Effects on the body
People without CP are able to move and control their bodies freely due to muscle tension, or tone, which is controlled by messages from the brain. In a person with cerebral palsy, these messages from the brain don’t travel the way they’re supposed to. They can be distorted, completely out of time or not occur at all. The result is either increased muscle tension (hyertonus) or reduced muscle tension (hypotonus).
The parts of the body affected by cerebral palsy will differ from one person to another, along with the various body parts and areas.
Depending on which parts are affected, different terms are used to describe the effects.
- Hemiplegia - the leg and arm on one side of the body are affected.
- Diplegia - both legs are affected significantly more than the arms. People with diplegia may have some clumsiness with their hand movements.
- Quadriplegia - both arms and legs are affected. The muscles of the trunk, face and mouth can also be affected.
How CP is measured
The Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) is used to categorise the severity of CP on a person. This type of assessment looks at a number of different ways of moving including the way the person sits and walks.
The other system used is the Manual Ability Classification System (MACS) which looks at a child’s ability to handle objects in everyday life.