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Origin and History of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy has a rich and interesting history dating back thousands of years.

Evidence of CP has been uncovered in many historical places from the medical literature of ancient Greece, to mummies found in Egyptian tombs.

Although cerebral palsy has affected humans since antiquity, the modern understanding of condition was first studied in the mid-1800’s.

English surgeon Dr. William John Little was the first person to study CP extensively when he came across a mystifying condition affecting young children.

William Little wrote the first descriptions on cerebral palsy (which was unnamed at the time), which detailed a condition that caused stiff, spastic muscles in the legs and arms. His work culminated in 1861 with his paper which stated that “abnormal forms of labour,” in which the “child has been partially suffocated,” injures the nervous system and results in spastic rigidity and sometimes paralytic contraction.

This definition is the first one recorded of ‘Little’s Disease’, or what we have now come to know as spastic cerebral palsy.

Sigmund Freud made further developments on Little’s theory, stating that CP may be caused by abnormal development before birth as the brain developed in the womb.

He was also the first to unite the wide range of infantile motor impairments caused by abnormal brain development under one term: infantile cerebral palsy.

These medical theories are vital in the history of cerebral palsy and have since led the way for important breakthroughs in medicine, technology and therapies.

Throughout history, there have been numerous other notable individuals and organisations responsible for making developments toward helping those with cerebral palsy.

Changes in the law have promoted community based care instead of institutionalisation, modernised care, and prevented discrimination against those with disability.

In the media, we have seen actors, comedians and athletes with cerebral palsy all become more prominent, creating awareness and ensuring their voices are heard.

The increasing success in treatment and awareness of cerebral palsy is continuing to grow and contribute to its history to this day.

Express Solicitors has a specialist department that handles all cerebral palsy and birth injury cases, ensuring that only experts in the field are handling your child’s case. Contact us to make a cerebral palsy claim today.

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