Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a condition that affects thousands of people each year. An estimated 764,000 children and adults are afflicted with one or more symptoms of CP. Around 8,000 infants and babies are diagnosed each year and 1,200-1,500 preschool age children are recognized with symptoms of CP (www.ucp.org). This condition is caused by “abnormal development of areas of the brain that control movement and posture” (www.ucp.org). It can also be caused by damage to the brain (usually because of head injury during the birthing process) or diseases/infections the mother has during pregnancy such as German measles, rubella, bacterial meningitis, or viral encephalitis. Other risk factors may be the loss of too much oxygen during birth and low birth weight. CP is usually present at birth, but it might not be detected or visually apparent until the child is a few months old. “Ten percent of children who have CP acquire the disorder after birth” (www.ucp.org). This acquired CP is usually caused by brain damage that occurs while the child is a few months old. A car accident or child abuse could be a factor in causing CP in a child that is a few months old.
Doctors today classify CP into three categories. The most commonly diagnosed CP in children is called spastic cerebral palsy. This mean the child cannot control or relax his or her muscles. This affects “70-80% of patients” (www.ucp.org). The muscles seem stiff and cannot be relaxed voluntarily. Subcategories of this type are defined by how much of the body is affected. In diplegia both of the legs are affected; in hemiplegia only one side of the body is affected. Finally the most common form of spastic CP is quadriplegia in which the entire body is affected.
Another form of CP, called athetoid or dyskinetic affects about 10-20% of patients (www.ucp.org). The characteristics of this form include uncontrolled, slow movements that affect the patient’s hands, feet, arms and legs. It can also...
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