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									                                Cerebral Palsy: Just a Little Different 1

Cerebral Palsy: Just a Little Different

         Madeline A. Stout

   Salt Lake Community College

           October 4, 2010

             EDU 2010
                                                                Cerebral Palsy: Just a Little Different 2


My paper is about a common disability known as Cerebral Palsy. As you read through this paper,

I hope you will gain a better understanding of the different causes of cerebral palsy, how it is

contracted and the different levels of severity. I would also like people to know about the

struggles one may go through living life with cerebral palsy. This paper gives mostly the facts of

the disability, not the lifestyle. But if you can imagine, based on the facts, it may open your eyes.

If you only take one thing from this paper, I hope it’s that you realize people with cerebral palsy

are no different than you and me. They just do things a little different.
                                                                 Cerebral Palsy: Just a Little Different 3

       Cerebral palsy is a disorder in the brain that affects the cognitive functions of the body.

The word cerebral, which comes from classic Latin, refers to the brain. The word palsy, also

deriving from Latin, refers to the body, especially the muscles.

       The history of cerebral palsy dates back to the 1860’s when a surgeon named William

Little discovered children were having trouble with their movements and developments of their

muscles. Cerebral palsy was known as “Little’s Disease” until 1987 when Sigmund Frued started

to research the disease and discovered more of what we know today, such as the classifications

of cerebral palsy.

       The term that is used as general reference to cerebral palsy is the abbreviation of CP.

There are many different classifications of Cerebral palsy that refer to the part of the brain that is

affected, which in turn, affects a specific part of the body. The three main classifications are

Spastic, Dyskinetic and Ataxic.

       Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common case and affects the limbs of the body. There

are three sub-categories of Spastic cerebral palsy: Hemiplegia, Diplegia, and Quadriplegia.

Hemiplegia affects one side of the body but affects the opposite side of the brain. For example, if

the left side of the brain is affected then the right side of the body will be affected. Diplegia

cerebral palsy affects the legs more than the arms and is usually connected with premature births.

Quadriplegia cerebral palsy affects all four limbs and usually the throat area. With quadriplegia

cerebral palsy, mental retardation, seizures, and many other medical complications are usually


       Dyskinetic cerebral palsy involves the entire body rather than just the limbs. Often with

this classification, random movements are involved and can vary from day to day. There are two

sub-categories of Dyskinetic cerebral palsy: Athetoid and Dystonic. Both classifications show
                                                                Cerebral Palsy: Just a Little Different 4

very similar characteristics. Athetoid cerebral palsy is identified by movements that are

sometimes jerky and rapid, or slower more difficult movements. Dystonic cerebral palsy shows

characteristics of rigid posture that is centered in the core of the body and the neck.

       Ataxic cerebral palsy is a classification by itself because it is centered in the cerebellum

rather than the brain itself. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that affects the equilibrium and

is located between the brainstem and the brain. Due to the effect this has on the equilibrium, it

can be difficult to maintain balance, posture and hand-eye coordination.

       There is also a term known as mixed cerebral palsy where one or more of the

classifications above are present in the brain.

       There are many different reasons that children have cerebral palsy and in certain cases the

reason is unidentifiable. The thought that cerebral palsy is developed from birth asphyxia has

decreased since the 1980’s. Premature babies are more likely to develop cerebral palsy because

their lungs aren’t fully developed and this can cause a lack of oxygen to the brain. Other causes

of cerebral palsy can be bleeding on the brain or a brain injury during birth. If the mother has

diabetes, high blood pressure or a blood clotting disorder, there is a chance that her baby will be

born with cerebral palsy. In rare cases if a baby develops jaundice (a yellowing of the skin) and it

is left untreated, the baby has a chance of developing cerebral palsy. In certain cases, having a

cesarean section can prevent a baby from developing cerebral palsy.

       According to The United Cerebral Palsy of Md-Ha (2004), cerebral palsy is more

dominant in African-Americans, than in Caucasians. 65% of African-Americans are diagnosed

with cerebral palsy and 35% of Caucasians are diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

       Cerebral Palsy is not contagious and there is no cure. However, different types of

therapies are used to help with muscle strength, speech improvement, and creating a meaningful
                                                                Cerebral Palsy: Just a Little Different 5

social environment. Some of the specific intervention techniques include: braces, splints, proper

positioning, orally administered and/or injection of medications, neurosurgery and orthopedic

surgery. The family may also be involved exclusively in these interventions to provide support

for their child in the school, community and any other activities in which the child may be

interested in. Full inclusion is available for the student in the classroom, depending on the level

of severity. For example, if the student has a mental disability, this may not be possible but if the

student only has a physical disability, they can be included in the classroom with students who

do not have disabilities.

       There are many different resources for people with cerebral palsy and their families.

These include various things like support groups, therapy, and interaction with the medical team

for their child. As stated above, the community is also a big part of supporting anyone in their

area with a disability. I found one website in particular that seemed to branch out to all sorts of

resources for people with cerebral palsy: UPC (United Cerebral Palsy) states in

their mission: “[our purpose] is to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of

people with disabilities through an affiliate network.” They help support people with cerebral

palsy in education, employment, housing, family and relationships, and much more.

       Children and adults with cerebral palsy are as normal as any other person on the planet.

My nephew, Tyler, was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy when he was first born, along with

other mental disabilities, and I have never viewed him as any different from my nieces, myself,

or anyone else around me. He may look a little different but he is a regular kid who loves

baseball and wrestling. He receives punishments and rewards just the same as his sisters and he

loves to play with the remote for the T.V. The only thing that makes him different is his beautiful

smile, his innocent demeanor, and his ability to brighten my day just by seeing his face. I believe
                                                              Cerebral Palsy: Just a Little Different 6

that people with cerebral palsy should be thought of as people first and foremost before they are

thought of as anything else. They do what any other person would do on a daily basis, just a little

                                                          Cerebral Palsy: Just a Little Different 7


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Cerebral palsy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
   Retrieved      October 4, 2010, from

Children with Disabilities (5 ed.). (2002). Baltimore: Brookes Publishing Company.

History of Cerebral Palsy. (n.d.). Cerebral Palsy Lawyer - Birth Injury Attorney. Retrieved
   October 1, 2010, from

United Cerebral Palsy Of Md- Ha School, Baltimore Maryland / MD Ethnic Makeup
   Comparison - (n.d.). - School Rankings, Reviews
   and More - Public and Private Elementary, Middle, High Schools. Retrieved October 3,
   =18,UCP: About UCP - Mission & History. (n.d.). UCP: Home Page. Retrieved
   October 4, 2010, from

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