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What is Spastic Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a common term that covers a range of issues relating to abnormal brain development, affecting motor development and resulting in permanent issues with movement. Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of cerebral palsy, characterised by stiff muscles and jarring movements.  


Spasticity – what is the cause?


The cause of spasticity is damage to a specific area – or cross section – of the brain known as the motor cortex, which runs roughly from the top of one ear to the top of the other ear. Damage to this part of the brain can occur in the womb, during birth, or during the developmental stages of the brain after birth. The cause can even be related to medical negligence due to improper care on behalf of medical staff (i.e. failure to act or taking the incorrect action) or through injuries caused by negligent medical staff. For more information, speak to a cerebral palsy lawyer in Chicago


What are the physical effects of spasticity?


In the upper limbs, spastic cerebral palsy causes a noticeable flexion in the joints, meaning the elbow, wrist, and fingers will appear to be bent at all times (or in the case of the fingers, clenched or fisted). Likewise, cerebral palsy affects the flexion of the joints in the lower limbs. This could include flexion of the hip that results in leaning when standing or a raised hip when lying down, a pulling together of the thighs (i.e. closed legs in a natural seated or standing position), flexed knee joints, and pointed toes.


The day-to-day effects of spasticity include:


  • Inability to manipulate objects (resulting in issues with hygiene, getting dressed, writing or using electronic devices, eating and drinking)
  • Inability to walk unaided
  • Inability to stand or sit upright – assistance is required in shifting positions (e.g. repositioning in bed).


How can spastic cerebral palsy impact speech?


Along with the prominent effects of cerebral palsy on the major muscle groups in the trunk and limbs, smaller muscle groups in the face and neck can also be affected (which in turn can affect speech).


The effects of cerebral palsy on speech include:


  • General slurring of words
  • Laboured facial movements that result in slower or imprecise speech
  • The sound of the voice may be affected due to flexion of the muscles in the vocal folds

Communicating via picture boards or electronic devices are common solutions to barriers in communication caused by spastic cerebral palsy.

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