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What is Cerebral Palsy?

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain before, during or after birth. Often the exact cause of cerebral palsy is not known, but contributing factors can include infections, lack of oxygen, meningitis and pressure or blows to the head. The severity of the cause will affect the significance of the damage caused to the brain. For example, the longer a child is deprived of oxygen during birth, the extent of brain damage likely to be caused is increased.

The cerebellum is the area of the brain that is damaged. The cerebrum is involved with voluntary movements of the muscles, the senses, cognition and communication. Cerebral Palsy affects posture, movement and coordination. Symptoms vary from mild to severe.

Cerebral palsy is a collective name for problems that can happen as a result of cerebellar damage. Approximately one in five hundred children have some degree of cerebral palsy. Some children have severe physical and muscular problems while others have slight learning difficulties. Most children with cerebral palsy have moderate physical and moderate cognitive difficulties. Not all children with cerebral palsy have learning difficulties.

The three main types of cerebral palsy are:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy ? increased muscle tone that affects the range of movement and the flexibility of the joints.
  • Athetoid cerebral palsy ? slow, writhing movements usually affecting the hands, feet, arms, or legs.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy - characterised by low muscle tone and reduced co-ordination of movement affecting all four limbs and the trunk.
Cerebral Palsy

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