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What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions affecting body movements and muscle coordination. It is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during fetal development, or during infancy. It can also occur before, during or shortly following birth. “Cerebral” refers to the brain and “Palsy” to a disorder of movement or posture. If someone has cerebral palsy it means that because of an injury to their brain (cerebral) they are not able to use some of the muscles in their body in the normal way (palsy). Children with cerebral palsy may not be able to walk, talk, eat or play in the same ways as most other children. Cerebral palsy is neither progressive nor communicable. It is also not “curable” in the accepted sense, although education, therapy and applied technology can help persons with cerebral palsy lead productive lives. It is important to know that cerebral palsy is not a disease or illness. It isn’t contagious and it doesn’t get worse. Children who have cerebral palsy will have it all their lives.

Cerebral palsy is characterized by an inability to fully control motor function, particularly muscle control and coordination. Depending on which areas of the brain have been damaged, one or more of the following may occur:

muscle tightness or spasm

involuntary movement

disturbance in gait and mobility

abnormal sensation and perception

impairment of sight, hearing or speech

seizures

Featured Posts

  • What research is being done?

    National research programs are being vigorously pursued to prevent cerebral palsy and to improve the quality of life for persons with cerebral palsy. The two organizations with major research programs are the United Cerebral Palsy Research and Educational Foundation in the private sector and the National Institutes of Health in...

     
  • Treatments Available for Cerebral Palsy

    Following your child’s interdisciplinary assessment, the professionals providing care for your child will develop recommendations for his or her treatment. Many treatments are available to help a child function at the highest level possible. Although many treatments are available, we will touch upon a few of the most basic approaches...

     
  • How is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?

    When an infant or child has brain damage, a variety of symptoms can lead doctors and parents to suspect that something is wrong. In the first few months of life, an infant with brain damage may demonstrate some or all of the following symptoms: Lethargy, or lack of alertness Irritability...

     
  • Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy

    A risk factor is not a cause, it is a variable which, when present, increases the chance of something occurring. In other words, a risk factor for cerebral palsy is not a cause of cerebral palsy, it is a variable that could increase your child’s chances of developing cerebral palsy....

     
  • Can cerebral palsy be prevented?

    Yes, cerebral palsy can be prevented. Several measures of prevention are increasingly possible today. Pregnant women are tested routinely for the Rh factor and, if Rh negative, they can be immunized within 72 hours after the birth and thereby prevent adverse consequences of blood incompatibility in a subsequent pregnancy. If...

     
  • Did a medical mistake cause your child’s cerebral palsy?

    As mentioned earlier, medical mistakes are the cause of thousands and thousands of cerebral palsy cases. Doctors and hospitals make mistakes during delivery, and it these mistakes that could be the cause of your child’s cerebral palsy. The following are just a few of the mistakes made during delivery that...

     
  • What causes cerebral palsy?

    Why does your child have cerebral palsy? The simplest answer to this question is because your child has brain damage. This leads naturally into the second question: Why does your child have brain damage? There are many possible answers to this second question, because there are many reasons children can...

     
  • History of cerebral palsy

    Cerebral palsy is not a new disorder. There have probably been children with cerebral palsy as long as there have been children. But the medical profession did not begin to study cerebral palsy as a distinct medical condition until 1861. In that year, an English orthopedic surgeon, Dr. William John...

     
  • Types of cerebral palsy

    Cerebral palsy is a broad term which encompasses many different disorders of movement and posture. To describe particular types of movement disorders covered by the term, pediatricians, neurologists, and therapists use several classification systems and many labels. To understand different types of cerebral palsy more clearly, you must first understand...

     
  • Cerebral palsy Statistics

    Because cerebral palsy influences the way children develop, it is known as a developmental disability. In the United States today, more people have cerebral palsy than any other developmental disability, including Down syndrome, epilepsy, and autism. About two children out of every thousand born in this country have some type...