cerebral; palsy; CP; brain; spastic; disability; therapy; weakness;
What is cerebral palsy?
The word cerebral means something to do with the brain (cerebrum). Palsy means a weakness or problems in moving the body.
People who have cerebral palsy have a type of brain damage which causes trouble controlling the movements of their body. There is no cure for cerebral palsy.
Some people with cerebral palsy also have trouble with thinking, but many can think well – it is their body movements they have problems with, not their mind.
of cerebral palsy
There are 3 types of cerebral palsy.
- The most common is Spastic (say spass-tik) - this is when the muscles are weak and stiff. Usually muscles work in pairs so that as one muscle contracts the other relaxes and this combination helps us to move around freely. In spastic cerebral palsy both lots of muscles contract so the person is unable to make controlled movements.
- Athetoid (say ath-uh-toid) - where the person's body moves in ways that the person is unable to control. This means their arms or legs may move suddenly when they don't want them to move.
- Ataxic (say a-tax-ik) - which causes shaky movement and affects the person’s ability to balance or coordinate movement. They can have problems with walking and writing for example.
can get cerebral palsy?
No one knows for certain how kids get cerebral palsy.
- For most kids with CP the problem in the brain happens before they are born.
- Sometimes it can happen if the baby is born way too early (premature) or is very sick after birth.
- Sometimes it can happen if a baby has a head injury in the first year or so after birth.
Doctors can usually tell if a kid has CP by the time he or she is 18 months old, sometimes much earlier.
There are over 33,000 people in Australia who have CP or some other similar condition.
of cerebral palsy
Some kids have mild cerebral palsy - they have trouble with control of some movements and may have trouble with writing and seem clumsy.
Others have much more severe problems.
- They may have trouble walking or need to be in a wheelchair.
- They may have problems talking.
- They may have problems keeping still when they want to.
- They may have problems playing like other kids.
- They may have problems feeding themselves or even eating.
- Some also have a lot of difficulty with thinking.
The damage to their brain won’t get any worse as the kid gets older but the problems with their body might get worse. For example their muscles might get so tight that their arms or legs stay bent all the time – they can no longer stretch them out.
can be done?
- Many kids with cerebral palsy are still able to go to regular school, join in games, use computers and many of the kinds of usual stuff that other kids do.
- Some kids may need to wear braces to help them walk or may need to be in a wheelchair to help them get around.
- Some kids may be in a special school where everything is set up to help them and they are taught and cared for by specially trained people.
- Kids with CP usually have regular physiotherapy (say fizz-ee-oh-the-rap-ee) to exercise their muscles and help their muscles to relax.
- Occupational therapists can help with finding ways for a kid to be able to do things. Some kids may need special equipment to help them in their daily lives – such as special chairs or special spoons to help them eat.
- They also often get speech therapy to help them talk.
- Sometimes a kid may have seizures and there is medication to help.
can kids do?
Friends and classmates can help a kid with CP by being a good friend, doing things which include everyone, and being kind, thoughtful and understanding.
Sometimes people are unkind when they are faced by something or someone different. People often tease or don't know what to say when they meet up with a disabled person. You may be able to help your friend cope with this.
There is a topic called 'Having a disabled child in the family' which might give you some ideas about how to help your friend.
A condition with her legs
She walks with her sticks.
My friend has CP
She walks with the aid of sticks
She beats her CP.
All of us are special and unique. Often we can be a bit worried or even scared if we come across someone who looks or acts in a different way to ourselves. Remember that on the inside we are all the same. We all need friends and we all need someone to care for us and about us.
After all, just look at our Paralympians and what they achieved despite having cerebral palsy.
- Peter Leek and Jacqueline Freney - swimming.
- Evan O'Hanlon and Lisa McIntosh - Athletics.
- Christopher Scott - cyclist.
- Rebecca McDonell - table tennis.
All the athletes in the Paralympics have some kind of disability but they have worked hard and have proudly represented their countries.
Finding out about our differences helps us to become more understanding and caring about each other.
You can find out more about our Paralympic athletes if you visit http://www.paralympic.org.au/athletes
We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.