Understanding Cerebral Palsy and the Brain

Cerebral palsy and the brain are connected. This condition is caused by injury to the parts of the brain that control the ability to use our muscles correctly. As a result one suffers from impaired motor skills and the inability of the body to facilitate and control movement. This largely affects one's developmental patterns as body movement plays a vital role in terms of one's overall growth.

Many scientists believe that the condition is not passed on through from the parents, hence, can not be passed down from one generation to the other. It is also a condition that is non-contagious. This means that you can not acquire cerebral palsy (CP) through close contact with an individual who has it.

It is believed that the main causes of cerebral palsy are a failure of correct development that happens inside the mother's womb, placental abruptions, strokes in utero and unfortunately it can also be caused by medical errors and problems at birth.

The common characteristics of a person that suffers from CP are muscle stiffness, spasms, involuntary movements or 'twitches'. Problems with the muscles restrain a person from executing movement according to his own will. A person with cerebral palsy will usually exhibit a lot of uncontrolled movements that run from the head down to limbs. This affects other bodily functions that require muscle movement such as speech, balance (making it very difficult for one to walk), swallowing (making it very difficult to eat) and posture.

Many make the mistake of thinking that people with CP will suffer some form of mental retardation, this is not true. Mental retardation relates to the functions of the brain that relate to learning and cognitive functioning. Where as cerebral palsy is a condition that affects the motor function of the brain resulting in difficulty with the working of the muscles.

The brain of a person suffering from CP lacks the ability to send mental signals to the muscles, the affects of this can include the following: difficulty in breathing, seizures, lack of bladder and bowel control, difficulty with learning, digestive problems, visual and auditory problems, and skeletal deformities.

Records show that nearly 65% ​​of people with cerebral palsy will exhibit some form of mental retardation. But the other 35% will have no mental impairment and some will even have above average intelligence.

When a health professional tells you that your child has cerebral palsy the impact can be enormous, but keep in mind that this condition ranges from mild to extreme. The problem comes in getting a diagnosis as to what type of cerebral palsy your child has.

As it is impossible to measure a child's IQ before the age of 3, waiting for a diagnosis can seem like an eternity. Statistically mental retardation is more commonly seen in children with spastic quadriplegia.

Make sure you get as much help and support as you feel you need. Because in the early days of being told your child has cerebral palsy the amount of uncertainty you face can feel overwhelming. Do not try to do this on your own.