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- Cerebral Palsy is the general term applied to a group of permanently disabling symptoms resulting from damage to the developing brain that may occur during fetal development, near, during or after birth, and results in loss or impairment of control over voluntary muscles characterized by loss of movement or loss of other nerve functions.
- Cerebral Palsy may be a developmental disability.
- Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive disorder (symptoms directly resulting from the injury do not worsen) of movement and posture which results from damage to the nervous system.
- Cerebral Palsy is not an illness or a disease, nor is it contagious.
- Tutorial for Cerebral Palsy
The University of Virginia Children's Hospital offers a very simple, concise, in layman terms, definitions of the various types of Cerebral Palsy, causes, and effects with examples for what each effect means.
- Injury to the cerebrum (the largest portion of the brain, which is involved with higher mental faculties, sensations, and voluntary muscle activities) during fetal development.
- Injury can also occur from illnesses or head injury.
- Wide ranges of types and severities:
- Hemiplegia - one side of impairment -arm and leg.
- Diplegia -parts of both sides impaired - four limbs, legs affected more.
- Quadriplegia - all four extremities.
- Parpalegia - two limbs different sides.
- Six different forms: Spastic, Atheoid, Ataxic, Atonia, Rigidity, and Tremor.
- Loss of control of voluntary muscles.
- The part of the brain injured/damaged decides what disabilities occur.
- "The effects of cerebral palsy vary widely from individual to individual. At its mildest, cerebral palsy may result in a slight awkwardness of movement or hand control. At its most severe, CP may result in virtually no muscle control, profoundly affecting movement and speech. Depending on which areas of the brain have been damaged, one or more of the following may occur: (1) muscle tightness or spasms (2) involuntary movement (3) difficulty with "gross motor skills" such as walking or running (4) difficulty with "fine motor skills" such as writing or doing up buttons (5) difficulty in perception and sensation" From the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy (OFCP)
- Cerebral Palsy sometimes can be accompanied by other disabilities (speech, vision, epilepsy, gait, balance, coordination, hearing and sensation).
- Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disorder.
- Severe cases require assistance in daily activities: feeding, dressing, bathing and toileting.
- Areas of the brain which define a persons intelligence are not affected by Cerebral Palsy. If however, there has also been additional trauma to the areas of the brain that affect cognitive development, then cognitive ability may be impaired in addition to the Cerebral Palsy.
- Cerebral palsy does not affect expected length of life.
Cerebral Palsy can cause multiple disabilities as listed above. The complexity of the consequences makes Cerebral Palsy a complicated disability. The following are just some of the complications due to the involuntary movement of Cerebral Palsy.
- Injuries from falls
- Reduced mobility
- Reduced communication skills
- Social stigmatization
- -2.5 to 6 per 1000 births.
- Most common of all nonprogressive disabilities.
People are more alike than they are different.
- Identify and develop an appreciation for each persons strengths and accomplishments.
- Become aware of the affect on daily activities.
- There is no correlation between physical disability and aptitude. People with Cerebral Palsy may lead normal lives.
- Although one may have an impairment, one may not have a disability (have difficulty performing a daily living task) or may not be handicapped (because of disability, unable to achieve normal role in society).
- People with Cerebral Palsy experience social stigma associated with the involuntary movement of Cerebral Palsy.
Visit our NHU Community Forum on Cerebral Palsy for more insights, awareness, viewpoints, experiences, needs and solutions.
Needs and Solutions
- As a parent, call your health care provider if symptoms of cerebral palsy develop in your newly born child, especially if you know that an injury occurred during birth or early infancy.
There is no known cure for Cerebral palsy. Therapy is centered on achieving increased independence for the person with Cerebral palsy at home, school and in the community:
- Treatment is guided by the symptoms exhibited and may include physical therapy, braces, appropriate glasses and hearing aids, medications, special education or appropriate schooling, and, in severe cases, long-term care may be required.
- Augmentative communication and the use of a computer for communication and school work.
- Occupational Therapy improves hand function, perceptual motor skills and other activities of daily living. Appropriat adaptive devices.
- Splinting needs, positioning equipment and home modifications.
- Physical Therapy evaluation of motor development, functional mobility, and appropriate equipment; developmental stimulation; gait/mobility training; immediate post-operative management, family education and theraputic pool facilities.
- Crutches, walker, braces, arm slings, seating or wheelchairs.
- Feeding and swallowing disorders.
- Speech and audiological therapy.
- Assessment of spasticity which considers such things as positioning, surgical procedures such as dorsal rhizotomy and muscle surgery and medicines such as intrathecal Baclofen and Botox.
- Orthotics makes braces based on the individual person's needs.
- Rehabilitation Services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and neuropsychology, for people who require this level of care as well as exercise, hygiene, education, training, and vocational rehabilitation.
- If you have not been evaluated for using adaptive computer technology, the Tech Act Center in your state may be a good place to start. The RESNA TA Project provides information to individuals and programs about adaptive technology devices. To find the location in your state, contact the RESNA TA Project, 1101 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 7000, Washington DC 20036, phone (202) 857-1140 or fax (202)223-4579.
- Mainstreaming in regular schools is advised unless physical disabilities or mental development makes this impossible. Glasses, hearing aids, or other equipment must be designed specifically for the particular disabilities and may assist with communication and learning. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, orthopedic intervention, or other treatments may be appropriate.
- Medications may include muscle relaxants to reduce tremors and spasticity, and anticonvulsants to prevent or reduce the frequency of seizures.
- Surgery may be needed in some cases to release joint contractures, a progressive problem associated with spasticity. Surgery may also be necessary for placement of feeding tubes and to control gastroesophageal reflux. Recently, the use of botulinum toxin injections has been show to reduce or delay the need for surgery.
- The majority of cerebral palsy patients will run into residence and healthcare issues at some point in their lifetime, whether during their youth or in their adult years. A large number of cerebral palsy patients are placed in hospitals as children because their families lacked the resources to support them. Some have been stuck in these hospitals for longer than they feel necessary. As a patient becomes older, the need for a residence outside the hospital becomes more and more important. The need for an increase of cerebral palsy residential homes is unmistakable, and past due.
Often children with cerebral palsy are in need of adaptive equipment to increase independence. Some equipment necessary such as a wheelchair or walker will help aid a child with cerebral palsy with mobilization. Mobility is key for independence.
Many times children with cerebral palsy suffer and have a difficult time using their fine motor skills, making things such as eating utensils, and writing material difficult to manage. Being able to feed one’s self shows independence. Having utensils and writing material equipped with special grips or handles, handles with bends or curves make it easier to grip and hold onto utensils or tools.
Many times it is difficult to understand what a child with cerebral palsy maybe saying, limit their ability in communication. There are many adaptive tools to help keep conversation and communication very smooth. Some of these tools may include a book, or computer. With technologies’ recent advancement with the app era, many communication tools can be provided on your phone or an Ipad.
For more information on apps for children with special needs visit Moms with Apps.
- Adequate prenatal care may reduce the risk of some rare causes of cerebral palsy. However, dramatic improvements over the last 15 years in obstetrical care at delivery has not reduced the incidence of cerebral palsy. In most cases, the injury causing the disorder may not be preventable.
- Pregnant mothers with various medical conditions may need to be followed in a high risk prenatal clinic.