Cerebral palsy, also known as CP, is a group of chronic conditions affecting movement and coordination. Depending on its severity, it can impair the way patients walk, talk, use their hands, and engage in nearly any physical task. It makes dealing with everyday activities a lifelong challenge.
Its name gives us insight into the conditions: "Cerebral" means having to do with the brain and "palsy" describes poor control or weakness in muscles. The problems don't start in the muscles or nerves, but rather in the brain before, during, and shortly after birth. Adverse conditions during this vulnerable period can damage or disrupt the development of brain areas governing the muscles. The brain can no longer adequately control simple functions such as movement and posture.
It's a relief to know that the underlying conditions don't get worse -- the brain damage doesn't spread. However, secondary conditions, such as the ability of muscles to stretch, can improve, worsen, or remain constant.
Although cerebral palsy can't be cured, therapy, training, innovative strategies, and empowering technologies can improve function and the quality of life of those affected.