Cerebral Palsy is usually something you’re born with
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.
CP is the most common physical disability in children. 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
CP is a permanent condition, but it does not progress i.e. gradually get worse like other conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis or Motor Neurone Disease. However, this doesn’t mean CP is a ‘static’ condition that never changes. CP affects the muscles and joints and growing up and growing older with CP can change a person’s physical abilities over time. Everyone experiences primary ageing (the slow deterioration of the body over time), those with CP are also likely to experience accelerated secondary ageing due to the effects of living with a lifelong musculoskeletal disuse and overuse. Ageing with CP means you can encounter pain, osteoarthritis, muscle tightness, joint problems, urinary tract problems and fatigue in adulthood and old age.
No two people will experience cerebral palsy in the same way
You can read in these inspiring real-life stories that Cerebral Palsy affects everyone in very different ways. Motor impairment in some children born with CP is barely noticeable, for others it is more profound. However, with the right help and support, everyone should be able to live life to the very limit of their capabilities. (And throw in a few surprises along the way.)