What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy or (CP) as it is more commonly known, is an umbrella term encompassing a group of non-progressive, non-contagious diseases that cause physical disability in human development.

Cerebral refers to the affected area of the brain, the cerebrum (however the centers have not been perfectly localised and the disease most likely involves connections between the cortex and other parts of the brain such as the cerebellum) and palsy refers to disorder of movement.
The incidence of cerebral palsy is about 2 per 1000 live births. The incidence is higher in males than in females.

All types of CP are characterised by abnormal muscle tone, posture (i.e. slouching over while sitting), reflexes, or motor development and coordination. There can be joint and bone deformities and contractures (permanently fixed, tight muscles and joints). The classical symptoms are spasticity, spasms, other involuntary movements (e.g. facial gestures), unsteady gait, problems with balance, and/or soft tissue findings consisting largely of decreased muscle mass.

Babies born with severe CP often have an irregular posture; their bodies may be either very floppy or very stiff. Birth defects, such as spinal curvature, a small jawbone, or a small head sometimes occur along with CP. Symptoms may appear, change, or become more severe as a child gets older. Some babies born with CP do not show obvious signs right away.

There is no known cure for CP. Medical intervention is limited to the treatment and prevention of complications possible from CP’s consequences.

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