Research into cerebral palsy is critical in helping us to discover and understand its causes, leading into better options for treatment and to potentially develop preventative measures. Cerebral palsy research is sponsored and conducted by a variety of organisations including government, non-government (NGO), community and industry based groups.
One such organisation is the Royal Children’s Hospital Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, which has a substantial cerebral palsy research program. The Institute conducts vital research into conditions affecting babies, children and adolescents, and is currently working on a program called the Centre of Excellence in Cerebral Palsy. The aim of this project is to bring researchers in CP together, making generation of a list of CP research projects easier to identify. Research is also being conducted at Monash Medical Centre, Victoria University as well as other institutions.
Spasticity is the most common form with 86.6% having this type of CP.
There are many studies being conducted nationally and internationally into the causes of cerebral palsy. These include studying the way the brain develops in premature babies, assessing MRI patterns in order to determine risk factors for CP, genetic factors and infections as well as many other areas.
Recent exciting advances in research have demonstrated that the brain changes with every different activity that it performs. This is also referred to as the brain being ‘plastic’. When certain parts of the brain are damaged, sometimes other areas of the brain may take over to make up for the sustained injury. It is discoveries such as these that offer hope that gene and stem cell therapies may one day be used to repair some or all of the damage to the developing brain that leads to cerebral palsy.