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What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a childhood condition in which there is a motor disability (palsy) caused by a static, non-progressive lesion in the brain (cerebral). It is a motor disability related to early damage of the brain (usually defined as occurring in children that are less than 2 years of age), in areas controlling motor (movement) behaviours. Children with cerebral palsy have a condition that is stable and non-progressive.

Myths

  • Cerebral Palsy is contagious

Cerebral palsy is by no means contagious. It cannot be contracted as it is not a medium borne condition.

  • Children/ people with cerebral palsy are intellectually disabled

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder. It is primarily a problem with motor (movement) functions or behaviours. But, there is some level of cognitive impairment and intellectual disability that occurs with it; ranging from a mild to severe level.

  • A child with cerebral palsy has no hope of walking

Though some children with cerebral palsy may reach this milestone with difficulty, it is by no means a norm. Some may learn to walk with the help of mobility aids while others may not need to. In fact, some children with cerebral palsy that are not affected by it in the motor function of their legs do not experience difficulty walking.

  • Children/ people with cerebral palsy will perpetually be dependent

To some extent, children or people with cerebral palsy will need one form of special care or the other their entire lives through family and other support systems. However, there are many adults with cerebral palsy who have successfully been able to live independently by adopting strategies and coping mechanism which includes but are not limited to home modifications and use of assistive technology.

  • Children/ people with cerebral palsy should be home cared and schooled

Having cerebral palsy should not prevent your child from receiving a quality education. There are special schools that exist to help care for and teach children with special needs.

  • Cerebral is the same for everyone

Cerebral palsy is not the same for everyone i.e., there are different types of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term for a wide group of neurological disorders that involve different symptoms. There are four types of cerebral palsy:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy
  • Athethoid or Dyskinetic cerebral palsy
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy
  • Mixed cerebral palsy

FAQ

  • What causes Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain before, during or shortly after the birth of a child. It could also be due to a condition that affects the proper development of the brain via injury/head trauma, inflammation, infection, congenital conditions or lack of oxygen.

  • Will my child outgrow cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive disorder and often times do not worsen as a child grows. However, a child does not outgrow the condition, they may improve over time.

  • How do I prevent Cerebral Palsy?

Some causes of cerebral palsy can be prevented. For example, medication errors, maternal substance abuse and infections can reduce the risk of a child developing this disorder but other causes such as congenital heart defects and issues with blood clotting and distribution may not be so easy to prevent.

  • Is there any support we can get?

Yes. There are a number of non-governmental and private organizations that assist and provide a support system for individuals with cerebral palsy and their family.

  • How do I know if my child has a neurological disorder?

The most common marker is the difference in movement behaviour when compared with an older sibling or other children and the delay in reaching certain milestones before the age of 2. Although this might not be the case all the time as some children can skip some milestones, it is important to visit a specialist once this observation is made.

  • What predisposes a child to cerebral palsy?

There are certain factors that increase a child’s risk for cerebral palsy. They include:

  • premature birth and Low birth weight
  • Multiple births e.g., twins or triplets
  • Maternal health conditions such as seizures and thyroid disorders and infections
  • Head trauma and brain infections such as meningitis.
  • Can cerebral palsy be cured?

While there are many methods and means of management, there is no current cure for cerebral palsy. However, there are numerous promising research in neuroplasticity and regenerative medicine that may be the path to finding or developing a cure for cerebral palsy.