www.whyville.net Apr 1, 2012 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

Explain it to Me: Cerebral Palsy

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I've known a boy with cerebral palsy for several years now but I never really understood much about his disease. Danny's brain if affected by cerebral palsy. He can't talk clearly which makes it hard to understand him at times. He also walks a bit differently than most people. It wasn't until very recently that I became interested in learning about his disease.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a group of several disorders that affect both the brain and the nervous system. This disease can have an impact on someone's hearing, thinking, sight or movements. Cerebral palsy may even contribute to learning disabilities. It can also have an affect on breathing, bladder control or eating.

It is one of the most common disorders that takes place before birth. Approximately 500,000 Americans are diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

How does someone get cerebral palsy?

Although cerebral palsy does not have a specific cause, some babies are more likely to get it. During pregnancy, a baby's brain may end up getting damaged or it simply does not develop correctly. Cerebral palsy may also develop during labor and delivery.

Premature babies or multiple babies, such as twins, are at a greater risk of developing cerebral palsy. The disease can develop during childhood as well.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of cerebral palsy are:

- Tight muscles that cannot stretch
- Walking abnormally
- Joint contracture
- Loss of movement in group of muscles
- Weak muscles
- Floppy muscles
- Loss of coordination
- Tremors
- Learning disabilities
- Speech, hearing or vision problems
- Hard time swallowing food

Is there a cure?

There is not a cure for cerebral palsy but treatment can help patients. Some of the most common forms of treatment are:

- Primary care doctor
- Social worker
- Therapists (occupational, speech, physical)

Author's Note: Sources: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001734/


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