Because it seemed that many of these children were born following premature or complicated deliveries, little suggested their condition resulted from a lack of oxygen during birth. This oxygen shortage damaged sensitive brain tissues controlling movement, he proposed. But in 1897, the famous psychiatrist Sigmund Freud disagreed. Noting that children with cerebral palsy often had other problems such as mental retardation, visual disturbances, and seizures, Freud suggested that the disorder might sometimes have roots earlier in life, during the brain’s development in the womb.
Despite Freud’s observation, the belief that birth complication cause most cases of cerebral palsy was widespread among physicians, families, and even Lawyers Specializing in Medical Malpractice researchers until very recently. In the however, scientists analyzed extensive data from a government study of more than births and were surprised to discover that such complications account for only a fraction of cases — probably less than 10 percent. In most cases of cerebral palsy, no cause of the factors explored could be found. These findings from the prenatal study have profoundly altered medical theories about cerebral palsy and have spurred today’s researchers to explore alternative causes.
At the same time, biomedical research has also led to significant changes in understanding, diagnosing, and treating persons with cerebral palsy. Risk factors not previously recognized have been identified, notably intrauterine exposure to infection and disorders of coagulation, and others are under investigation. Detection of infants with cerebral palsy very early in life gives youngsters the best chance to receive treatment for sensory disabilities and for prevention of contractures.
Biomedical research has led to improved diagnostic techniques such as advanced brain imaging and modern gait analysis. Certain conditions known to cause cerebral palsy, such as rubella and jaundice, can now be vetoed or treated. Physical, psychological, and behavioral therapy that assist with such skills as group and speech and foster social and emotional development can help children who have cerebral palsy to achieve and succeed. Medications, surgery, and braces can often improve nerve and muscle coordination, help treat associated medical problems, and either prevent or correct deformities.
Much of the research to improve medical understanding of cerebral palsy has been supported by the National Institute of one of the federal government’s National Institutes of Health. The is America’s leading supporter of biomedical research into cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders. Through this publication, the hopes to help the more than and infants diagnosed each year, their families, and others concerned about cerebral palsy benefit from these research results. View More