Cerebral Palsy is a complex physical condition affecting a child’s posture, muscle tone and movement. It is caused by damage or failure of the brain to develop in the specific area that controls movement. It usually occurs at or immediately after birth or can occur following brain infections such as meningitis. It is estimated that 1 in every 400 babies are born with CP. It usually occurs at or immediately after birth or can occur following brain infections such as encephalitis or meningitis. It is not usually inherited and can occur in any family regardless of sex, race or social background.
The range of the effects is enormous. Some children will appear to have no obvious disability apart from perhaps a mild clumsiness, while other will be severely disabled. The type of disability depends on the area of the brain that has been damaged. Cerebral Palsy is not curable but it does not worsen as the child gets older but may become more apparent.
Anything which damages the growing brain can cause cerebral palsy. The following are some of the known reasons for this:
• Infections – especially rubella, toxoplasmosis and other viral infections
• Failure of the placenta to develop or function effectively
• Some drugs
• Prolonged or very difficult labour
• Head injuries
• Infections such as meningitis
• Brain tumours
Types of Cerebral Palsy
We have three main types of Cerebral Palsy.
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
This is the most common type of Cerebral Palsy, affecting 50 to 60 percent of all children. Damage occurs to the part of the brain concerned with thought movement and sensation similar to severe muscle cramp, in the joints when the person attempts to move. The muscles contract and block the movement. Areas affected are the arms and legs and can be quite painful. Usually the child’s legs will be less...