So, what is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is something you may see me talk about on this blog. Truth is, cerebral palsy is an umbrella term to describe several diagnoses that affect a person’s movement and co-ordination. Cerebral palsy is acquired due to a neurological (brain) injury, acquired before or soon after birth. Sometimes the cause of these injuries are unknown, but cerebral palsy is more likely in premature and multiple births.
The type of cerebral palsy I have can (confusingly!) be known as both hemiplegia or hemiparesis, but I usually refer to it as ‘hemi’ to keep explanations a little easier. Hemi affects one side of the body – usually one arm or limb – and can mean it is difficult to control the movements and coordination of the affected side. In my case, I have spastic hemiplegia affecting my right-hand side, where I struggle to use my right hand and arm – particularly my fine motor skills – and where my right leg has reduced movement and lack of balance when compared to my unaffected side. Spastic refers to involuntary muscle spasms of the affected side, and my affected muscles are usually ‘tight’ as the muscles have a higher tone. Spasticity not only contributes to a lack of coordination and movement, but can also be painful. I control the painful spasms with baclofen, which can help reduce spasticity and therefore ease the pain when necessary.
I have had many different treatments to help me to maintain mobility, improve coordination and soothe the painful effects of cerebral palsy. These include intensive physiotherapy, occupational therapy, neurological assessments, a tendon lengthening operation, splints, serial casting and the use of painkillers and baclofen. More detailed posts outlining my experiences of cerebral palsy can be found through the search bar.