Overview of Cerebral Palsy
In cerebral palsy, faulty development or damage to motor areas in the brain impair the body's ability to control movement and posture. This results in a number of chronic neurological disorders. Cerebral palsy is usually associated with events that occur before or during birth, but may be acquired during the first few months or years of life as the result of head trauma or infection.
Cerebral palsy is neither contagious nor inherited, nor is it progressive. The symptoms of cerebral palsy (CP) differ from person to person and change as children and their nervous systems mature.
Some persons with severe CP are completely disabled and require lifelong care, while others display only slight awkwardness and need no special assistance. Complications associated with CP include learning disabilities, gastrointestinal dysfunction, tooth decay (dental caries), sensory deficits, and seizures.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy (CP) is classified as spastic, athetoid, ataxic, or mixed. These classifications reflect the type of movement disturbance displayed by the patient.
- Spastic CPstiff, permanently contracted muscles; 50% to 75% of cases
- Athetoid CP (also called dyskinetic cerebral palsy)slow, uncontrolled, writhing movements; 10% to 20% of cases
- Ataxic CPpoor coordination, balance, and depth perception; 5% to 10% of cases
- Mixed CPtwo or more types present; 10% of cases (percentage may be higher)
Incidence of Cerebral Palsy
Approximately 1 million people in the United States have CP. Improvements in prenatal, pediatric, and intensive care over the past 30 years have enabled more critically premature and frail babies to survive infancy. Many of these surviving children suffer developmental disorders and neurological damage.