Cerebral palsy (CP) is a term used to describe a group of disorders affecting body movement and muscle coordination.
- Cerebral = "of the brain"
- Palsy = "lack of muscle control"
Development of the brain starts in early pregnancy and continues until early childhood. Damage to the brain during this time may result in CP.
This damage interferes with messages from the brain to the body, and from the body to the brain.
The way CP affects each child varies widely, depending on where the brain was damaged and the severity of the damage.
MOVEMENT AND COORDINATION DIFFICULTY:
- Delays in reaching motor skills milestones, such as pushing up on arms, rolling, sitting up alone or crawling
- Favouring one side of the body - such as reaching with only one hand or dragging a leg while crawling
- Difficulty walking, such as walking on toes, a crouched gait, a scissors-like gait with knees crossing or a wide gait
- Excessive drooling or problems with swallowing
- Difficulty with sucking or eating
- Delays in speech development or difficulty speaking
- Difficulty with precise motions, such as picking up a crayon or spoon
- Variations in muscle tone, such as being either too stiff or too floppy
- Stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity)
- Lack of muscle coordination
- Tremors, involuntary movements or writhing movements
- Abnormal perception & sensation
- Associated problems with hearing and vision
Children and adults with cerebral palsy require long-term care with a multi-disciplinary medical care team.
This team may include:
- Paediatrician or Paediatric Neurologist
- Orthopaedic surgeon
- Occupational Therapist
- Speech Therapist
- Social worker
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