What is Cerebral palsy

So what is Cerebral palsy? Well, I thought that it meant that you were severely disabled in a wheel chair….. I also thought that you had to have intellectual  impairment as well.. How wrong I was… The day we got Cayla’s diagnose I went home and straight away hoped online to do some reasearch. I know, I’ve heard it from so many people now, I shouldn’t read ‘stuff’ online as you don’t really know if it’s accurate. However, I searched for Cerebral palsy in Perth and came across The Centre for Cerebral Palsy’s (TCCP) website. This is a great website with lots of useful information and even though my head was full of a million things there were a few bits of info that I could take in and pass on to my husband and friends and family.

  •  The word cerebral means something to do with the brain (cerebrum). Palsy means a weakness or problems in moving the body.
  • Cerebral Palsy is the most common physical disability in childhood. It is a permanent physical condition that affects movement. In Australia, it is estimated that a child is born with CP every 15 hours.
  • Cerebral Palsy is not a disease, it is not contagious and there is no known genetic link.
  • CP results from damage to the developing brain before or during birth, or early in life. Babies most at risk of CP are those born prematurely or with low birth weight.
  • CP, except in its mildest forms, can be seen in the first 12-18 months of life. The condition presents when children fail to reach movement milestones.
  • There is no known cure, and no specific pre-birth test.
  • CP can be as mild as just a weakness in one hand ranging to almost complete lack of movement. Although it is a lifelong disability, much can be done to reduce its impact.
  • It is important for children to receive support from an early age to ensure they have every opportunity to reach their full potential. The right therapy and equipment can make all the difference.
  • Some people with CP also have vision, hearing, speech or intellectual impairment. Ongoing research is vital for the management of CP.

There are a number of different types of cerebral palsy, which are grouped into categories:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy – this is the most common form and occurs where the muscles are tight and stiff making movement difficult.
  • Athetoid cerebral palsy – people with athetoid cerebral palsy often have very weak muscles and feel floppy when carried. Involves unpredictable movements.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy – this is the least common form and involves shaky, unsteady movements and can also cause problems with balance.
  • Mixed types – many people do not have just one type but a mixture of several of the above types of cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy affects the body differently from one person to another. Certain words are used to describe the parts of the body that are affected:

  • Hemiplegia: affects the leg and arm on one side of the body
  • Diplegia: affects both legs and arms but legs are significantly more affected than the arms.
  • Quadriplegia: affects both arms and legs and can affect muscles in the trunk, mouth and face.

So although it’s still scary with the unknown I understand more about Cerebral palsy now and know that there is a lot that we will be able to do for Cayla. As soon as she is accepted by TCCP she will be allocated a team of therapists consisting of a physio therapist, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, social worker and a contact person. This is called the Early Intervention Programme (EIP) and is aimed for children 0-6 years.

A great place to learn more is here: http://www.tccp.com.au/docs/documents/PARENT%20PERSPECTIVES.pdf