- Present from birth
- Often accompanied by hydrocephalus (water on the brain)
This condition is caused by a defect in the neural tube which forms the spine, spinal cord and brain. A gap is left in the vertebrae. It can present in variations in severity from mild, where only a hair or dimple is seen on the skin to severe where a lump (sac) is seen on the back. This contains nerves and spinal fluid. Mobility and continence may be affected in mild forms and will cause paralysis and incontinence in its severe form.
- Often accompanies spina bifida
- Can be caused by meningitis, head injury or premature birth
This condition is caused by an obstruction in the flow of fluid around and over the ventricles in the brain. The problem when it happens in babies causes the head to swell up and enlarge. This leads to learning difficulties.
Things to look out for: Children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus often have poorly developed co-ordination and perception. They have difficulties with the concepts of time and space and also have short term memory problems. They can also have speech, vision and motor difficulties due to pressure on the brain.
Treatment for hydrocephalus: A shunt is usually inserted to relieve the pressure in the brain. The shunts quite often block up. This can cause the person to become irritable, to have nausea, suffer from inertia and headaches.
People who can help: SENCO/Resource Teacher; Physiotherapist; Occupational Therapist
- Ranges from mild to life-limiting
- Progressive condition
- More common in boys
A disorder of the nerves connecting the brain and spinal cord to the muscles. The disease leads to a breakdown of muscle fibres causing weak and wasted muscles. The disease usually begins to show itself in childhood. The disease can range in severity from mild where it causes only mild disability to severe where the person will get progressively worse being confined to a wheelchair and with a limited lifespan.
Although children with Muscular Dystrophy may start school with little or no signs of disability, they will need statemented as the progress of the disease can be rapid. Weakness will cause them to need physiotherapy and perhaps special equipment such as a computer. He/she will probably need help from a classroom assistant.
People who can help: SENCO/Resource Teacher; Physiotherapist
Cerebral palsy is a condition affecting muscle control and movement. It affects around 1 in 400 children in the UK, and is caused by an injury to the brain before, during or after birth, such as a lack of oxygen to the brain or an infection during pregnancy. It is not progressive, and a range of therapies can help people with cerebral palsy to lead more independent and happier lives, but there is no known cure. Children with cerebral palsy will usually receive treatment from a range of professionals in a multi-disciplinary team. The incidence of cerebral palsy is not related to social background or to ethnic grouping.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are three main types of cerebral palsy:
- Spastic cerebral palsy – this is the most common form of cerebral palsy and affects more than 75% of people with cerebral palsy. Spastic refers to the characteristic tightness (hypertonia) of the muscle and leads to a more limited range of movement. The impact of this varies between individuals so that different parts of the body can be affected.
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy – in around 15% of cases – here the muscle tone switches from loose (hypotonia) to tight (hypertonia) with twisting, rhythmic movements. Speech can be difficult to understand due to the individual’s difficulty in controlling the organs of speech (tongue, lungs, vocal chords)
- Ataxic cerebral palsy – the least common form, present in just 4 or 5% of cases – is associated with a difficulty in activating the correct muscle pattern, leading to difficulty with balance and spatial awareness.
Many people with cerebral palsy have a mixture of these types and no two people with the condition are affected in exactly the same way.
Cerebral palsy is also often associated with other co-morbid conditions. For instance, in 45% of cases, there is a learning disability with can range from mild to severe. There are also often associated problems with motor control and musculoskeletal problems.
Recent research has also suggested that people with cerebral palsy experience secondary ageing earlier than other people who do not have cerebral palsy. This can mean more pain and discomfort, more muscle spasms, osteoarthritis, poor motor control and joint problems and increased back pain.
www.scope.org.uk – a great website with lots of very useful information on Cerebral Palsy
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