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Terms and Definitions

Cerebral Palsy Terms and Definitions

ABO Blood Type Incompatibility – Condition occurring when the mother's blood type does not match the blood type of her unborn child.

Acquired – A condition not present at birth

Adaptive Equipment – Any apparatus created to assist people with disabilities in daily life, such as crutches, wheelchairs, wheelchair lifts, hearing aids, etc. Existing equipment can also be changed by adding handles, grips, supports or other modifications to assist the disabled user.

Anoxia – Absence of oxygen supply to the organs or tissue of the body.

Asphyxia – A condition caused by the lack of oxygen supply or excess carbon dioxide that results in hypoxia.

Aphasia – A speech disorder involving the partial or total loss of the ability to communicate via speech or in written language.

APGAR Score – A means that Doctors use to evaluate a baby's health at birth and then again a few minutes following birth. The score assesses heart rate, respiratory effort, muscle tone, skin color and reflexes of the newborn.

Applied or Assistive Technology – Any technology or equipment used to assist people with disabilities to improve their abilities to function and perform.

Asphyxia Deprivation – Impaired breathing

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – A type of Cerebral Palsy where the individual exhibits decreased muscle tone and/or deficient muscle coordination

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy – Also known as Dyskenetic Cerebral Palsy, it is a type of Cerebral Palsy resulting from damage to the basal ganglia in the midbrain which results in mixed muscle tone in an individual. These individuals have slow, involuntary muscle movements and difficulty in holding the body in an upright position.

Atonic – without normal muscle tone or strength

Basal Ganglia – a region of the brain consisting of three groups of neurons that are responsible for involuntary movement.

Caesarean Section (C-Section) – The delivery of a fetus by surgically opening the abdominal and uterine walls of the mother. Emergency Caesarean Sections are performed if vaginal delivery is proving dangerous or difficult for the baby or the mother.

Central Nervous System – The part of the human nervous system consisting of the spinal cord and the brain. The spinal cord is the column of nerve tissue connecting to the brain that transmits nerve impulses to and from the brain.

Cerebral Cortex – The thin, gray covering of the surface of the brain. It is responsible for the processes of thought, perception and memory.

Cerebral Palsy – An abnormality of motor function that is caused by damage to or lack of development of the brain. It is typically acquired at an early age as the result of trauma before, during or just after birth.

Clonus – Rapidly alternating muscular contractions and relaxations occurring is some neuromuscular diseases.

Cognitive – The process of being aware, knowing, thinking, and learning.

Congenital – Condition present at birth.

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Cerebral Palsy Terms and Definitions Continued

Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) – This occurs when the mother contracts Rubella (German Measles) during her pregnancy and the fetus is infected by the virus. CRS causes nervous system damage in the fetus. Typically people are inoculated against Rubella in the United States.

Contracture – Condition when muscles are continuously contracted and become fixed in position.

Developmental Milestones – Anticipated or expected age at which children develop certain skills and/or abilities. Examples include walking, talking, toilet training, etc.

Diplegia – A type of Spastic Cerebral Palsy that affects the legs or lower extremities more severely than the upper extremities.

Down Syndrome – A congenital disorder in which there is an extra chromosome present in the child that affects mental and physical development.

Dysarthria – A speech disorder caused by paralysis, weakness or poor coordination of the muscles needed for speech.

Epilepsy – A disorder of the nervous system resulting in episodic seizures.

Erbs Palsy – Paralysis of the arm caused by injury to the nerves of the upper arm or brachial plexus, usually as the result of birth trauma.

Fetal Distress –A fetus does not get sufficient oxygen during the birth process. A lack of oxygen can cause brain damage or death.

Forceps – A tool similar to tongs that is sometimes used during child birth to grasp the fetus's head and assist delivery.

Gait Observation or Analysis – A means of objectively measuring a person's walk or stride that can assist in diagnosing Cerebral Palsy or other conditions.

Gastronomy – A surgical opening in the stomach to allow for nourishment.

Gastronomy Tube (G-Tube) – A tube inserted into the gastronomy thru which nutrients are fed.

Hemianopia – Blindness in one half of the eye's visual field in one or both eyes.

Hemiplegia – A type of Spastic Cerebral Palsy affecting one side of the body.

Hypertonia – Increased in tightness of muscle tone.

Hypotonia – Decrease in tightness of muscle tone.

Hypoxia – Fetal distress or a lack of oxygen to the fetus during birth.

Hypoxic-ischemic Encephalopathy – A condition which occurs when the brain does not receive enough oxygen.

Intraventricular Hemorrhage – Bleeding that occurs in or close to the ventricles of the brain.

Involuntary Movement – Motion or twitch that is not controlled by the brain. Frequent episodes of involuntary movement interfere with the body's ability to function.

Malformation – A defect in the body caused by abnormal development prior to birth.

Meningitis – Bacterial infection of the membranes in the spinal cord and brain.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy or Mixed-Type Cerebral Palsy – A type of Cerebral Palsy characterized by tight muscle tone associated with Spastic Cerebral Palsy and involuntary muscle movement associated with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.

Muscle Tone – The amount of tension or resistance of movement in a muscle.

Neonatal – The period of time just after birth, usually four weeks.

Neonatologist - A doctor who cares for premature or seriously ill babies.

Obstetrician – A medical practitioner who specializes in the care of women during pregnancy and childbirth.

Occupational Therapist – A medical professional who evaluates people who have joint or muscle conditions and recommends therapy or devices to aid these conditions.

Orthoses or Orthotic Devices – Mechanisms which assist the body in movement of joints, muscles or limbs. Examples include protective face masks, ankle, knee or spine braces.

Palsy or Paralysis – A total or partial loss of muscle function in the body.

Parasis or Plegia – Terms used to describe paralysis associated with Cerebral Palsy.

Paraplegia – A type of Spastic Cerebral Palsy that affects the legs or lower extremities.

Pediatrician – A medical practitioner specializing in the care of infants and children.

Premature Birth – A birth occurring prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Prematurity – A baby born prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Prenatal – Occurring prior to birth

Quadriplegia – A type of Spastic Cerebral palsy in which both the upper and lower extremities are affected by spasticity.

Reflex – An automatic muscle response to stimulus.

Rh Incompatibility – A condition that occurs when a mother has Rh negative blood and produces antibodies in response to the Rh positive blood of her fetus. These antibodies can attack the red blood cells of the fetus resulting in jaundice or low muscle tone in the child.

Seizure – Uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain that produces convulsions or changes in attention or behavior.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy – A type of Cerebral Palsy resulting from increased muscle tension resulting in difficulty in controlling muscle movement.

Spacticity – A state of increased tension in the muscles. This usually results in rigid, inflexible muscles impairing movement.

Stereognosia - Difficulty in identifying size and shape by the sense of touch.

Strabismus – A condition also known as "cross-eyes", or the inability to align the vision of both eyes on the same object at the same time.

Vacuum Extractor – A small rounded suction cup, accompanied by air flow, that is attached to the baby's head to aid in the delivery of an infant.

Ventouse – A vacuum device that is attached to a baby's head during child birth that assists in delivery when labor fails to progress.

White Matter – The part of the Central Nervous System containing neurons that are the channels of communication between grey matters of the brain and the grey matter of the brain and the rest of the body. White matter abnormalities are often linked to Cerebral Palsy.

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