Cerebral palsy is characterized by impairment to a child’s motor skills and, sometimes, cognition because of injury to, or abnormal development of, the brain. Cerebral palsy is actually a group of brain disorders due to injury to the brain before, during or after birth (including the first years of the child’s life).
While some cases of CP have unknown causes, others are said to be due to premature birth, extremely low birth weight, pelvic inflammatory infections, blood clotting in the placenta, inflammation of the umbilical cord, vaginal bleeding, fetal stroke, lack of oxygen supply to the fetus’ brain, head injury during labor and delivery, brain damage or malformation of the brain due to congenital causes, severe cases of jaundice, improper care for the pregnant woman, alcohol or drug dependence by the pregnant woman, and so forth. While these may be classified as among the many different medical causes of cerebral palsy, there are also known non-medical causes which trigger a severe or prolonged loss of oxygen supply to the brain, thus, the development of the disorder. The non-medical causes of cerebral palsy are child abuse, a forceful or violent blow to the child’s head, head trauma due to a car accident, fall, or a near-drowning experience.
Cerebral palsy affects a child’s movement, balance and posture. The impairment this brain injury causes can be partial or total, depending on the severity of the injury and the area of the brain affected. While some impairments may affect only both arms, both legs or both limbs on one side of the body, there is a type, called Spastic quadriplegia, which renders all four limbs of a child without feeling and control. This particular type of cerebral palsy also happens to be the worst type of the disorder and it would necessitate constant care and full attention to the child.
Cerebral palsy is a major health concern in all US states. There are more than 500,000 children (more than 760,000 with the inclusion of adults) who are currently suffering from this injury and, every year, 10,000 new babies and children are added to the count, making it the most common neurological or brain disorder in children.
With the founding of the Cerebral Palsy Research Registry (CPRR) in Chicago, many families will be benefited with a deeper understanding about the disorder. The CPRR is a multi-institutional collaborative effort that is dedicated to helping improve understanding about cerebral palsy. Through cases of cerebral palsy in Chicago are hoped to have significantly decreased, those already afflicted with it are expected to receive still improved treatment which may help them get back on their feet.