Many people who come to college have a physical disability liked this.
What is cerebral palsy?
This leaflet will help you to have a better understanding of the physical and medical aspects of cerebral palsy. We hope it will be a source of information to anyone who wishes to know more about the condition.
What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a term used to describe a disorder affecting body movement and muscle coordination. It is caused by damage to one of the parts of the developing brain which controls and organises a person's movement and posture. Because of this messages between the body and brain are ‘scrambled’.
No two people with CP will be affected in the same way. For some people the effects will be very mild. For others they can be severe or profound with many variations in between.
What are the causes of cerebral palsy?
The damage to the developing brain can happen before, during or after birth and is usually diagnosed before the age of three. Almost 50% of children with CP are born early. Small preterm (early) babies have vulnerable brains which may haemorhage (bleed heavily).
This is because of the immaturity of the developing brain and the vulnerability of the tissue in the brain.
Other causes include:
• the baby's brain not forming properly, often for no apparent reason
• lack of oxygen before, during or after birth or damage during delivery
• a genetic disorder which can be inherited (this is quite rare)
• an infection in the mother during the first few weeks of the baby's development in the womb
• an infection (e.g. meningitis) contracted after birth
• an accident, such as a car crash, causing head injury (This is known as acquiredCP)
• multiple birth
It is often not possible for doctors to give an exact reason why part of the baby's brain has been injured or failed to develop, as there may be no obvious single reason why a child has cerebral palsy.
Who can get cerebral palsy?
CP can happen in any family. It affects both sexes, although slightly more males than females have CP. Some risk factors are well-known, such as extreme prematurity, low birth weight and multiple births. The risk of CP is 5 times greater with twins and 18 times greater with triplets. However, it is not usually possible to say which children are most likely to have CP.
How many people have cerebral palsy?
CP affects approximately 1 in every 400 children (2.5 children in every 1000 live births in the UK). Today, more sophisticated medical care means that many more premature babies are now surviving. Over the last few years the number of people with CP who have profound and multiple difficulties has increased. There are no accurate figures available for the number of people with CP in Scotland, although figures are starting to emerge through the work of research groups in Scotland. Estimates put the number at around 15,000.
What are the different types of cerebral palsy?
There are three different systems within the brain involved in controlling movement.
Impairment can happen in one or more of these areas. The type of CP which results depends on which area of the brain is most affected.
There are three types of CP:
• Spastic cerebral palsy (spasticity)
Present in 75% to 88% of people with CP, which makes it the most common form of the condition. "Spastic" means "stiff" and people with this type of CP have tightness or stiffness and weakness in some muscles. This causes degrees of difficulty in moving the body, which may be mild or severe. People with spastic CP have a tendency to remain in certain positions and also to develop shortening of some muscles. This can sometimes limit the movement of joints.
• Dyskinetic cerebral palsy (dyskinesia)
Sometimes referred to as dystonic, Athetoid or coreoathetoid, CP.is present in about 15% of people.
People with dyskinetic cerebral palsy experience uncontrolled, involuntary sustained or intermittent muscle contractions as the tone of the muscle can change from floppy and loose (hypertonia) to tight with slow, rhythmic twisting movements. The whole body can be affected resulting in difficulties maintaining an upright position. Speech can be hard to understand as there may be difficulty controlling the tongue, breathing and vocal chords.
• Ataxic/hypertonic cerebral palsy (ataxia)
Present in about 4% of people with CP. They can experience problems with balance and coordination. This is due to difficulty in controlling movements of the trunk, head, legs and people with CP needs to eat more.
It is because people who have CP move around more arms. Ataxia affects the whole body and when walking, they will probably be very unsteady on their feet. People with ataxic CP are likely to have shaky hand movements and jerky speech.
Sometimes it may be difficult to know what kind of cerebral palsy a person has, as it can be a mixture of the above three, if more than one of the movement systems is impaired.
There are three commonly used descriptions of ways cerebral palsy affects different parts of the body:
• hemiplegic CP means that either the left or right side of the body is affected.
• diplegic CP affects mainly the legs (although
People who have CP can do things but it might take a little bit long.
To find more information on Communication Aids go to http://www.communicationmatters.org.uk