Cerebral Palsy: Myths and Facts

Myth: Children with cerebral palsy (CP) have mental retardation.

Fact:Only about half (50 percent) of those with cerebral palsy will also have mental retardation. Additionally, some individuals with CP have gifted levels of intelligence.

Myth: Children with cerebral palsy cannot speak clearly or understand what people say and cannot follow directions.

Fact:Even though children with cerebral palsy sometimes do not speak clearly, they can still understand what other people speak and also intellectually follow directions. Most children with cerebral palsy are very intelligent.

Myth: Cerebral palsy is contagious.

Fact:Cerebral palsy is not contagious.

Myth: Cerebral palsy does not appear in later life.

Fact: Cerebral palsy can appear in later life due to infections (meningitis, encephalitis) or due to severe head injury.

Myth: Cerebral palsy is treatable/curable.

Fact:Cerebral palsy is not curable because the disorder is caused byirreversible brain damage. However, the physical effects of the brain damage can be treated. Managing the disorder takes precedence in this case. Experts focus on helping the child gain as much independence as possible to be able to manage daily activities.

Myth: Cerebral palsy is a degenerative disorder.

Fact:Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive, non-degenerative disorder. That is, damage caused to the brain will not worsen with time. However, the symptoms may occur slowly, and there may be developmental delays.

Myth: Only injury during birth causes cerebral palsy.

Fact:Cerebral palsy may be caused due to birth injury or birth defect. A birth injury occurs when an infant's brain is damaged due to lack of oxygen during labor and delivery. A birth defect is the damage caused to the fetus due to various factors such as maternal infections or genetic malformations. Congenital cerebral palsy is caused due to brain damage that happens before or during birth. 

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