What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy is the name for a group of lifelong conditions that affect movement and co-ordination, caused by a problem with the brain that occurs before, during or soon after birth. About 1 in 400 children will have CP. Most CP symptoms are not obvious just after a baby is born and many children are diagnosed during their early years. Jack was diagnosed in January 2015, when he was 4 years old.
What are the symptoms of CP?
Symptoms of CP can include:
- delays in reaching development milestones – for example, not sitting by eight months or not walking by 18 months
- seeming too stiff or too floppy
- weak arms or legs
- fidgety, jerky or clumsy movements
- random, uncontrolled movements
- walking on tip-toes
- a range of other problems – such as swallowing difficulties, speaking problems, vision problems and learning disabilities
Symptom severity varies; some people are severely affected with others having minor problems.
Cerebral palsy can occur if a baby’s brain doesn’t develop normally while in the womb, or is damaged during or soon after birth.
What causes CP?
Causes of cerebral palsy include:
- bleeding in the baby’s brain or reduced blood and oxygen supply to their brain
- an infection caught by the mother during pregnancy
- the brain temporarily not getting enough oxygen (asphyxiation) during a difficult birth
- a serious head injury
But in many cases, the exact cause isn’t clear and that can be a difficult thing for parents to come to terms with.
What treatments are available?
There is currently no cure for CP but different types of therapy, depending on how the individual is affected, can help to manage symptoms. These therapies can include physiotherapy, speech therapy to help with communication and feeding difficulties, occupational therapy, medication for muscle stiffness and surgery for growth problems.
Currently Jacks team consists of;
- orthopaedic surgeons
- occupational therapist
- ENT specialist
- special needs health visitor
- Wheelchair services
- Incontinence service
The people involved in a child’s care will vary depending on the severity of their CP and will change as different issues crop up.
Scope is the main UK charity for people with cerebral palsy and their families. They offer:
- support and information for disabled people and their families
- a directory of services and support groups
- an online community
- a free telephone helpline on 0808 800 3333 (9am to 5pm, Mon-Fri)
- an email helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another charity doing wonderful things for children with CP is Bobath. Bobath Children’s Therapy Centre Wales provides physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy to children all over Wales who have cerebral palsy. Bobath therapists are state-registered and work together as a team to combine these disciplines to give each child the skills to explore their world, communicate their needs, maximise their potential and so improve their quality of life.