Cerebral Palsy Affects
Usually, there is a tension or 'tone' in the muscles, enabling us to stand or move our bodies freely. This 'tone' is controlled by messages from the brain. Cerebral palsy distorts messages from the brain to cause either increased muscle tension (called hypertonus) or reduced muscle tension (called hypotonus). Sometimes this tension or 'tone' will fluctuate, becoming more or less obvious.
Similarly, messages sent from the brain can be out of time, sent to the wrong muscle, or not at all.
Cerebral palsy can be categorised according to the parts of the body it affects:
- Quadriplegia: all four limbs are affected and sometimes the muscles of the face & mouth.
- Diplegia: all four limbs are affected, but the legs more so than the arms.
- Hemiplegia: one side of the body is affected.
- Paraplegia: both legs, but neither arm is affected.
Cerebral palsy can affect various parts of the body; the leg and arm of one side of the body (hemiplegia), both legs and, less likely, both arms (diplegia), and both arms and legs and the muscles of the face and mouth (quadriplegia or tetraplegia).
Causes of Cerebral Palsy Disorders of movement associated with Cerebral Palsy are usually the result of changes in, or injury to the developing brain, either before or during birth, or sometimes in early childhood. The precise nature of the injury is often not known, but is usually the result of a diminished blood supply and subsequent lack of oxygen to areas of the brain. This causes damage to cells in the brain. Some common causes of this type of brain damage include maternal infections during pregnancy, or accidental damage to the brain during a difficult birth; illnesses in a young child, such as meningitis, are other causes.
Recent research indicates that extremely premature babies may also be at risk. Similarly, the incidence of Cerebral Palsy appears higher in multiple births.