What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy or CP is a group of disorders associated with developmental brain injuries that occur during fetal development, birth, or shortly after birth. It is characterized by a disruption of motor skills, with symptoms such as spasticity, paralysis, or seizures. Cerebral palsy is also known as static encephalopathy and Little's disease (which is strictly speaking only the "spastic diplegia" form of CP). It is no longer considered a disease, but rather it is a chronic
nonprogressive neurological disorder. The incidence is about 1.5 to 4 per 1000 live births. There is no cure, but therapy may be helpful. It has one of the highest lifetime costs of any birth defect.
The disorder is marked by several important signs. All persons with cerebral palsy developed it while the brain was under development. This limits the age at which the disorder can develop to at most 5 years old, however 80% of all cases occur before the baby reaches 1 month old. Secondly, it is a nonprogressive disorder, that is, once the damage to the brain is done no additional damage occurs. Cerebral palsy never worsens, though its symptoms may change with time. The disorder also never improves. It is a permanent disability which stays with a person their entire life. Any temporary problems would suggest a disorder other than cerebral palsy, which is why a reliable diagnosis of it can't occur until the child is four or five years old. Additionally, the disorder is characterized by disruption of the motor skills of the person. The severity in the loss of motor skills varies greatly from case to case. Lastly, even though there is a loss of motor skills, the muscles themselves are not defective. The problem lies solely in the brain's ability to control those otherwise healthy muscles.
The affected muscles of a person with CP may become rigid or excessively loose, or the person may lose control of muscles, or have problems with balance and coordination. A combination of these is also possible. The person may be primarily affected in the legs (paraplegia or diplegia), or in the arm and leg of one side of the body (hemiplegia), or all four limbs may be involved (quadriplegia). A person with CP may also be affected by a number of other problems, including seizure disorder, visual deficits, hearing problems, mental retardation, learning disabilities, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. None of these is necessarily part of CP, however, and a person with CP may have no other impairments except for the movement disorder.
Cerebral palsy affects approximately 500,000 children and adults in the United States, and is diagnosed in more than 6,000 newborns and young children each year. Cerebral palsy is not an inherited disorder, and as of yet there is no way to predict with certainty which children will develop it. It is not a disease, and is not communicable. CP is a nonprogressive disorder, which means that symptoms neither worsen nor improve over time. However manifestation of the symptoms may become more severe over time; for example, rigidity of muscles can lead to contractures and deformities that require a variety of interventions.
More information on cerebral palsy
What is cerebral palsy? - Cerebral palsy or CP is bilateral, symmetrical, nonprogressive paralysis resulting from developmental defects in brain or trauma at birth.
What're the types of cerebral palsy? - Cerebral palsy includes a variety of conditions. There are four main types of cerebral palsy - spastic, athetoid, ataxic, and mixed.
What's spastic cerebral palsy? - Spastic cerebral palsy is an abnormality of muscle tone in which one or more extremities (arm or leg) is held in a rigid posture.
What's ataxic cerebral palsy? - Children with ataxic cerebral palsy have difficulty making rapid or fine movements and walk unsteadily, with their legs widely spaced.
What's athetoid or dyskinetic cerebral palsy? - Athetoid or dyskinetic cerebral palsy is a mixture of muscle tone which is too tight or loose.
What's mixed cerebral palsy? - Mixed forms of cerebral palsy exist in that it is common for patients to have more than one form of cerebral palsy.
What causes cerebral palsy? - Cerebral palsy is a functional disorder caused by damage to the brain during pregnancy, delivery, or shortly after birth.
What're the risk factors for cerebral palsy? - Risk factors linked with cerebral palsy include infection, seizure disorder, thyroid disorder, birth defects, Rh factor incompatibility.
Influence of cerebral palsy on children's development? - Children with cerebral palsy have varying degrees of physical disability and may also have associated medical problems.
How is cerebral palsy diagnosed? - Cerebral palsy is difficult to diagnose during early infancy. Evidence of other risk factors may aid the diagnosis.
What's the treatment for cerebral palsy? - Comprehensive treatment of cerebral palsy requires a multidisciplinary team approach to help maximize and coordinate movement, minimize discomfort and pain.
Treatments for conditions associated with cerebral palsy? - Spasticity, muscle coordination, ataxia, and scoliosis are all significant impairments that affect the posture and mobility of a person with cerebral palsy.
Education programs for children with cerebral palsy - Children with cerebral palsy grow normally and attend regular schools if they do not have severe intellectual and physical disabilities.
Is a cerebral palsy lawyer/attorney necessary? - A experienced cerebral palsy lawyer or attoney may provide you some good advices in determining a course of action nd the best solution for the cerebral palsy treatment program.