Cerebral Palsy History

Knowing cerebral palsy history can be helpful in order to become more familiar with various terms from the past that others may still use.

But it is also interesting to note how little has been known about this condition for so long.

Since 1860 when documented cerebral palsy history officially began, not much research or study had been done until the late 1900's. Even now, there is still much that is unknown. Therefore, even if your doctor gives you a grim prognosis for your child, realize that the medical community does not have all the answers.

According to the National Institutes of Health, documented cerebral palsy history began in the 1860's. An English surgeon named William Little wrote the first medical descriptions of a disorder that struck children in the first years of life, causing stiff, spastic muscles in their legs and, to a lesser degree, in their arms.

These children had difficulty grasping objects, crawling, and walking. Unlike other diseases known at that time that affect the brain, however, this condition did not get worse as the children grew older. Their disabilities stayed relatively the same.

This disorder, which was called Little's disease, is now known as spastic diplegia. Spastic diplegia is just one of a group of disorders that affect the brain's control of movement. These disorders are gathered under the umbrella term of "cerebral palsy." Click here for the cerebral palsy definition.

Because it seemed that many of Little's patients were born following premature or complicated deliveries, Little suggested that their condition was the result of oxygen deprivation during birth, which damaged sensitive brain tissues controlling movement.

In 1897, the psychiatrist Sigmund Freud disagreed. Noting that children with cerebral palsy often had other neurological problems such as mental retardation, visual disturbances, and seizures, Freud suggested that the disorder might have roots earlier in life, during the brain's development in the womb. "Difficult birth, in certain cases," Freud wrote, "is merely a symptom of deeper effects that influence the development of the fetus."

In the same way, many professionals today believe that seizures are a cause of brain damage. In fact, it is more likely that they are a symptom of the brain injury itself, along with visual problems, sensory problems, and even a difficult birth (as Freud suggested).

In spite of Freud's observation, the belief that birth complications caused most cases of cerebral palsy was widespread among physicians, families, and even medical researchers for many decades.

In the 1980s, scientists funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke analyzed extensive data from more than 35,000 newborns and their mothers, and discovered that complications during birth and labor accounted for less than 10 percent of the infants born with cerebral palsy. In most cases, they could find no single, obvious cause. Click here for more on causes of cerebral palsy.

This finding challenged the accepted medical theory about the cause of cerebral palsy. It also stimulated researchers to search for other factors before, during, and after birth that were associated with the disorder.

Hopefully some facts about cerebral palsy may be found that could help reduce the occurrence of this brain disorder.

Understanding cerebral palsy history may be interesting.

But, when you are faced with a child with cerebral palsy, the pressing question is not what factors are associated with cerebral palsy, but what can be done about helping your child to get better.

There is hope for your child to get better.

To learn more about Cerebral Palsy, please investigate the following links:

Click here for the Cerebral Palsy Guide

Click here for Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis

Click here for Cerebral Palsy Causes

Click here for Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

Click here for Cerebral Palsy Prognosis

Return from Cerebral Palsy History to Cerebral Palsy Guide