March is Cerebral Palsy (CP) Awareness Month – but what is CP? How does it affect the quality of life and one’s lifespan? Cerebral palsy is a neurological (brain) condition that affects body movement or muscle control. CP occurs when the brain develops abnormally, or there’s damage to the brain before, during, or after birth. The disorder is not considered hereditary, and there’s a wide range of severity – from mild to severe. It’s not progressive, but symptoms can differ over time, especially as a child grows.
CP can cause weakness and a lack of coordination. The muscle tone may be stiff and contracted or may be too relaxed. It can affect any combination of arms, legs, head, or body. It can be hard to speak or eat if the facial muscles are involved. People with CP can have difficulty with balance and coordination, making it hard to complete daily tasks independently.
Kids with CP are often slow at reaching developmental milestones like rolling, sitting, crawling, and walking. However, they respond well to treatments like physical, occupational, or speech therapy and sometimes even surgery. These treatments focus on improving one’s daily function and quality of life. Depending on the cause and severity of symptoms, many children with cerebral palsy can adapt and live full lives. To read more about CP or the experiences of families who have adopted a child with cerebral palsy, check out Rainbow Kids at rainbowkids.com/special-needs/neurological-conditions/cerebral-palsy or visit madisonadoption.org/china-adoption-program to see more waiting children in China.