Cerebral Palsy FAQ

A high percentage of children in Dien Ban have Cerebral Palsy

Dien Ban District has over 1,000 children with disabilities and special needs. Cerebral Palsy is one of the most prevalent conditions; others include Down’s syndrome, Autism, Microcephalus and intellectual impairment. There are barely any support services available. It has been suggested that there is a link between the use of dioxins (Agent Orange) used during the Vietnam War and the level of disability that is still occurring. The consequences of these disabilities can be catastrophic to individuals and their whole families.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy is a condition which affects movement, posture and co-ordination. These problems may be seen at or around the time of birth or may not become obvious until early childhood. Cerebral Palsy is a wide-ranging condition and can affect people in many different ways. Cerebral Palsy is more common than generally realised. Currently, it is believed that about one in every 400 children is affected by the condition, i.e. about 1,800 babies are diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy in Great Britain each year. Cerebral Palsy can affect people from all social backgrounds and ethnic groups. It is often not possible for doctors to give an exact reason why part of a baby’s brain has been injured or failed to develop, as there may be no obvious single reason why a child has cerebral palsy. Causes of cerebral palsy can be multiple and complex. Some studies suggest that cerebral palsy is mainly due to factors affecting the brain before birth. Known possible causes include:

  • Infection in the early part of pregnancy.
  • Difficult or premature birth.
  • A cerebral (brain) bleed. This is more common following premature or multiple birth.
  • Abnormal brain development.
  • A genetic link, though this is quite rare.

What are the effects of Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy affects the messages sent between the brain and the muscles. There are three types of cerebral palsy, they are spastic, athetoid (or dyskinetic) and ataxic and generally relate to which part of the brain has been affected. The effects of Cerebral Palsy vary enormously from one person to another, with some people having a combination of two or more types. It is often difficult for a doctor to predict accurately how a young child with Cerebral Palsy will be affected later in life. Cerebral Palsy is not progressive, i.e. it does not become more severe as the child gets older, although some difficulties may become more noticeable.

Is there a cure for Cerebral Palsy?

There is no cure for Cerebral Palsy. If children are positioned well from an early age and encouraged to move in a way that helps them to improve their posture and muscle control, they can be supported to develop and achieve more independence for themselves. There are also a number of therapies, which may be beneficial for some individuals.

Other associated difficulties

Other difficulties and medical conditions may occur more commonly in people with Cerebral Palsy but just because a person has Cerebral Palsy does not mean that they will also have other difficulties. However, it may help you to be aware of some of them:

  • Children with Cerebral Palsy may have problems with constipation or sleeping. The doctor or health visitor should be able to offer advice about this.
  • People with Cerebral Palsy may have problems with speech and associated difficulties in chewing and swallowing. They may also have problems understanding the spoken word. A speech and language therapist may be able to offer advice.
  • Some people with Cerebral Palsy may also have epilepsy. Often medication can help control this.
  • Some people with Cerebral Palsy may have difficulty distinguishing and comparing shapes. This is to do with visual or spatial perception, which is about a person’s ability to interpret what they have seen and not a problem with their eyesight.
  • People with Cerebral Palsy may also have some form of learning difficulty, making them slow to learn. The difficulties can be mild, moderate or severe. There may be a ‘specific learning difficulty’ or problems with a particular activity such as reading, drawing or arithmetic because a specific area of the brain is affected.

It is important to remember that even someone severely physically affected by Cerebral Palsy may have average or above average intelligence. The above information is provided courtesy of SCOPE – the UK ‘s largest charity working with people with Cerebral Palsy. (c) Copyright Scope 2006. All rights reserved.