There is no reason to believe that the history of cerebral palsy is fairly recent. It is highly possible that the condition could have been around for ages. The only problem was that it may not have been documented well in history books. Documentation of the disorder only happened a little over a century ago.

The first written account of cerebral palsy was in 1861. Dr. William Little, an English surgeon, observed a condition that afflicted children. It was characterized by muscle stiffening accompanied by spasms. The children he had observed had problems moving properly and holding objects. He came to call this condition Little’s Disease.

In time, this condition came to be called spastic diplegia. This is only one of the sub categories of the spastic type of cerebral palsy. Those with spastic diplegia suffer from a stiffening of muscles and tremors. This condition affects the lower limbs more than the upper ones. It was Sir William Osler who may have come up with the current term, cerebral palsy to include all other types of the condition.

During the early history of cerebral palsy, people believed in what Little suggested were possible causes. His limited observations led him to believe that the condition was related to difficult births. According to Little, the baby may have taken too long in the birth canal, resulting in a lack of oxygen. This is therefore the main reason for brain damage and cerebral palsy. Little’s theory seemed so plausible that it became the popular belief during his time.

More than three decades later however, the history of cerebral palsy began to take a different turn. It was in 1897 when Austrian psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud disputed the findings of Little. As Freud observed, children with cerebral palsy manifested other symptoms than those first documented by Little. Some children for example suffered from mental retardation and sensory impairments. This led Freud to believe that the condition could develop even before a child is born.

Freud’s theory however was not very popular. For many more decades, it was Little’s theory that prevailed. Surprisingly, it was only in the 1980s that it was found out that Little was not entirely correct. Freud too was not completely on the mark. A large study that involved thousands of births found out that birth complications may be a cause of cerebral palsy. Only a very small percentage of cerebral palsy cases however, could be attributed to difficult births. It was also found out that there was no single major cause of cerebral palsy.

Today, the history of cerebral palsy is once again being rewritten. Researchers are currently looking into other possible causes of cerebral palsy. Although there is no one single major cause for the condition, there have been possible causes that have been identified. These possible causes include birth difficulties, maternal infections during pregnancy, head trauma after birth and infant bacterial and viral infections.

It may take a lot of time before current research can contribute to the history of cerebral palsy. There is great hope though. Advancements in research and science can only lead to a better understanding of the condition.

Cerebral Palsy Therapy Tip #1

Get Help – Taking care of someone with cerebral palsy is a lot of hard work. Occasionally you have to take a break and spend some time alone. Ask family and friends for help and teach them how to do what you do so you can get away for a while.

Cerebral Palsy Therapy Tip #2

Stay Positive – Cerebral palsy is not a disease and will not get progressively worse. Accepting the condition for what it is and keeping a positive outlook will make life easier for you and the person you are caring for.