Monday, April 4, 2011

Where did Cerebral Palsy Come From?

Where did Cerebral Palsy Come From?
In the 1860s, an English surgeon named William Little wrote the first medical descriptions of a puzzling disorder that struck children in the first years of life, causing stiff, spastic muscles in their legs and, to a lesser degree, in their arms. These children had difficulty grasping objects, crawling, and walking. Unlike most other diseases that affect the brain, this condition didn’t get worse as the children grew older.  Instead, their disabilities stayed relatively the same. 
The disorder, which was called Little's disease for many years, is now known as spastic diplegia. It is one of a group of disorders that affect the control of movement and are gathered under the umbrella term of “cerebral palsy.”      

What is Cerebral Palsy?
Doctors use the term cerebral palsy to refer to any one of a number of neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood and permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination but aren’t progressive, in other words, they don’t get worse over time.  The term cerebral refers to the two halves or hemispheres of the brain, in this case to the motor area of the brain’s outer layer (called the cerebral cortex), the part of the brain that directs muscle movement; palsy refers to the loss or impairment of motor function.    
Even though cerebral palsy affects muscle movement, it isn’t caused by problems in the muscles or nerves.  It is caused by abnormalities inside the brain that disrupt the brain’s ability to control movement and posture.
In some cases of cerebral palsy, the cerebral motor cortex hasn’t developed normally during fetal growth.  In others, the damage is a result of injury to the brain either before, during, or after birth.  In either case, the damage is not repairable and the disabilities that result are permanent.      
Information found at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke
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