Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a disorder in which abnormalities or damage in a baby's brain during infancy or early childhood permanently affects body movement and muscle coordination. Cerebral refers to the brain, and palsy refers to physical disorders.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a movement disorder caused by damage to the brain before, during or soon after birth. The ability for people with CP to communicate effectively is often impaired by problems with speech and also gestures usually used in communication. Speech and language therapy aims to help people with CP maximize their communication skills. This can include ways of enhancing natural forms of communication, introducing aids such as symbol charts or devices with synthetic speech, and training communication partners.
Between one-third and one-half of all children with CP have seizures, and are mentally retarded, having learning disabilities and problems seeing, hearing or speaking.
CP is one of the most common types of a long-lasting childhood disability: About 8,000 infants and 1.500 young children are diagnosed with the disease each year. The United Cerebral Palsy Association estimates that more than 750,000 Americans have CP.
Many causes of CP are still unknown. What is known, though is that CP can be caused by damage to a baby's brain while the brain is developing - either when the baby is in the womb, while they are being born or after birth.
Here are some examples of things that are known to be causes of CP:
If a child has CP, they will usually start to show signs of the disease before they reach the age of three. Regardless of age, if you see these signs in your child, you should contact your doctor immediately:
Eating and digestive symptoms include:
There is no "test" for CP, but a doctor can tell whether a child has the disease by looking over the child's medical records and doing a physical and neurological exam. Sometimes, they also have to use brain imaging (MRI, CT, and ultrasound) to evaluate the child's brain, or take fluid samples from the child and test them in a lab. The more serious a child's case of CP is, the easier it is for a doctor to diagnose it. Most children with CP are diagnosed by the age of one, but some with less serious cases are not diagnosed until the age of three or four.
Some possible tests your doctor may order include:
CP cannot be cured, but it can be treated so that a person with the disease can use their muscles, do more on their own and improve the quality of their life. Treatment is based on a person's symptoms.
Here are some examples of treatments for CP:
In an attempt to prevent or reduce the risk of CP, one should get proper prenatal care by frequently seeing their obstetrician. However, the disorder may not be preventable.
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