Cerebral palsy is a condition caused by damage to the brain, usually occurring before, during, or shortly after birth. “Cerebral” refers to the brain and “palsy” to a disorder of movement or posture. It is not progressive. Prenatal causes of cerebral palsy include illness during pregnancy, premature delivery, and lack of oxygen supply to the baby caused by premature separation of the placenta, an awkward birth position, labor that goes on too long or is too abrupt, and interference with the umbilical cord. Other causes may be associated with , RH or A-B-O blood type incompatibility between parents, infection of the mother with viral diseases such as German measles in early pregnancy, and microorganisms that attack the newborn’s central nervous system. Causes of cerebral palsy after birth may be a result of an accident, viral infection, and child abuse. Depending on which part of the brain is damaged and the degree of involvement of the central nervous system, one or more of the following may occur: tonal problems, involuntary movement, spasms, problems with gait and mobility, seizures, impairment of sight, hearing and/or speech, and mental retardation. Early identification and intervention are vital. About 3,000 babies are born with this disorder each year.
There are 3 main types of cerebral palsy:
- spastic – stiff and difficult movement
- athetoid – involuntary and uncontrolled movement
- ataxic – disturbed sense of balance and depth perception
Many people with cerebral palsy may have a combination of these. This is referred to as mixed cerebral palsy.
Children with cerebral palsy may receive:
- physical therapy
- occupational therapy
- speech and language therapy alternative therapies
- medical intervention
- assistive technology
- early education