What is cp?

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is not a disease or an illness. It is the description of a physical impairment that affects movement. The movement problems vary from barely noticeable to extremely severe. No two people with cp are the same; it is as individual as people themselves.
“Cerebral palsy” includes a variety of conditions.

How does it happen?

Cerebral palsy is most commonly the result of failure of a part of the brain to develop, either before birth or in early childhood. This is sometimes because of a blocked blood vessel, complications in labour, extreme prematurity or illness just after birth. Infections during pregnancy, or infancy and early childhood, eg meningitis or encephalitis, can also cause cp. Occasionally it is due to an inherited disorder; in such cases genetic counselling may be helpful.
It is sometimes possible to identify the cause of cp, but not always.

W hat are the effects?

The main effect of cp is difficulty in movement. Many people with cp are hardly affected, others have problems walking, feeding, talking or using their hands. Some people are unable to sit up without support and need constant enabling. Sometimes other parts of the brain are also affected, resulting in sight, hearing, perception and learning difficulties. Between a quarter and a third of children and adolescents, and about a tenth of adults, are also affected by epilepsy.
People with cp often have difficulty controlling their movement and facial expressions. This does not necessarily mean that their mental abilities are in any way impaired. Some are of higher than average intelligence, other people with cp have moderate or severe learning difficulties. Most, like most people without cp, are of average intelligence.

The prevalence of cp

Improvements in maternity services and neonatal care have meant that fewer babies develop cp as a result of lack of oxygen (from difficulties at birth) or jaundice, but they have also meant that more babies with very low birth weights survive. These babies are more likely to have cp. In recent years there has been a slight increase in the proportion of children who have cp; currently about one in every 400 is affected. Among these, the percentage of severely and multiply disabled people needing Scope’s support is growing. That need will continue throughout their lives.

Information Courtesy of Scope

For more information, call the
Cerebral Palsy Helpline
free on 0808 800 3333.

Or visit the website
www.scope.org.uk

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