What is Cerebral Palsy?
By definition, Cerebral Palsy (CP) and similar neurodevelopmental conditions are often caused by a lesion (damage) or under-development which causes malfunction of the brain. This could also be a genetic problem.
These conditions affect the ability of the brain to learn the processes of working out how to do things. For example, how to process and interpret all the senses we use in order to send messages to our body to coordinate movements and plan sequences of actions.
A child with a brain that has all of it’s potential will develop in a way that is known as ‘typical development’ if provided with the right environment and opportunities.
‘Typical development’ is critical and essential as it is a phase in which children learn through a process of experimentation, trial and error. This shapes the way they will approach their coordination and movement in the future.
‘Typical development’ cannot be expected
In the case of a child with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and similar neurodevelopmental conditions, because the brain is not functioning in a ‘typical’ way, typical development cannot be expected and an alternative path of development takes place, which is known as ‘atypical development’.
The path the child takes is often what the child’s brain choses as a short-cut; the easiest solution to get an immediate result. This may help in the short-term, but lacks quality and variety of movement which has negative consequences for long-term development.
‘Atypical’ development depends upon which part of the brain has been affected
The brain is made up many different areas.
What will characterise the ‘atypical’ development of a child depends upon which part of the brain has been affected and the way the brain has learnt to find an alternative way to do things, since the ‘typical’ process was not available.
Cerebral Palsy (CP) and many of the neurodevelopmental conditions can limit a child in very similar ways. However, the paths of their atypical development will be different, depending upon the specific ‘brain skills’ the child is missing and how that child’s brain has learnt to compensate.
Neurodevelopmental conditions can range from severe to very mild. The definitions of these conditions do not specify how severe or mild it can be for a child.
Sometimes a child may be incorrectly ‘labelled’
Sometimes a child with CP may be labelled as having Dyspraxia, Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or simply seen as being ‘clumsy or awkward’ because a brain dysfunction has not yet been specifically identified.
MAES Therapy treatment is available for children of all ages where a neurological problem prevents them from following a normal course of development.
MAES Therapy is an approach to optimise, with a long-term view, the development of babies and children with a variety of neurodevelopmental conditions conditions such as Cerebral Palsy (CP).
At MAES Therapy we always consider children as whole, capable and competent human beings, appreciating their challenges but finding ways to open the possibilities for different and better outcomes.
We hope that this has gone some way to explaining ‘What is Cerebral Palsy?’
Maes J-P 2017
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