United Cerebral Palsy

Giving birth to a child must be the happiest moment for any family. However, giving birth to a child with a permanent birth defect can take a huge emotional and financial toll on a family. Cerebral palsy is a permanent birth defect but with proper care its effects can be minimized, improving the person's functional abilities. According to an estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lifetime care for a person with cerebral palsy can cost as much as $1 million. The good news is that there is help out there both in terms of support groups and cerebral palsy lawyers.

A child is likely to develop cerebral palsy before birth. It is the disorder of movement, posture or muscle tone. It happens because the baby's brain hasn't matured and is either injured or has abnormal development. A person diagnosed with the disorder may also have seizures and show symptoms of hearing and vision problems and intellectual disabilities.

Some of the symptoms most commonly associated with cerebral palsy are:

  • Difficulty with specific motions
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty with eating, sucking and swallowing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty walking
  • Favoring one side of the body
  • Slow, writhing movements
  • Tremors
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Stiff muscles with normal or exaggerated reflexes
  • Either too stiff or floppy muscle tone

Cerebral palsy can be caused by a variety of reasons like:

  • Traumatic head injury
  • Infant infections
  • Lack of oxygen
  • Stroke
  • Maternal infections
  • Random mutations

United Cerebral Palsy Association (UCP)

The United Cerebral Palsy Association is a non-profit, advocacy organization with a mission. The mission is to provide assistance to those diagnosed with the disorder and their families to make affected lives as complete as possible. UCP's objective is to support and provide services to more than 176,000 adults and children every day. UCP aims to change the social mindset of people in relation to the way they perceive cerebral palsy and revolutionize care by raising standards of living and creating equal opportunities.

The association was founded by Nina Eaton, who started the Cerebral Palsy Association of New York State in 1946. UCP acquired its present name, United Cerebral Palsy Association in 1949. The association was formed in response to lack of cerebral palsy care and support system in New York. Eaton not only raised awareness by speaking out for the rights of those with the disorder but also lobbied on their behalf, resulting in favorable legislation.

Today the United Cerebral Palsy Association is an international network of almost 100 affiliates, serving thousands all over the world. You can now become a part of the network by working for them either as an employee or a volunteer. For more information on the Association's services, employment or volunteering opportunities, visit their website www.ucp.org/ or call them toll free at 1-800-872-5827 or 202-776-0406. You may also visit their office at 1825 K Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20006.

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