Cerebral palsy is defined as a persistent condition marked by impaired muscle coordination (spastic paralysis) and/or other disabilities, typically caused by damage to the brain before or at birth. Around 1 in 400 people in the UK are affected by cerebral palsy. The life expectancy of a sufferer is not usually affected and this condition does not deteriorate with age.
The causes of cerebral palsy are due to:
- bleeding in the brain of the foetus
- an infection caught by the mother during the pregnancy/or trauma in development in the womb
- a mutation in the foetus’ brain that alters brain development/ irregular brain development
- a premature birth (around 40% of children with cerebral palsy are born prematurely)
- muscle stiffness/floppiness
- muscle weakness
- random and controlled body movements
- balance and coordination problems
- communication difficulties
The severity of this condition ranges from mild to extremely severe and these symptoms differ greatly from person to person.
There are five types of cerebral palsy;
- Spastic, which involves the tension and contraction of muscles, this is the most common form.
- Athetoid is affiliated by a constant, uncontrolled movement of limbs, head and the eyes.
- Ataxic is related to a poor sense of balance, resulting in falls and stumbles.
- A tremor is an uncontrollable shaking of the body, which interferes with coordination.
- Lastly, rigidity is linked to tight muscles that resist the effort to make them move.
Currently there is no cure for this condition, however treatments such as occupational therapy, speech therapists and physiotherapy are available to help improve the quality of life for the sufferer.
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