Cerebral Palsy Research
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Scientists and researchers are continuously working on a cure for cerebral palsy, but a lot of the current research is focussed on developing a better understanding of the disorder, identifying risk factors and causes, and finding and creating advanced treatment options.
About Cerebral Palsy Research
The majority of research on cerebral palsy in the United States is led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its counterpart, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is also actively researching this disorder.
The vast amount of work being done by these organizations makes up the bulk of what people know about cerebral palsy today. With studies still ongoing, there is a general focus on the following:
Genetic Defects Research
In some instances, genetic defects are responsible for a child developing cerebral palsy. Scientists are attempting to identify how genetic factors may do this by collecting DNA samples from those who currently have the condition, along with samples from their family members.
Sophisticated screening techniques are used to evaluate the collected samples. Scientists can then search for links that might explain the way cerebral palsy develops in individuals with certain specific genetic abnormalities.
White Matter Damage Research
Cerebral palsy is most commonly caused by damage to the white matter in the brain, specifically in the area surrounding the ventricles. This is the part of the brain most commonly affected in cerebral palsy.
Researchers are working to develop effective strategies to prevent white matter damage. They are currently using mouse models and cell-based therapies in an attempt to prevent the perinatal white matter damage that causes cerebral palsy.
Botulinum toxin, more commonly known as Botox, is frequently used to treat children with cerebral palsy who suffer from severe spastic movements. Scientists continue to research the benefits of Botox, particularly its effectiveness in helping with daily vibration treatments and improving the bone structure of the lower leg.
Constraint-induced therapy (CIT)
Constraint-induced therapy (CIT) is a promising new form of therapy for cerebral palsy. It involves putting the child’s stronger limb in a cast, which forces the weaker limb to work more during routine activities and exercises.
NICHD-backed research on CIT is helping physicians determine the most effective methods to help children, as well as the various levels of training the child’s weak limbs should undergo in order to achieve the best results.
Other treatment options for cerebral palsy that NIH is currently researching include:
- Systemic hypothermia
- Functional electrical stimulation (FES)
Non-Government Research on Cerebral Palsy
In addition to in-depth research provided by the NIH, non-governmental agencies also conduct research in an attempt to help children with cerebral palsy live better lives.
The March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization that is carrying out ongoing studies aimed at the prevention of premature births and birth defects, both of which heighten the risk of cerebral palsy.
The Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation
The Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation, also a non-profit organization, assists in funding studies, which will enhance current understanding of the causes of cerebral palsy, formulate better treatment options, and ultimately find a cure for the disorder.