WHAT IS Cerebral palsy?
WHAT IS CEREBRAL PALSY?
Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella-like term used to describe a variety of disorders that affect a child’s ability to move and to maintain posture and balance. These disorders are caused by a brain injury that occurs before birth, during birth, or within the first few years after birth. The injury does not damage the child’s muscles or the nerves connecting them to the spinal cord – only the brain’s ability to control the muscles. Depending on its location and severity, the brain injury that causes a child’s movement disorders may also cause other problems. These problems include mental retardation, seizures, language disorders, learning disabilities, and vision and hearing problems.
Because cerebral palsy influences the way children develop, it is known as a developmental disability. About two children out of every thousand born in this country have some type of cerebral palsy. In the United States, about 5,000 infants and toddlers and 1,200-1,500 preschoolers are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year. In all, approximately 500,000 people in this country have some degree of cerebral palsy.
Cerebral Palsy may be classified either by the type of movement problem (spastic, athetoid, or hypotonic) or by the body parts involved (legs only, one arm and one leg, or all four limbs). Motor ability and coordination vary greatly from one child to another.
IS THERE ANY TREATMENT?
There is no standard therapy that works for all patients. Drugs can be used to control seizures and muscle spasms, special braces can compensate for muscle imbalance. Surgery, mechanical aids to help overcome impairments, counseling for emotional and psychological needs, and physical, occupational, speech, and behavioral therapy may be employed.
If a child is under three, children should receive early intervention services. Early intervention services are intended to minimize the effects of any neurological conditions that might make it harder for an infant or toddler to learn and acquire developmental skills. These services are provided by a variety of professionals, including medical specialists, education specialists, occupational and physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, nutritionists, audiologists, and social workers.
WHAT IS THE PROGNOSIS?
At this time, cerebral palsy cannot be cured, but due to medical research, many patients can enjoy near-normal lives if their neurological problems are properly managed.
Cerebral Palsy: A Complete Guide for Caregiving by Freeman Miller and Steve J. Bachrach
Children with Cerebral Palsy: A Parents Guide, Edited by Elaine Geralis