What is CP?

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a developmental disability that results from damage to or dysfunction of the developing brain. The impairments associated with cerebral palsy are nonprogressive but permanent. Varying degrees of disability related to functional mobility (movement and posture), daily living skills, and communication / socialisation skills results from these impairments.

Cerebral refers to the brain.

Palsy can mean weakness or paralysis or lack of muscle control. 

Although Cerebral Palsy is a permanent condition, as a person learns and grows and practices skills, more control over movement may be achieved. No two individuals are affected in the same way ... some people may suffer minor motor skill problems, while others may be totally physically dependent. 

With effort it is possible to maximise function and minimise the disadvantage a person experiences as a consequence of disability or society and create new opportunities for greater participation and enhanced quality of life for people with cerebral palsy. 

With cerebral palsy, messages from the brain may be sent to the rest of the body at the wrong time, to the wrong place, or not at all. Just like crossed telephone lines, the result is a confused muscle. Some people appear clumsy; for others, the muscles shake and jerk at the wrong time, or become completely relaxed. 

Cerebral palsy is not a disease - you can't catch it. It's also not hereditary, nor does it mean there is something wrong with the muscles. It's simply the brain sending the wrong signals at the wrong time. 

Why does it happen?

Cerebral palsy is usually caused by injury or changes to the brain during development. Lack of oxygen during birth, injury or extreme premature birth may also be causes.

Common symptoms  

  • Clumsiness 
  • Involuntary muscle movements 
  • Drooling 
  • Slurred speech or no speech 
  • Stiffness or paralysis 

People with cerebral palsy have abilities and goals just like everyone else they don't like to be thought of as victims in useless bodies - many can live independently and very successful.

The more society understands about cerebral palsy, the easier it will be for those with the condition to be accepted and participate fully in community life.