Cerebral Palsy

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a type of disorder that has control of movement due to damage in the brain. This disorder usually develops around the ages of 2-3 and is a non progressive brain disorder. This means that the damage to the brain cannot get worse over time. Cerebral Palsy palsy is one of the most common childhood disorders, about 10,000 infants are diagnosed each year. It is estimated that about 764,000 Americans have CP.

Identify which area(s) of the brain and nervous system is responsible for the disorder Is a specific neurotransmitter altered in the disorder?

CP affects the cerebrum which is the largest part of the brain. The part of the brain that is damaged is the cerebral motor cortex, which is at the back of the frontal lobe. What happens is an abnormality in the motor cortex which blocks the brain's ability to control movement and posture.

the origins and developments of the disorder (biological, genetic, environmental etc.)

Some people may think that Cerebral Palsy is a muscle condition, but it is really caused by damage to the cerebrum. The cerebrum is responsible for your ability to learn, communicate, and memory. Individuals with this disorder sometimes have trouble with communication and learning. In rare occasions, some infants have such damage in their cerebrum, that it affects their vision and hearing. Doctors have concluded that most cases of damage to the brain was caused before they born. (usually during the first six months of pregnancy)

How does this disorder affect one’s life on a day-to-day basis?

Many of the children with CP have different symptoms. Here are the most common: Poor motor control, shaking, muscle weakness, spasticity in arms or legs. Sometimes individuals are seen with stiff legs or clenched fists. There are also different types of spasticity that a child might have. Spastic diplegia is where the lower limbs are more involved than the upper. This usually affects children born before 32 weeks. Spastic quadriplegia is when all four limbs are equally involved. But, this affects children who are born closer to term. Last is spastic hemiplegia which is when only one side of the body is involved. Other symptoms include seizures, mental retardation, bowel and bladder problems, respiratory problems, and bone abnormalities.

Identify how a doctor diagnoses the disorder and prognosis

There is no exact test that can rule out cerebral palsy. It all depends on the person, but usually there is a diagnosis in the first two years of birth. For those with a not as severe case of CP, some doctors wait until the brain is fully developed. (3-5 years of age)

Are there any treatment options? Can it be cured or can symptoms be managed and how?

One of the treatment options is Therapeutic electrical stimulation (TES) which is an electrical stimulation used at night while the individual is sleeping. What this does is weaken the muscles and increase the blood flow so that why there can be growth to repair the tissue. This treatment takes about three-six months. The next treatment is Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) which involves cutting the sensory nerve fibers and enter the spinal cord. What happens is a five-six incision in the center of the lower back, to locate the abdominal portions of the nerve fiber. This allows the patients to have better balance, and not as many spasms. The last treatment is Baclofen which is a muscle relaxant. This is absorbed into the bloodstream and goes directly to the spinal cord.

Any studies/research being done on this disorder? Any organizations about the disorder?

United Cerebral Palsy- "provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. UCP works to advance the independence, productivity, and full citizenship of people with disabilities through an affiliate network that has helped millions" (UCP)

Stem cell research is being studied for a damaged brain cells to be fixed and/or replaced. "In an experiment conduced by neurologist Even Snyder at Harvard Medical School, mice were injected with stem cell implants. The results of the study indicated that missing cells were spontaneously replaced. While it is too early to know for certain if Snyder's results can be replicated in children with CP, scientists are hopeful. If they can find a surefire way to manipulate damaged brain cells to heal or replenish themselves, then conditions like cerebral palsy could be treated, or perhaps reversed."

Any additional information/facts/statistics

Population based studies show 1.5 more than 4 per 1,000 of children

About 1 in 323 children have been diagnosed with CP


“There are times during this journey that are so challenging and you may feel lost and discouraged. These are times when “showing up” for the day and having an open mind and a prayer on your breath are the best tools you have to work with. It’s very humbling and most of us parents have been there. May love and hope hold you until this time passes.”
-Michele Shusterman, mother of Maya, Founder of CP Daily Living

“Everyone goes through pain…whether it be emotional or physical. Whether or not you let that consume you, is what makes you a sufferer of pain.” -Dartania Emery, adult with CP

Charisse's Story- My Life Journey with Cerebral Palsy