Medical practitioners stress on the fact that cerebral palsy is not a disease and thus, should not be referred to as one. Join us as we learn more about this condition.
Cerebral palsy refers to a group of chronic conditions that affect body movement and muscle coordination. The condition, which is caused by damage to a specific area of the brain, most often occurs during fetal development during pregnancy.
Cerebral Palsy Facts and Statistics
Though it is not a progressive condition, the secondary conditions associated with it can get worse over time. One such condition is muscle spasticity, wherein certain muscles of the body are continuously signaled by the brain to tighten and contract. Although it is considered a non-curable condition in accepted sense, it is observed that training and therapy do help in improving it.
- The term cerebral palsy is derived from the combination of two words: cerebral, referring to the brain, and palsy, referring to muscle weakness or poor control of muscles.
- William Little, an English surgeon, mentioned about a puzzling condition which affected children in the initial years of their life, especially during infancy, way back in 1860s. The condition was characterized by stiffness and spasms in muscles of the legs and arms.
- In 1897, Austrian neurologist, Sigmund Freud noted that children having cerebral palsy were also vulnerable to problems like mental retardation and visual disturbances. He traced the roots of this condition to the development of the child’s brain in the womb.
- It is believed to be the second most common neurological impairment in children. Though it is not communicable, the number of people with cerebral palsy is high.
- According to United Cerebral Palsy (UPC), the number of people with this condition in the United States alone is approximately 800,000.
- Data compiled by the March of Dimes, a United States health charity organization, states that 2 – 3 of every 1000 children develop this condition.
- Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States revealed that every year around 10,000 babies develop cerebral palsy. Approximately 8000 to 10,000 babies are diagnosed with this condition annually.
- A study by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) revealed that 2/3 of children with this condition are vulnerable to mental impairment. Similarly, approximately 45% children are vulnerable to epilepsy.
- It was observed that the condition was developed due to brain injury during birth in approximately 20% of children who were diagnosed with congenital cerebral palsy.
- Spasticity of limbs is one of the most common disability in people with this condition. Other disabilities include motor disabilities like diplegia, hemiplegia, and quadriplegia.
- The risk of this condition increases 12 folds in twin pregnancy as compared to singleton pregnancy, which is attributed to factors like low birth weight and prematurity related to twins.
- Of the children with cerebral palsy, 84.5% receive physical therapy six times per month, 50% receive occupational therapy five times a month, and 37% receive speech therapy five times a month.
Cerebral palsy may not be curable, but there are some measures that can be taken to prevent it. During pregnancy, women have to go through routine Rh factor checks. If Rh is found to be negative, they have to be immunized within 72 hours from giving birth to prevent the problems associated with blood incompatibility in subsequent pregnancies.
Additionally, prevention of prematurity, reducing exposure to infectious virus and bacteria, avoiding too much exposure to x-rays and medication, control of diseases like diabetes and anemia, preventing nutritional deficiencies, etc., can also help in its prevention. Adequate prenatal care and protecting infants from injuries are some simple measures that need to be taken to keep cerebral palsy at bay.