Cerebral Palsy - Description

If a person is affected by CP his or her muscles may become either rigid or very loose. Sometimes an individual may lose control of his or her muscles, resulting in problems with balance and coordination. The condition may affect the legs only, which is called paraplegia (pronounced par-uh-PLEE-jee-uh) or diplegia (pronounced die-PLEE-juh); the arm and leg on one side of the body, which is known as hemiplegia (pronounced hem-i-PLEE-juh); or all four limbs, called quadriplegia (pronounced kwod-ruh-PLEE-jee-uh).

Other problems experienced by someone with CP include visual or hearing problems, mental retardation (see mental retardation entry), learning disabilities (see learning disorders entry), and attention deficit disorder (ADD). Some CP patients experience no problems beyond their movement disorder.

CP affects about 500,000 children and adults in the United States. About 6,000 new cases are diagnosed in newborns and young children each year. CP is not a genetic disorder, and there is currently no way of predicting which children will develop it. CP is not a disease and is not communicable, which means it cannot be passed from one person to another.

CP is a nonprogressive disorder. That is, it does not become better or worse over time. However, some conditions may appear to become worse. For example, when muscles are rigid for a long period, arms and legs may become deformed. In such cases, additional treatments may be necessary.

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