A fairly common condition has the general umbrella name of cerebral palsy, and spasticity is one of these. It is an after- effect from damage to the brain that may have occurred after conception, in the antenatal days, just before or during labour, or afterward. There are many causes, frequently overlooked at the time, and most likely never to be discovered.
There may be only a few, or conversely there may be many and marked ones. These may range from paralysis of various muscle groups or entire sections of the body, weakness, lack of coordination, plus strange, jerky movements. Mental retardation is a common accompaniment, and there are often defects of the patient’s ability to see, talk, or hear. There may be various emotional disturbances and strange, convulsive movements of body, limbs and head.
It is fairly common, and this is why you are perpetually hearing about it in the various media. Some are severely affected, while others are only mildly afflicted. It is said in broad terms that about one third make fairly good improvement with suitable therapy. Another third are mentally retarded and there is little future for them. About 16 per cent are very severely involved and may be bedridden more or less permanently.
These are legion. They range from various viral or bacterial infections antenatally or postnatally; X-rays during pregnancy have been incriminated, and loss of blood before labour. Afterward the infant may have suffered from a brain infection, such as meningitis, encephalitis or some other infection with the myriad viruses that afflict children.
This can often be terribly difficult and frustrating for the family. The child may be kept at home, probably bedridden, and the parents make it their lifework caring for the patient. Some become associated with special care centres that look after them. Others attend special day schools geared to care for and educate them. Physical therapy, speech training, psychological care, all play a part, and each can give some assistance in what is usually a very difficult and harrowing disability to manage.