CEREBRAL PALSY (CP)

About the Condition

Cerebral palsy occurs when parts of the brain that control muscles are damaged, causing varying degrees of lifelong disability.  There is a wide spectrum disability within CP, ranging from mild physical disabilities to more severe cognitive and physical disabilities both.

CP is usually caused by factors prior to birth: lack of oxygen passed to the child before birth, via infection spreading from mother to baby or by genetic disorder.

Those not born with CP may develop it if they are infants who are extremely jaundiced, or suffer from infections to the brain like meningitis or from seizures or head injuries.

Symptoms

People with CP tend to fall into three categories of symptoms.

  • Spastic with stiff, tight, contracted muscles.
  • Dyskinesia, also called athetoid, with uncontrollable, convulsive movements.
  • Ataxic with poor gait and coordination.

Individuals with CP may fall solely in one category or have a combination of all three, with different ranges of severity.  Some will only have the limbs on one side of the body effected, others will have all four limbs equally effected and still others may have all four limbs affected with legs more severely than arms.

Other symptoms may include:

  • IQ below normal.
  • Ability to feed oneself may be severely limited.

Useful Tips for Patients & Caregivers

Start occupational and physical therapy early.  Occupational and physical therapy can train your child how to coordinate movement, assist with posture and loosen tendons to ease pain and prevent shrinkage of scar tissue.  Caregivers should be present and an active part of the treatment plan

The following tips may help too:

  • Provide help with mobility around the home or when on outside visits.
  • A walking frame, walking stick or wheelchair may help with these activities, depending on the degree of disability the patient may have due to cerebral palsy.
  • Ensure assistance is provided with personal care.
  • Visiting nurses, caregivers and occupational therapists can assist with ways of adjusting to incontinence.

Selecting the Right Chair

It is very important that the chair is adjustable to allow it to meet the changing needs of the person as their condition changes. Cognitive difficulties may reduce their ability to ‘learn’ new products and operations and so having a chair that will adjust and to which you can add accessories will ensure continuity and familiarity.

The Phoenix™ chair in particular is designed to suit the needs of those with cerebral palsy.  This Seating Matters chair is highly adjustable and accessories can be included at a later date if they are not needed at the initial assessment.  This allows the chair to meet changing patient needs over a long period of time.  The Phoenix chair is also available as part of our Kidz Range, as well as for adults.

Individuals with cerebral palsy need a lot of upper body support and the Phoenix can provide that.  With its shoulder support and headrests, the head is protected and ensures that the spine is properly aligned.  The Phoenix chair is also available as part of our Kidz Range.

The Phoenix comes in manual and powered options. Manual adjustment leaves the control of the seating positions to the caregiver.  Partially motorized options give the user of the chair more independent control to change the angle of tilt in space and their leg elevation as and when desired.  Fully motorized options give the user of the chair control to change the angle of tilt in space, their leg elevation and the back angle recline as and when desired.

Bear in mind, each person is different and so you must use clinical judgement, knowledge of the patient, environmental considerations and personal preferences before deciding on which Seating Matters chair to use.