12 Facts about Cerebral Palsy

by Louise O'Reilly

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that many people talk about but few understand. With that in mind, here we present our list of 12 things you probably didn’t know about cerebral palsy.

Number Twelve: It’s More Common Than You Think

In fact, it’s the most common motor disability in children. Approximately three in every 1,000 children are diagnosed with the disorder.

Number Eleven: There’s No One Right Way to Diagnose It

Despite the fact that it’s the most common motor disability in children, there is no one correct way to diagnose cerebral palsy. Most doctors are able to diagnose children by studying their movement, development, and speaking with parents.

Number Ten: There Are Several Different Kinds

Most people think CP is one disorder; however, it’s actually a group of varying disorders. The most common kind of cerebral palsy is spastic CP, which involves the muscles being particularly stiff. Other types include ataxic CP, which causes problems related to coordination, and athetoid CP, which causes either slow movements or fast and jerky movements.

Number Nine: It’s on a Continuum

Not every child diagnosed with the disorder will experience it to the same degree. While some people who have CP can walk perfectly fine and have perfect speech, others are confined to wheelchairs and struggle to form a single word.

Number Eight: It Affects All Muscle Groups

Most people might not think about this, but cerebral palsy can affect a person’s ability to swallow. All muscles related to motor control can be affected by the disorder.

Number Seven: It Can Change Over Time

Even if a child is diagnosed with the CP, the disorder itself isn’t absolute. The severity often changes as a child grows – it can either improve or worsen. The disorder also changes depending on weather and mood.

Number Six: There’s No Cure

Despite its prevalence, there is no known cure for CP. Very little research has been done, and this is likely due to funding issues.

Number Five: It Doesn’t Affect a Child’s Personality

Many people might see a child with CP and assume his or her personality has been subdued because of it. However, this isn’t the case at all! Children with CP have vibrant personalities – it’s often only their physical exterior that has been disabled.

Number Four: It Can Take Years to Diagnose

This is quite exceptional, but some people don’t know they have cerebral palsy until they’re as old as 13. However, if a 13-year-old has it and doesn’t know it, chances are he or she is on the low end of the symptom spectrum.

Number Three: It’s a Sexist Disorder

More males are diagnosed with the CP than females. For every 100 females diagnosed, 135 males are diagnosed.

Number Two: More People Are Being Diagnosed Every Day

This is sad but true. Every year, more and more people are diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to medical advances. It’s no secret that babies born prematurely are vulnerable to a host of extra issues. Incredibly, half of all people diagnosed with CP were born prematurely. However, more and more treatments are also being developed every year to combat the disorder as well.

Number One: People with CP Are Generally Really Smart

An impressive 60 percent of people with CP have normal or above average intelligence.