March Is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

Posted Mar 15, 2018 - 2:26pm

To honor Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, you may see many people wearing green.

Why green? The color was chosen to reflect youthfulness and new growth, as well as hope for advancements in treatment and acceptance.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood, affecting body movement and muscle coordination.

CP is caused by abnormal development or damage to the parts of the brain that control movement, balance and posture.

In some cases, the cerebral motor cortex hasn’t developed normally during fetal growth. In others, the damage is a result of injury to the brain either before, during, or after birth. In either case, the damage is not repairable and the disabilities that result are permanent.

CP is the most common motor disorder and the second-most common disability found in children. Currently over 700,000 people lie with CP.

How is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?

Parent usually notice developmental delays early, although an official diagnosis may be delayed until age two or later.

According to the National Institutes of Health, early warning signs include:

  • In a Baby Younger Than 6 Months of Age
    • His head lags when you pick him up while he’s lying on his back
    • He feels stiff
    • He feels floppy
    • When you pick him up, his legs get stiff and they cross or scissor
  • In a Baby Older Than 6 Months of Age
    • She doesn’t roll over in either direction
    • She cannot bring her hands together
    • She has difficulty bringing her hands to her mouth
    • She reaches out with only one hand while keeping the other fisted
  • In a Baby Older Than 10 Months of Age
    • He crawls in a lopsided manner, pushing off with one hand and leg while dragging the opposite hand and leg
    • He cannot stand holding onto support

What are the Different Cerebral Palsy Diagnoses?

The specific forms of cerebral palsy are determined by the extent, type, and location of a child’s abnormalities. Doctors classify CP according to the type of movement disorder involved:

  • Spastic (stiff muscles)
  • Athetoid (writhing movements)
  • Ataxic (poor balance and coordination)

However, CP can’t fit into a one-size-fits-all box. There are several types of cerebral palsy, with many variations. No two people with the disability will have it in the exact same way.

How is Cerebral Palsy Treated?

There’s no cure for cerebral palsy. Some of those who have it use medications to help control muscles and relax. Physical, occupational, speech and water therapy are used to gain strength, be able to stretch, and improve overall quality of life.

About National Cerebral Palsy Month

CP was given its own month of observance in 2005, thanks to the efforts of many including Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Senator Robert Case of Pennsylvania.

The goals are to increase awareness:

  • Of what cerebral palsy actually is and for the critical need for cerebral palsy research funding for prevention, treatment and cure research.
  • That cerebral palsy is not a disease - it is the most common motor disability in children.
  • That the treatment protocol for CP has not really changed much in 50 years and it is time to change the therapeutic model for CP.
  • That we, the CP community, have the power to change all of these things by speaking up!
  • That there is a National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day and Month!

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