Cerebral palsy is a term that refers to a set of neurological conditions that affect a child’s movement and co-ordination. It’s surprisingly common − around one in every 400 children in the UK is affected by the condition.
Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain, which usually occurs before birth, but can happen during or soon after birth. The known causes of cerebral palsy include infection in early pregnancy, a difficult or premature birth, bleeding in the baby’s brain and abnormal brain development. The symptoms of cerebral palsy vary greatly between each child and depends on the type of cerebral palsy the child has and how severe it is.
The symptoms normally become apparent during the first three years of the child’s life. They may be slower in achieving important developmental goals, such as learning to crawl, walk or speak. Children with cerebral palsy also tend to have problems with their muscles and lack the ability to contract or relax muscles, something which is normally done subconsciously.
How we’re helping
Sparks is supporting research at Manchester Metropolitan University on a new therapy to improve the arm movements of children affected by cerebral palsy.
Sparks is also funding the development of a diagnostic tool to help doctors identify, treat and prevent respiratory disease in children with cerebral palsy at the Institute of Child Health, Liverpool and Newcastle University.
Our research projects in this area
Dr Frederik Deconinck is currently investigating how a mirror box can help cerebral palsy