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Cerebral Palsy: Life-Altering Neurological Disorders

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a set of neurological disorders that permanently affect bodily movement and muscle coordination.  Although much remains unknown about the causes of CP,  evidence from research strongly suggests that infections, birth injuries, poor oxygen supply to the fetal brain before, during and immediately after delivery, and severe illness caused by trauma can result in CP.  Cerebral Palsy is a serious motor condition, which experts say is neither genetic nor a medical condition, but often arises at the time of birth as a result of fetal distress during delivery.

Risk Factors for CP

The United Cerebral Palsy Association says that several factors during delivery can result in CP, including:

  • breech births (when a child is delivered feet first instead of head first)
  • loss of oxygen during delivery (hypoxia)
  • receiving a low Apgar score following delivery (a physical evaluation to test an infant’s physical health immediately following delivery)
  • physical birth defects
  • seizures following birth
  • low birth weight
  • trauma to the head and upper body during delivery (forcep/vaccuum delivery)

Treatment for CP

Children with CP will typically require long-term care from numerous medical, psychological and educational professionals, including pediatricians to oversee plans of care, pediatric neurologists to treat neurological disorders in children, orthopedists who can treat muscle and bone disorders, occupational therapists to help with everyday activities and use of adaptive products to live, developmental therapists to help with social and interpersonal skills and age-appropriate behaviors, social workers who assist families with accessing services and transitional care, and special education teachers to address learning disabilities and determine educational needs and resources.  Clearly, children with CP require an abundance of care that are effective, but costly.  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that the cost of care for a child with CP is about $1 million over the course of their lifetime.

Statistics About CP

According to the CDC, CP is the most common motor disability in childhood.  An estimated 1.5 to more than 4 per 1,000 live births result in CP.  Of those, 80% have spastic CP, although there are several types of CP.  There are also several signs to look out for in children under the age of three to identify CP.  Overall, children with CP face many hurdles and the proper prenatal care, as well as the proper doctor preparation and action during delivery, are equally important.





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