Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury to the brain before, during or shortly after birth. In many cases, no one knows for sure what caused the injury or what may have been done to prevent it but the lesion to the brain is non-progressive and may be due to lack of oxygen, trauma, low blood sugar and congenital malformations such as cysts and neuronal migration deficits.

It is important to know that CP is not a disease, or illness. It is not contagious and doesn’t get worse (or better). Children who have CP will have it all their lives.

Cerebral means anything in the head, and palsy refers to anything wrong with the control of the muscles or joints in the body. If a child has cerebral palsy it means that because of an injury to their brain they are not able to use some of the muscles in the body. Children who have CP may not be able to walk, talk eat or play in the same way as most other kids.

Just as CP can affect the way a person moves their arms and legs, it can also affect the way they move their mouth, face and head. This can make it hard for the person to talk clearly and to bite, chew and swallow food. It is difficult for a CP child to control his/her speech because she is not able to make his/her lips, jaw and tongue move as quickly as ours.


Make a “g” sound. To do that, you must pull your tongue back and touch the back of your tongue to the back part of the roof of your mouth. Then, you must breathe out a little but not let the breath through until you are ready to make the sound. When you say “guh” let you tongue drop while letting the breath out and turning on your voice. And that is just for one sound!

Imagine what it is like for a CP child to put together a sentence?

With thanks to Dr Paul Gebers
M.Med (UCT) FC Paeds SA

“A Child’s Faith”

I was born prematurely at 28 weeks, on the 29th July 1992. As a result of this, I have had Cerebral Palsy all my life. I often get frustrated because I can’t run around like other people.

I am unable to eat on my own, and I do all my schoolwork on the computer. I receive Physiotherapy and Occupational therapy at school and they help me a lot.

I need help with going to the toilet, dressing myself and eating. This is very frustrating.

I love reading, Gospel music, swimming and I used to do horse riding for the disabled.

I am a very good Christian, and I love going to church and learning about Jesus and the wonderful creator that he is.

Sarah Mackay
Port Elizabeth, October 2006

Sandy Coffey ~ Photographic Commissions

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