Looking for interesting facts about cerebral palsy?
Well, look no further because we’ve put together a list of 9 CP facts you should definitely know.
9 Interesting Facts About Cerebral Palsy
These facts will help you better understand what cerebral palsy is and how to manage it.
Let’s get started!
1) You Cannot Get Cerebral Palsy as an Adult
Cerebral palsy is a motor disability that is caused by damage to the brain before or during birth, or shortly after birth.
Milder forms of cerebral palsy may go unnoticed for a while until the child demonstrates developmental delays.
Any sort of motor disability than occurs in later childhood or adulthood is not considered cerebral palsy.
2) Cerebral Palsy Does Not Directly Affect Cognitive Function
Cerebral palsy is a motor disorder, meaning that it specifically affects movement.
Although 50% of individuals with cerebral palsy have a co-occurring intellectual disability, an intellectual disability is not caused by the same source of brain damage as the cerebral palsy.
Intellectual disabilities are considered associated conditions of cerebral palsy because they commonly co-occur but are not directly related.
3) Cerebral Palsy is Not Hereditary
Cerebral palsy is not hereditary, so the chances of an adult with cerebral palsy passing down the motor disability to their child is the same as an adult without cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is commonly caused by:
- bleeding in the brain
- premature birth
- traumatic injury to the head
4) Cerebral Palsy is the Most Common Childhood Motor Disability
Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term, meaning that it describes a lot of different conditions related to motor impairment.
This is one of the reasons why every case of cerebral palsy is unique and requires a personal management plan.
Other motor disabilities that can occur in childhood include muscular dystrophy and dyspraxia.
5) There are 4 Different Types of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy can be classified into 4 different types:
- Spastic (characterized by stiff movements and caused by damage to the motor cortex)
- Dyskinetic (characterized by uncontrollable movements and caused by damage to the basal ganglia)
- Ataxic (characterized by poor balance and coordination and caused by damage to the cerebellum)
- Mixed (a combination of 2 or more types of CP)
6) Individuals with Cerebral Palsy Can Improve Motor Functions
Cerebral palsy is a life-long condition, meaning that the damage to the brain does not go away.
However, the brain has neuroplasticity, which is its ability to rewire itself and reassign affected functions to undamaged areas of the brain.
Through intensive training that focuses on repetitions, individuals with cerebral palsy can promote neuroplasticity and improve their motor functions.
Early intervention is key to improving motor functions because children’s brains have greater levels of plasticity than adult brains.
7) Cerebral Palsy Can Affect the Face
Cerebral palsy can affect all areas of the body.
It can affect both sides (diplegia), just the legs (paraplegia), only one side (hemiplegia), all arms and legs (quadriplegia), or even just one limb (monoplegia).
Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that it can also affect your oral muscles, which impairs your ability to speak, chew, and swallow.
Just because someone with cerebral palsy that cannot speak because they can’t control their oral muscles (dysarthria) does not mean they can’t understand you.
Many individuals with dysarthria know exactly what they want to say back but are unable to and must rely on alternative methods of communication.
8) The Effects of Cerebral Palsy Can Worsen If Not Properly Managed
Cerebral palsy is not a degenerative disorder, and brain damage will not worsen over time.
However, effects of cerebral palsy like spasticity (continuously contracted muscles) can progressively worsen if left unmanaged.
Spasticity won’t stop just because the muscle is already contracted; it will only contract and impair movements even more.
Some of the best ways to manage cerebral palsy include:
- Physical Therapy (to stretch and strengthen muscles, and promote neuroplasticity through exercise)
- Occupational Therapy (to improve mobility through activities of daily living)
- Speech Therapy (to strengthen oral muscles, improve speech and language skills, or learn alternative communication methods)
- Medications (to relieve pain, regulate neurotransmitter levels, improve quality of sleep, reduce the occurrence of seizures, etc.)
- Botox injections (to block nerve signals that cause spasticity)
- Orthotics (to promote proper form and alignment)
9) Many People with Cerebral Palsy Can Walk
Although cerebral palsy almost always affects at least one leg, 2 in 3 people with CP are able to walk.
Assistive devices like walkers and crutches can help individuals with CP be more mobile, active, and independent.
The contracted muscle pulls the legs into a certain position, and because the muscle cannot relax, the movement appears unnatural and stiff.
Abnormal gait patterns can be improved through intensive physical therapy that focuses on:
- lengthening tight muscles to increase range of motion
- strengthening underused muscles to inhibit spastic muscles
- reducing the excitability of spastic muscles by exercising them
Cerebral Palsy Facts: Key Points
Every case of cerebral palsy is unique, and everyone will experience different motor impairments and associative conditions.
CP can be effectively managed, and motor functions can be improved because of neuroplasticity.
Hopefully, this article helped you better understand cerebral palsy and it’s potential for motor improvement.
Featured image: ©iStock.com/jarenwicklund