What exactly is cerebral palsy? How does this effect Mattie?

Today is World Cerebral Palsy Day, the first one of its kind. To me this is a day to spread awareness, love, and hope. I know that most people don’t know what cerebral palsy really is. Heck, I didn’t really know until Mattie was diagnosed with PVL.

Mattie has been diagnosed as having moderate spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. Broken down this means that Mattie has brain damage that affects the way her brain controls the muscles of her body (cerebral palsy). Mattie’s legs have a tendency to be tight and stiff, which can limit movement. Her arms and hands are normally loose but the range of motion in her arms are limited (spastic diplegia).

What does this mean to me, us, her…
Mattie still can’t sit up, crawl or walk (she is 1 yr 5 mo old), but she is a bad ass roller! Her smile is infectious and when she blows me a kiss my heart melts a little. She works hard everyday learning and becoming more in touch with her body. This girl is one tough girl. I know our perseverance will rub off on her. We teach each other to be kind, compassionate, strong, courageous, ambitious, and hopeful. We take things one day at a time, one milestone at a time. We are learning and growing as a family with love and a little girl leading our way.

So… take a moment to read a little about CP

What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy is the name given to a condition which affects the way the brain controls the muscles of the body. This results in difficulties in movement and posture. Cerebral Palsy has different causes, and affects each person differently.

What causes Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy is the most common physical disability in childhood. It is estimated 10,000 babies born in the US each year will develop Cerebral Palsy and that 764,000 children and adults in the United States have one or more of the symptoms of cp. The condition is not hereditary and there is no cure. Many causes of cerebral palsy are still not known or understood. Injury or changes to the developing brain are associated with Cerebral Palsy.

Is Cerebral Palsy curable?
There is no cure for the developmental brain damage that causes Cerebral Palsy. Therapy, however, can help improve muscle function and coordination. Studies have found that children who receive early therapy are more likely to lead a more typical and improved quality of life. Recent advancements in neurological studies have vastly expanded knowledge of brain plasticity (the brain’s natural ability to form new connections in order to compensate for injury). Scientists have learned that the brain continues to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.

Common Characteristics and Types:
– Persistence of primitive reflexes
– Involuntary movement
– Disturbance in gait and mobility
– Muscle tightness or spasticity
– Impairment of sight, hearing, or speech
– Seizures
– Difficulty in swallowing, feeding and problems with speech
– Learning and intellectual disabilities
– Abnormal sensation and perception

Cerebral Palsy can be grouped into three main types.
Spastic CP is the most common type of CP. Spastic muscles are tight and stiff, which limit movement. Spasticity may be very mild and affect only a few movements, or very severe and affect the whole body.
Athetoid is characterized by tremors, unsteadiness, lack of coordination, and constant movement. About 10% of children with cerebral palsy have this type.
Ataxic CP is the least common form of cerebral palsy. Ataxia means having a lack of balance. They usually have low muscle tone, a staggering walk and unsteady hands.

Specific words are used to describe the parts of the individual’s body that are affected.
Diplegia: Both legs and both arms are affected, but the legs are significantly more affected than the arms.
Hemiplegia: The leg and arm on one side of the body are affected.
Quadriplegia: Both arms and legs are affected. The muscles of the trunk, face and mouth can also be affected.

(source: United Cerebral Palsy: http://www.ucp.org/)

World Cerebral Palsy Day, on September 4, 2012, is the world’ first! It will change the lives of people with cerebral palsy (CP). The theme for this unique day is ‘Change my world in 1 minute’. There are 17 million people around the world with cerebral palsy. A further 350 million people are closely connected to a child or adult with CP.
This website is a forum for people with cerebral palsy to express what they need to make their life more independent or more rewarding. The website also gives people with CP the opportunity to make these ideas a reality.”
Please go check it out here: World CP Day

Mattie and Joba taking part in Hope for Mattie’s World CP Day fundraiser!

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