The most important thing to know about cerebral palsy is it effects each person differently. The way each person moves, communicates and lives their life will be completely different to everyone else.

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.

*Source: Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital

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.

Other Effects of CP

The challenges associated with cerebral palsy will vary depending on how the person is affected. There are many parts of the body that can be impacted and a person can have a combination of a number symptoms. It should be noted that many people with cerebral palsy can and do in fact live independent lives with careful management.

Mobility is invariably affected for people with cerebral palsy and there are a number of associated challenges that may be present. The main ones are listed below.

How CP is Measured

There are 4 classification systems that are most commonly used to measure cerebral palsy:

Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) – 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.

Manual Ability Classification System (MACS) – used to measure a child’s ability to handle objects in everyday life.

Communication Function Classification System (CFCS) – assesses everyday communication, focusing on how information is expressed and how it is received.

Eating and Drinking Ability Classification System (EDACS) – used to measure a child’s eating and drinking ability.

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