Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 3

By David B. Jacoby; Robert M. Youngson | Go to book overview

Cerebral palsy

Questions and Answers

Is it correct to say that people who
have no control over their muscles
and their movements are spastic?

No. The term spastic can be used
to describe a part of the body that
does not work properly—for
example, someone with a spinal
injury may have spastic legs—but
it is not a general term for people
with cerebral palsy, even though
they often have spastic limbs.
Other conditions that may cause
some paralysis include cerebral
hemorrhage, Parkinson’s disease,
spina bifida, and multiple sclerosis.

Why can’t some people with
cerebral palsy speak properly, and
can anything be done to help?

Several factors can cause speech
difficulties in people with cerebral
palsy. First, the speech center of
the brain may be damaged.
Second, a lack of good muscle
control makes it hard to regulate
breathing and form words. Third,
people who find it difficult to
control their speech may become
tense when they try to speak, and
this exacerbates the problem.

Speech therapy can help greatly,
but the best help can come from
the listener. Embarrassment will
not help, so try to remember that
the person is thinking just as
quickly as you, but that physical
factors prevent him or her from
speaking normally.

My sister’s son has congenital
spasticity. Does this mean that
any child of mine will also have
this condition?

Don’t confuse “congenital” with
genetic. Congenital means that
the condition was present at birth
or soon afterward; genetic
suggests that some inherited factor
caused the baby to be spastic.
Only a few cases are caused by an
inherited factor, and it is rare to
find more than one person with
cerebral palsy in the same family.

The word “spastic” has wrongly become a slang term for a clumsy, stupid
person. In fact, spastic people have cerebral palsy, or spasticity—a disabling
disease, but one that may well not affect the individual’s intelligence
.

Cerebral palsy, sometimes called Little’s disease, is a broad medical term that covers a range of conditions, all resulting in some form of paralysis in early infancy because of imperfect development of, or damage to, the nerve centers in the brain. The damage occurs during pregnancy, at birth, or soon after. There are approximately 300,000 children with cerebral palsy in the United States, and the most common form is spasticity, or spastic paralysis. There is a widely held misconception that all spastic people are mentally handicapped, but this is not true. Some people with this condition may have brain damage that affects their learning abilities, but many are of average or above-average intelligence. The condition is nonprogressive.


Types and causes

There are three main types of cerebral palsy, each affecting a different area of the brain. Spasticity accounts for more than 80 percent of all cases, and in this condition the outer layer of the brain, the cortex, appears to have been damaged. The cortex deals with such functions as thought, movement, and sensation—all vitally important. In athetosis, damage is centered on the inner part of the brain in a particular group of nerve cells known as the basal ganglia. These cells are responsible for easy, graceful flowing movement. The third type of cerebral palsy, ataxia, results when the cerebellum (situated at the base of the brain) is affected. The cerebellum connects to the brain stem, which links the main part of the brain with the spinal cord, and it controls balance, posture, and coordination of bodily movements (see Ataxia).

The largest single cause of cerebral palsy is thought to be prolonged oxygen starvation at birth. This may occur during a difficult or prolonged labor, when the baby’s delicate brain

Voice synthesizers can help children with cerebral palsy who have severe speaking
difficulties. The bov above controls his synthesizer using a laser attached to his headband
.

-335-

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Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 3
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Bronchitis 294
  • Brucellosis 297
  • Bruises 298
  • Bunions 299
  • Burn Center 301
  • Burns 303
  • Burping 306
  • Bursitis 307
  • Calcium 310
  • Cancer 312
  • Capillaries 318
  • Cardiac Massage 320
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome 322
  • Cartilage 324
  • Cataracts 326
  • Celiac Disease 329
  • Cells and Chromosomes 330
  • Cellular Telephones 333
  • Cerebral Palsy 335
  • Cervix and Cervical Smears 337
  • Cesarean Birth 340
  • Chat Room 343
  • Chelation Therapy 345
  • Chest 347
  • Chicken Pox 349
  • Child Abuse 351
  • Child Development 354
  • Chinese Medicine 358
  • Chiropractic 362
  • Cholera 365
  • Cholesterol 366
  • Chorionic Villus Sampling 367
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 369
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 370
  • Circulatory System 372
  • Circumcision 374
  • Cirrhosis 375
  • Cleft Palate 376
  • Cloning 377
  • Clubfoot 379
  • Cocaine and Crack 380
  • Cold Sores 382
  • Colon and Colitis 383
  • Colonic Irrigation 384
  • Colonoscopy 386
  • Color Blindness 388
  • Color Therapy 390
  • Colostomy 392
  • Coma 394
  • Common Cold 396
  • Complexes and Compulsions 397
  • Conception 399
  • Congenital Disorders 401
  • Conjunctivitis 403
  • Constipation 404
  • Contact Lenses 406
  • Contraception 407
  • Convalescence 412
  • Convulsions 413
  • Coordination 414
  • Cornea 416
  • Corns 417
  • Coronary Arteries and Thrombosis 419
  • Cosmetics 422
  • Cosmetic Surgery 424
  • Coughing 426
  • Cough Syrup 427
  • Counseling 428
  • Index 431
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