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World Cerebral Palsy Day: What is cerebral palsy and understanding more about the lifelong disability

World Cerebral Palsy Day takes place annually on 6 October to raise awareness for those who suffer with the disability.

There are more than 17 million people across the world living with cerebral palsy and another 350 million people who are closely connected to someone with cerebral palsy.

What is cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a permanent disability that affects movement and is most commonly diagnosed in early childhood.  There are a number of different causes of cerebral palsy. Some are unavoidable and others are avoidable if women and babies receive appropriate medical care during pregnancy, labour and/or delivery. Its impact can range from a weakness in one hand, to almost a complete lack of voluntary movement.

The effect in numbers

Cerebral palsy is a complex and lifelong disability requiring varying degrees of support, care, equipment and therapies depending on the level of the disability.

Its impact means:

  • One in four children with cerebral palsy cannot talk
  • One in four cannot walk
  • One in two have an intellectual disability
  • One in four have epilepsy.

Why is World Cerebral Palsy Day important?

Cerebral palsy is not a disease

In order to correctly examine cerebral palsy, it's important to note what it's not - a disease. In fact, CP is considered a disorder. The effects of CP change from person to person. 

Promoting inclusion 

One of the big goals of World Cerebral Palsy Day is to promote more inclusive societies for people with CP. One way to accomplish this is to educate the world on the idea that CP isn't some isolated disorder. World Cerebral Palsy Day is an opportunity to produce actions that will lead to more open minds and societies.

Tackling big issues 

Cerebral palsy is a worldwide disorder affecting millions of people, primarily children. Global organisations are collaborating to take on the big issues that CP sufferers and their families, loved ones and carers face. According to World Cerebral Palsy Day organisers, there is an active group of families and organisations in 65 countries working on improved CP diagnosis and treatment, better quality of life, educational opportunities, and charitable contributions to fund continued research.

What support is available

One such charity is Heel & Toe Charity based in the North East. It provides a range of therapies to children with physical disabilities and complex needs. Its services include hydrotherapy, massage therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy.  The charity rely on the good will and donations of people to provide these essential services.

Action Cerebral Palsy is a charity which has sought to establish the facts about what early care is available for children with cerebral palsy. It aims to be a source of practical information about the care, services and support available to the child and families at each stage of the journey.

At Irwin Mitchell we help support children and families following a cerebral palsy diagnoses, helping to secure access to the life-long care, support and therapies people need. 

You can find out more about our expertise in supporting families affected by cerebral palsy and other maternity care issues at our dedicated medical negligence section.