What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral means ‘of the brain’, and Palsy means a complete or partial loss of the ability to move a body part. Put these two words together and you have the name for a physical disability in which movement, posture and motor control are affected.  In fact, Cerebral Palsy (CP) is the term for a group of disorders, all of which are caused when the parts of the brain controlling those movements don’t work as they should.

In most cases, the brain damage or faulty development occurs during pregnancy. In a small number of cases it occurs in the infant brain during or shortly after birth.

In Scotland, around 150 children are diagnosed every year. The impact it’s likely to have on a child’s life depends on the type of cerebral palsy they have, the area of the body affected, and the severity of the condition.

Cerebral Palsy is not progressive

It is a permanent condition, but unlike some other conditions affecting the muscles and the brain, it doesn’t progress i.e. get any worse. What sometimes happens, is that a child or adult’s physical ability to deal with different activities might change over time. For example, stiffness in the muscles experienced with spastic cerebral palsy might lead to a joint becoming stuck. (Something physiotherapy will aim to prevent.)

No two people will experience cerebral palsy in the same way

You can see from these inspiring real life experiences that cerebral palsy affects everyone in very different ways. For some children their motor impairment is barely noticeable, for others it is more profound. With the right help and support, all children can live life to the limit of their capabilities. (And throw in a few surprises along the way.)

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