About Disabilities

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We must understand...

Developmental disability is not a disease but a condition. It is neither curable nor contagious but it can be managed. Many people with such differences have excelled as authors, sportspersons, software professionals, bank managers, scientists and as many other professionals. Childhood neurological disorders comprise a group of different conditions that influence brain development.

Children may have difficulty with a combination of movement, speech, attention, language and learning. By evaluating each child carefully, one can determine in what capacity their brain has developed differently than average children.

In many instances, prompt intervention can lead to improved quality of life, while negligence can lead to deterioration. It is important to recognize that children will continue to develop even when they have a disorder, and proper care will help them develop to the best of their ability. Disability does not mean inability. These children’s obvious impairments often obscure the significant abilities they retain. By focusing on what a child can do, it is possible to bring out their true skills and talents. This involves coordinated care between medical treatment, education, physical therapy and language therapy. Each child is unique and requires a different approach. Depending on the nature of the neurological disorder, each child will benefit from a different set of goals.

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Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral – Brain
Palsy – weakness, paralysis or lack of muscle control.

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a permanent physical condition that affects movement. Its effects can range from something as mild as just a weakness in one hand ranging to almost complete lack of movement. Causes of Cerebral Palsy: Cerebral Palsy can occur before, during or after birth (up to 5 years of age) while the brain is developing. It can be caused by: Trauma (accidents, near drowning, etc.) Infection (German Measles while pregnant or encephalitis when young) Problems with pregnancy (lack of oxygen, premature, low birth weight, etc.) However in 40% of cases the cause is unknown.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is classified by three things:

The type of movement or muscle tone

The body part or parts effected

The degree of severity

Types of Movement or Muscle Tone

Spastic Cerebral Palsy: This is the most common type and about 80% of people suffer from this. The muscles are tight and movement is stiff and awkward

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy: Least common, about 10%. Athetosis: The person has uncontrolled, writhing, floppy movements; and Dystonia: The person has intermittent, alternating muscle contractions resulting in twisting or repetative movements. Ataxia: Movements are shaky (tremor) and there are problems with balance and coordination. Mixed: A combination of 2 or more of the above

The body part affected

Hemiplegia: Difficulty moving and using one side of the body. The arm is often more affected than the leg. The affected side can be smaller due to tight muscles and a lack of growth. Neglect of affected side, resulting in lack of use. Problems reaching and grasping with affected hand. Lack of feeling on the affected side of the body. The person usually has a bent arm (flexed) and the hand is fisted. The leg is stiffened and they walk on tiptoes.

Diplegia: Difficulty moving the lower part of the body due to stiffness of the legs. Difficulty straightening fully at the hips. Difficulty with balance when standing or walking. The person often has a tilted head and shoulders back in an attempt to achieve an upright position, creating an exaggerated curve in the lower back. When walking, they move the trunk excessively to compensate for stiffness of the legs.

Quadriplegia: All four limbs affected. Trunk, neck and head often affected. The person often has problems controlling the mouth and tongue muscles. Individuals generally are unable to walk and either are unable, or have extreme difficulty in fine motor tasks. Can develop scoliosis (curvature of the spine), hip dislocation, bladder and bowel problems.

The Severity

Cerebral Palsy can be classified by how severe its effects on movement and muscle tone are: Severe Moderate Mild All three areas (movement, body part and severity) are then joined together to classify or describe the type of Cerebral Palsy eg: Severe spastic hemiplegia.

Effects of Cerebral Palsy:Cerebral Palsy can effect: Mobility and Balance Posture and Growth Communication and Language Fine motor control and coordination Eating, drinking and swallowing Personal care – dressing, bathing, toileting Perceptual difficulties Concentration and attention

Other associated conditions:
Intellectual disability = 50%
Epilepsy = 33%
Sight = 40%
Hearing = 10%

Facts about Celebral Palsy

The rate of Cerebral Palsy is about 2.5 children per 1,000 live births each year in W.A. There are about 15 million people with CP worldwide. In Australia approximately 20,000 people have CP with about 2,000 living in W.A.

Misconceptions about Cerebral Palsy

“Cerebral Palsy is contagious” It is not a sickness or disease. “Cerebral Palsy is progressive”. The damage to the brain does not get worse, but the effect on the body can result in progressive deformities. “Cerebral Palsy can be cured.” Although the damage to the brain cannot be cured, therapy and medical intervention can assist clients to maximise potential and enhance quality of life.