What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a condition that affects muscle control and movement. It is caused by damage to the immature brain before, during or after birth up to the age of 2 years. Sometimes the exact cause of Cerebral Palsy is unknown but there are some common contributing factors including; infection, lack of oxygen, meningitis, abnormal brain development, pressures or insult to the head. Cerebral Palsy affects the development of movement and posture which causes activity limitations. The motor disorders seen with Cerebral Palsy can also be accompanied by disturbances of sensation, cognition, communication, perception, and/or behaviour, and/or a seizure disorder. Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive condition meaning that the impairment/injury in the brain itself does not change but as the child grows and develops their clinical presentation may change.

Every patient with Cerebral Palsy is affected in a different way depending on the area of the brain that is affected. There are three main types of Cerebral Palsy and some people can have a mixture of all of these;

  • Spastic cerebral palsy – children with spastic cerebral palsy present with an abnormal increase in muscle tone and altered muscle control.
  • Athetoid/Dystonic cerebral palsy – children experience uncontrolled or involuntary movements as the muscle tone fluctuates between floppy/low tone (hypotonia) to tight/high tone (hypertonia).
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy – defined as the inability to activate the correct timing and pattern of muscle during movement. Balance and spatial awareness are also often affected with this type of cerebral palsy.

Cerebral Palsy can also be described by which parts of the body are affected;

  • Hemiplegia. This is the term used to describe when only one side of the body is affected.
  • Diplegia. This means that two limbs (more so the legs than the arms) are affected.
  • Quadriplegia. This means that all 4 limbs and the trunk are affected.

How can physiotherapy help your child?

The main aim of physiotherapy for children with Cerebral Palsy is to encourage normal patterns of movement rather than abnormal postures and movement. Following an in-depth assessment Gateway Physiotherapy can give you advice about how intervention can help. Regular physiotherapy can;

  • Promote development of motor skills
  • Increase mobility, for example, rolling, crawling, walking
  • Maintain and increase muscle flexibility
  • Increase muscle strength
  • Maintain postural alignment
  • Improve coordination and balance
  • Normalise altered muscle tone
  • Improve functional independence and quality of life
  • Support parents/carers to better understand the needs of your child including teaching you the most beneficial ways of positioning and handling

Gateway Physiotherapy can also offer essential therapeutic input to ensure your child reaches their maximum potential following medical interventions such as;

“At Gateway Physiotherapy we strive to support families to better understand the needs of your child and aim to teach you the most beneficial ways to help your child achieve their maximum potential”

Useful links

For infromation about cerebral palsy visit Scope. We have also included a link to their latest twitter feeds to keep you up to date.