With world cerebral palsy awareness day on the 1st of October, I am writing a piece to help spread awareness of Cerebral Palsy and the impact that it has on the individuals and families that live with it every day. Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term that is used to refer to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. It is a lifelong condition, which is permanent, however often remains stable over time. It is the most common physical disability in childhood.
About cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. The disorder has different effects on each individual and can affect body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance.
People who have cerebral palsy often have other impairments that may affect their vision, learning, hearing, speech, epilepsy and intellectual capacity.
There are approximately 34,000 people in Australia with cerebral palsy, with a global incidence rate of 1 in 500 births. There are currently 17 million people in the world with cerebral palsy.
Some of the signs that may indicate a child has cerebral palsy include:
- Low muscle tone (baby’s limbs are ‘floppy’)
- Unable to hold up own head while lying on their stomach or in a supported sitting position
- Muscle spasms or feeling of stiffness
- Poor muscle control, reflexes and posture
- Delayed development (isn’t sitting up or independently roll over by 6 months)
- Feeding or swallowing difficulties
Treatment for Communication Difficulties
Whilst there is no known cure for Cerebral Palsy, management is possible and often involves a multidisciplinary team approach including physicians, physiotherapist, occupational therapists and speech pathologists. Speech pathologists assess and provide intervention to improve the individuals swallowing and communication skills. This includes understanding what is being said and learning to use words and sentences. Treatment for communication disorders in individuals with Cerebral Palsy often involves the use of augmentative or alternative communication systems, such as signing, communication boards and speech generating devices.
Contact us for results focused speech therapy
This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you require therapy for difficulties with speech, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective treatment targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.