05 OCT 2016
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Medical / Therapeutic

To understand the medical / therapeutic issues surrounding people with cerebral palsy (CP), it is best to divide the discussion the three basic building blocks of care: cause, diagnosis and treatment.

The 3 medical and therapeutic issues

Addressing the cause

There is no single cause of CP, rather, a sequence of events, either before, during or after birth that can lead to an injury in a baby’s developing brain. For most babies born with CP in developed countries, the cause remains unknown. Only a very few are as a result of complications at birth (e.g. asphyxia or lack of oxygen).

In the developing world, the number of preventable cases of CP is much higher and could be addressed if mothers and babies had better access to good medical care, and if primary clinicians had access to better information and tools. That is a problem that we can begin to solve right now.

Early diagnosis

There is no single test that offers a definitive diagnosis of CP. Effective diagnosis may involve a combination of tests such as a CT scan or MRI (which are not widely available) and clinical assessment (for which many primary care givers have not been trained). The net impact is that CP is often diagnosed too late. That means that children miss the vital care and motor enrichment during the critical months of brain development after birth and, possibly, the opportunity to lessen the impact of CP.

Effective treatment

While many governments offer healthcare for all, access to specialised therapy is not universally available. There are very specific physical, occupational, speech and cognitive therapies that have proven most successful for people with CP. Even when the condition is diagnosed early, too many of our community members lack access to the therapies they need. Not just during monthly, weekly or daily clinical visits, but for the other 99% of a person’s life when they are at home with family members and caregivers.

Clearly, more progress must be made in CP research, but we can also have an immediate impact by simply providing better information to the critical medical and therapeutic specialists that are on the front line of care. Tools and guides that translate evidence for these professionals (and people with CP and family members) that cut through the noise and provide clarity about CP diagnosis and treatment are vitally important.


Stories of change

New developments in CP diagnosis and knowledge about the best evidence-based treatment:


Dr Brian Hoare - CPtoys

It takes passion and dedication to innovate a game-changing tool for children with cerebral palsy (CP), traits that Dr Brian Hoare has in abundance. His CPtoys™ app makes toys-as-therapy an easy choice.

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Dr Gulam Khandaker

Cerebral Palsy (CP) Registers play a critical role in the provision of accurate data for public health planning and interventions. Meet Dr Gulam Khandaker whose dreams of a CP Register in Bangladesh are taking shape.

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Mother with newborn baby in the hospital

A team of experts is creating leading-edge international guidelines that are set to revolutionise the time it takes to diagnose cerebral palsy in very young children.

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Dr Cathy Morgan

A simple but intensive program is the basis of ground breaking research in Australia to help improve outcomes for infants with cerebral palsy (CP).

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A successful community-based participatory training program is creating better futures for young children with cerebral palsy and their families in Uganda.

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Dr Iona Novak

An international effort is underway to create a series of clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and most effective interventions for cerebral palsy.

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Dr Christa Einspieler

Making early diagnosis more accessible, so that babies with CP can get a head-start on life.

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About cerebral palsy

Use these infographic posters about cerebral palsy to educate and inform doctors, teachers and other members of the community.

What is cerebral palsy? infographic

Cerebral palsy: diagnosis and treatment infographic