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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Spina Bifida Series-Disabled Legend Jay Bradford Fowler

Jay Bradford Fowler was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 7 July, 1951. In 1987, he received a Bachelor of Arts in English at George Mason University where he was editor of Phoebe-The George Mason Review. He was born with spina bifida a congenital disease in which the spinal column does not close properly. Instead, part of the spinal cord protrudes, which can result in fluid on the brain or other neurological disorders. Fowler has paralysis below the waist. He could walk as a youngster, but he underwent eight operations by the time he was in high school. Fowler was also treated for degenerative arthritis throughout the 1990s.

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Spina Bifida Series-Disabled Legend Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was born on 6 July, 1907 and died on 13 July 1954. Frida was a Mexican painter, who has achieved great international popularity. She painted using vibrant colors in a style that was influenced by indigenous cultures of Mexico as well as European influences that include Realism, Symbolism, and Surrealism. Kahlo contracted polio at age six, which left her right leg looking thinner sometimes than the other (a deformity Kahlo hid by wearing long skirts). It has also been conjectured that she also suffered from spina bifida, a congenital disease that would have affected both spinal and leg development.

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Spina Bifida Series-Disabled Legend Snr. Hank Williams

Snr. Hank Williams, Hiram King Williams was born in 1923, in the small unincorporated town of Mount Olive, Georgiana, Alabama. He was named after Hiram I of Tyre, but his name was misspelled as “Hiriam” on his birth certificate. He was born with a mild undiagnosed case of spina bifida occulta, a disorder of the spinal column, which gave him life long pain, a factor in his later abuse of alcohol and drugs. Hank had tried to wrestle down his drinking problem, but career pressures, marital problems, and crippling spinal pain all contributed to make the binges more frequent during 1951. In December he agreed to be operated on, although the operation was not a success.

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What is Spina Bifida?

Spina Bifida is a developmental birth defect involving the neural tube, incomplete closure of the embryonic neural tube results in an incompletely formed spinal cord.

Spina bifida malformations fall into three categories: spina bifida occulta, spina bifida cystica (myelomeningocele), and meningocele. The most common location of the malformations is the lumbar and sacral areas of the spinal cord.

The most common location of the malformations is the lumbar and sacral areas of the spinal cord. The lumbar nerves control the muscles in the hip, leg, knee and foot, and help to keep the body erect.

There is no cure for nerve damage due to spina bifida. To prevent further damage of the nervous tissue and to prevent infection, pediatric neurosurgeons operate to close the opening on the back.

Neural tube defects can usually be detected during pregnancy by testing the mother’s blood (AFP screening) or a detailed fetal ultrasound. Spina bifida may be associated with other malformations as in dysmorphic syndromes, often resulting in spontaneous miscarriage.

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