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What is cerebral palsy?


Cerebral palsy is defined by a number of neurological conditions, which usually develop in the brain of a baby when it is either very young, newly born or still in the womb. This abnormal development causes damage to the brain, leading to problems with movement, posture and coordination as the child grows up.

What causes it?

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to a part of the brain called the cerebrum, which controls the body’s muscles. The damage has a negative effect on the muscles and can inhibit their function.

In the past the condition was associated with problems during labour and birth, but now it is generally accepted these cause only around one in ten cases. Most cases occur due to damage to the brain before the child is born. This may occur due to:

What are the symptoms?

Cerebral palsy is divided into several different categories due to its varied symptoms. These include:

The cerebrum (the part of the brain that is damaged) also partly controls sight, hearing and communcation ability, so those suffering from cerebral palsy can sometimes also experience:

It has also been linked with other conditions, which sufferers often experience alongside cerebral palsy, such as Epilepsy, scoliosis and incontinence.

How is it treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for cerebral palsy, but there are many treatments and therapies available to manage the condition. The patient and his or her family usually work very closely with health professionals to find the best way to deal with it. Physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy can also play important roles. Medication is available to relax particularly stiff muscles and surgical procedures have been developed to help combat feeding and drooling problems.

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