on Cerebral Palsy”

  • One of the most common causes of childhood physical impairment
  • Affects 1 in 500 children, and as many as 10 million children around the world
  • A majority of CP (85%–90%) is congenital and in many cases the specific cause is not known
  • A minority of CP (acquired CP) occurs more than 28 days after birth, and is caused by brain damage associated with an infection (such as meningitis) or head injury
  • Treatment of CP consists of active management from an early age

Source: CBM – Cerebral Palsy Fact Sheet

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