Cerebral Palsy is a term describing a number of chronic medical
conditions affecting both muscle coordination and body movements. This
is the result of damage to a number of regions of the brain, which
typically occurs during fetal development, birth, or infancy. These
symptoms are not related to any muscle or nerve damage. They are a
result of damage or problematic development of critical motor areas of
the brain which affect its ability to control movement.
Cerebral Palsy is a developmental condition, and by definition is not
progressive, that is, it cannot get worse during life. However, side
effects of this condition, such as muscle spasms, can change over time.
Cerebral Palsy is not considered a disease and is in no way
communicable. It is caused by permanent brain damage and cannot be
cured, although patients can learn to 'manage' its effects.
Spastic Cerebral Palsy - This type of Cerebral Palsy
effects anywhere between 70 and 80 percent of patients, and is
characterized by stiff and permanent contraction of the muscles. This
type of Cerebral Palsy is often described according to which limbs are
affected. In a percentage of cases, this type of Cerebral Palsy follows
a period of hypotonia (poor muscular tone) in infants.
Athetoid/Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy - Affects between
10 and 20 percent of patients, and is characterized by uncontrollable,
slow movements. The most commonly affected muscle groups include the
feet, legs, arms, hands, and possibly facial muscles. These movements
can intensify during stressful times and usually disappear when the
patient is sleeping. In cases where facial muscles are affected,
patients may experience problems with speech, also known as dysarthria.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – This is the rarest form of
Cerebral Palsy, affecting balance and depth perception. This results in
symptoms such as poor coordination, problems walking, and difficulty
with quick & precise movement. In addition, patients may also
display intention tremor. This typically results in difficulty beginning
voluntary movements, and causes an increasingly serious tremor. Only 5
to 10 percent of patients are affected by this type.
Mixed Form Cerebral Palsy - In many cases, patients
may display symptoms from more than one form of Cerebral Palsy.