Simply put, Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a term used to describe a group of conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. It is not a disease. Medical dictionaries define CP as a “bilateral, symmetrical, non-progressive paralysis resulting from developmental defects in the brain or from trauma at birth.”CP can be as mild or severe. It depends on the individual and the type of CP they have.
Cerebral palsy is caused by either abnormal brain development, or damage to the developing brain in which it impacts the area of the brain that controls and coordinates muscular action. The brain damage that leads to CP can happen before, during, or after birth, or during the first years of a child’s life, while the brain is still developing.
In most cases, damage to the brain typically occurs during pregnancy, labour or shortly after birth. and that is known as congenital cerebral palsy. This is because they are related to the development and child-bearing processes. The condition is not inherited.
Acquired cerebral palsy typically occurs before two years of age, and is less common. This is usually caused by a head injury (motor vehicle accidents, falls, child abuse). CP can also be a result of a brain infection.
Cerebral palsy, except in its mildest forms, can be detected in the first 12-18 months of a child's life as it presents itself when children fail to reach movement milestones.
There are several different types of cerebral palsy which are grouped into three main categories:
Spastic Cerebral Palsy:
This is the most common form of cerebral palsy. Individuals with Spastic CP have an increase in muscle tone, which means that their muscles will be stiff and/or tight, making their movements somewhat awkward at times.
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy:
Individuals with this form of CP will have uncontrolled movements that occur. The uncontrolled movements can be slow or rapid, it totally depends on the person. People with dyskinetic CP typically have muscle tone that changes throughout the day, and changes daily as well.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy:
This is the least common form of CP. This refers to the shaky, unsteady movements that often cause problems with balance and coordination. Individuals might be unsteady when they walk, or they might have a harder time with quick movements/movements with a lot of control.
Many individuals will not have just one type of cerebral palsy, but rather a mixture of the three different types above. Regardless of the combination of symptoms, mixed CP is usually caused by head injury (motor vehicle accidents, falls, child abuse).
The affects of CP vary greatly from person to person because there are many different types, variations, and levels of CP. We generally use three different words to describe the parts of the body which are affected.
It affects the leg and the arm on one side of the body.
It affects both legs and arms, but the legs are significantly more affected than the arms.
It affects both arms and legs and can affect muscles in the trunk, mouth, and fac
Although this condition does not progress, the brain injury is permanent, which means that CP is not curable. Even though it is incurable, therapy and training can make a huge difference. In other words, there is no treatment for CP, but there is management. Management means helping an individual with CP reach their full potential in growth and development.
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