CP Info & Resources
Introduction To Cerebral Palsy
What is Cerebral Palsy?
- Cerebral palsy describes a type of physical disability, ranging from mild to severe, with different causes, affecting individuals in many different ways.
- Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term that refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. It is a permanent, life-long condition but generally does not worsen over time.
- ‘Cerebral’ means of the brain, and ‘Palsy’ means lack of muscle control.
- Cerebral palsy affects people in different ways and can affect body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance.
- People who have cerebral palsy may also have visual, learning, hearing, speech, and intellectual impairments, as well as epilepsy and other secondary disorders.
- Cerebral palsy is the most common physical disability in childhood.
Important notes to remember about CP
- CP is not contagious.
- CP is not hereditary.
- CP is not life-threatening.
- Limbs affected by CP are not paralysed and can feel pain, heat, cold and pressure.
- Just because someone with CP may not be able to speak or speak clearly does not mean that they have nothing to say.
- The degree of physical disability experienced by a person with CP is not an indication of their level of intelligence.
- People with CP have a normal life-expectancy.
- Damage to the brain is a one-time event so the condition will not get worse although the effects of CP may change over time.
- It is estimated that one out of every 500 babies, and up to one in three premature babies are affected to some extent.
- There are over 50,000 Canadians with CP.
- Approximately 1500 families in Newfoundland and Labrador live with CP.
- There are currently 17 million people in the world who have cerebral palsy.
- For most people with cerebral palsy, the cause is unknown.
- There is no known cure for cerebral palsy.
What are the Causes of Cerebral Palsy?
Any damage to the developing brain, whether caused by genetic or developmental disorders, injury or disease, can result in cerebral palsy. The damage to the brain is in the region that controls and coordinates muscular action. Most often it occurs during pregnancy, labour or shortly after birth. Most cases of CP are called Congenital Cerebral Palsy because they are related to the development and child-bearing processes. The condition is not inherited.
Acquired Cerebral Palsy, usually occurring before two years of age, is less common. It is usually caused by a head injury (motor vehicle accidents, falls, child abuse). CP can also be a result of a brain infection. Cerebral palsy, except in its mildest forms, can be seen in the first 12-18 months of life as it presents itself when children fail to reach movement milestones.
Types of CP
- Cerebral palsy takes many forms. Every person with CP is a unique individual, but is likely to be classified as having a particular type.
- Classification can be according to the type of movement disorder and / or by the number of limbs affected.
Classification by Number of Limbs Involved
- Quadriplegia – All four limbs are involved
- Diplegia – All four limbs are involved. Both legs are more severely affected than the arms.
- Hemiplegia – One side of the body is affected. The arm is usually more involved than the leg.
- Triplegia – Three limbs are involved, usually both arms and a leg.
- Monoplegia – Only one limb is affected, usually an arm.
Classification by Movement Disorder
The location of the brain injury will determine how movement is affected.
Spastic CP is the most common type and is caused by damage to the motor cortex. Spastic muscles are tight and stiff, which limit movement. Spasticity may be very mild and affect only a few movements, or very severe and affect the whole body. The amount of spasticity usually changes over time.
Athetoid CP results from damage to the basal ganglia or cerebellum and leads to difficulty in controlling and coordinating movement. Children may have involuntary movements (which frequently cease while they sleep), or have difficulty with skills that require coordinated movements such as speech or reaching and grasping objects smoothly.
This is the least common form of CP, and refers to shaky, unsteady movements, often causing problems with balance.
When areas of the brain affecting both muscle tone and voluntary movement are affected, a diagnosis of Mixed-Type CP may be given. Usually the spasticity is more obvious at first, with involuntary movement increasing as the child develops.
The classifications of movement disorder and number of limbs involved are usually combined (e.g. spastic diplegia). These technical words can be useful in describing the type and extent of CP, but they are only labels. A label does not describe an individual.
Treatment And Management Of CP
If you have a child with CP, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the number of professionals involved with your child and the different management and therapy options. Not all interventions are appropriate for each individual and, as a parent, you are the person to decide what is right for you and your child.
- Physical Therapy (PT) aims to help people achieve their potential for physical independence and mobility. PT includes exercises, correct positioning and teaching alternate ways of movement such as using walkers, bracing or handling a wheelchair.
- Occupational Therapy (OT) designs purposeful activities to increase independence through fine motor skills. OTs help children to use adaptive equipment for things like feeding, seating and bathroom aids.
- Speech Therapy aims at improving communication. A child may only need help to overcome a slight articulation problem, or she may not be able to communicate verbally and may require a non-verbal communication system.
- Music Therapy uses music for the treatment of neurological, mental or behavioural disorders.
Although a condition does not progress, the brain injury is permanent. While cerebral palsy is not ‘curable’, training and therapy can help significantly. ‘Management’ is a more accurate word than ‘treatment’. Management consists of helping a child achieve maximum potential in growth and development.
People with cerebral palsy can go to school, have jobs, get married, raise families and live in their own homes. Most of all, people with cerebral palsy need the opportunity for independence and full inclusion in our society.
Disability Tax Credit
- The disability tax credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities or their supporting persons reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay. For more information, go to www.cra.gc.ca/dtc.
- Le crédit d’impôt pour personnes handicapées (CIPH) est un crédit d’impôt non remboursable qui aide les personnes handicapées et leurs aidants à réduire l’impôt sur le revenu qu’ils pourraient avoir à payer. Pour en savoir plus, allez à www.arc.gc.ca/ciph.
Bank of Canada Scholarship and Work Placement Program
The Bank of Canada is proud to introduce a new scholarship and work placement program for students with disabilities and indigenous students.
Each year, two full-time students with disabilities and two full-time indigenous students will each be awarded a scholarship of $4,000 toward tuition costs, combined with the possibility of a paid summer or part-time (during the academic year) work placement at the Bank of Canada.
We’d love to hear from you if you meet the eligibility criteria and are currently enrolled in full-time undergraduate or post-graduate studies in economics, finance and accounting, business or public administration, communications, information technology, human resources or law.
Work placement opportunities will be determined based on the recipient’s field of study and the Bank’s departmental business requirements. Recipients who reside or attend a post-secondary institution outside of the National Capital Region may be offered the option of working at one of the Bank’s regional offices: Halifax, Montréal, Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver.
You will be evaluated on the key requirements listed below, which must be demonstrated by your curriculum vitae, your most recent transcript and a 100-300 word essay about yourself, your decision to pursue your field of study and your career interests. If you are selected as one of the top five candidates, you will be invited to an interview (either in person, by phone or virtually).
- Overall average mark of a minimum 70 per cent
- Career interests that are relevant to work performed at the Bank of Canada
- Pursuing studies in economics, finance and accounting, business or public administration, communications, information technology, human resources or law
We are accepting applications and supporting documents until 1 November