United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the U.S. It was not established until the late 1940’s, due to the fact that children born with disabilities (and their families) were not given many options. They were actually classified to second-class status. Families were afraid and there was a lack of understanding from the medical community and the general public.
In 1948, Leonard H. Goldenson, then-President of United Paramount Theaters and ABC Television, and his wife, Isabelle, joined forces with prominent New York businessman Jack Hausman, and his wife, Ethel, to improve the quality of life for their children with cerebral palsy and for others like them… UCP would not be where it is today — assisting thousands of people with disabilities and their families — if it had not been for a group of parents who were committed to pioneering an effort to change the world for their children.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone, or posture. It is caused by damage to a child’s developing brain before birth. Normally, signs are shown during infancy and include, but are not limited to, impaired movement associated with abnormal reflexes, involuntary movements, problems swallowing and commonly have eye muscle imbalance. According to Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms associated with the disability can vary greatly. They can be limited to one limb, one side of the body, or the entire body, and although the brain disorder itself does not worsen with age, the shortening of muscles and muscle rigidity will take effect if not aggressively treated.
It is regularly mistaken that CP only affects the brain.
Other areas affected by CP are:
- Difficulty with vision and hearing
- Intellectual disabilities
- Abnormal touch or pain perceptions
- Oral diseases
- Mental health (psychiatric) conditions
- Urinary incontinence
Unfortunately, in many cases, causes for Cerebral palsy are unknown. But there are factors that can lead to the abnormality of a child’s developing brain.
- Mutations in genes that lead to abnormal brain development
- Maternal infections that affect the developing fetus
- Fetal stroke, a disruption of blood supply to the developing brain
- Infant infections that cause inflammation in or around the brain
- Traumatic head injury to an infant from a motor vehicle accident or fall
- Lack of oxygen to the brain related to difficult labor or delivery (although birth-related asphyxia is much less commonly a cause than historically thought)
To diagnose a child with CP, many scans and tests are done, the child’s medical history will be reviewed, the signs and symptoms will be evaluated, and the child could also be referred to a Pediatric Neurologist.