Glossary

acquired cerebral palsy — cerebral palsy that occurs as a result of injury to the brain after birth or during early childhood.

Apgar score — a numbered scoring system doctors use to assess a baby’s physical state at the time of birth.

asphyxia — a lack of oxygen due to trouble with breathing or poor oxygen supply in the air.

ataxia— the loss of muscle control.

athetoid — making slow, sinuous, involuntary, writhing movements, especially with the hands.

bilirubin — a bile pigment produced by the liver of the human body as a byproduct of digestion.

bisphosphonates — a family of drugs that strengthen bones and reduce the risk of bone fracture in elderly adults.

botulinum toxin — a drug commonly used to relax spastic muscles; it blocks the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that energizes muscle tissue.

cerebral — relating to the two hemispheres of the human brain.

cerebral dysgenesis — defective brain development.

choreoathetoid — a condition characterized by aimless muscle movements and involuntary motions.

congenital cerebral palsy — cerebral palsy that is present at birth from causes that have occurred during fetal development.

contracture — a condition in which muscles become fixed in a rigid, abnormal position, which causes distortion or deformity.

developmental delay — behind schedule in reaching the milestones of early childhood development.

dyskinetic — the impairment of the ability to perform voluntary movements, which results in awkward or incomplete movements.

dystonia (dystonic) a condition of abnormal muscle tone.

gait analysis — a technique that uses cameras, force plates, electromyography, and computer analysis to objectively measure an individual’s pattern of walking.

gestation — the period of fetal development from the time of conception until birth.

hemiparesis — paralysis affecting only one side of the body.

hypertonia — increased muscle tone.

hypotonia — decreased muscle tone.

hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy — brain damage caused by poor blood flow or insufficient oxygen supply to the brain.

intracranial hemorrhage — bleeding in the brain.

intrathecal baclofen — baclofen that is injected into the cerebrospinal fluid of the spinal cord to reduce spasticity.

jaundice — a blood disorder caused by the abnormal buildup of bilirubin in the bloodstream.

kyphosis — a humpback-like outward curvature of the upper spine.

lordosis — an increased inward curvature of the lower spine.

orthotic devices — special devices, such as splints or braces, used to treat posture problems involving the muscles, ligaments, or bones.

osteopenia — reduced density and mass of the bones.

palsy — paralysis, or the lack of control over voluntary movement.

-paresis or -plegia — weakness or paralysis.  In cerebral palsy, these terms are typically combined with other phrases that describe the distribution of paralysis and weakness; for example, quadriplegia means paralysis of all four limbs.

periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) — “peri” means near; “ventricular” refers to the ventricles or fluid spaces of the brain; and “leukomalacia” refers to softening of the white matter of the brain.   PVL is a condition in which the cells that make up white matter die near the ventricles.  Under a microscope, the tissue looks soft and sponge-like.

placenta — an organ that joins a mother with her unborn baby and provides nourishment and sustenance.

quadriplegia — paralysis of both the arms and legs.

Rh incompatibility — a blood condition in which antibodies in a pregnant woman’s blood attack fetal blood cells and impair an unborn baby’s supply of oxygen and nutrients.

rubella — (also known as German measles) a viral infection that can damage the nervous system of an unborn baby if a mother contracts the disease during pregnancy.

scoliosis — a disease of the spine in which the spinal column tilts or curves to one side of the body.

selective dorsal rhizotomy — a surgical procedure in which selected nerves are severed to reduce spasticity in the legs.

spastic (or spasticity) — describes stiff muscles and awkward movements.

spastic diplegia (or diparesis) — a form of cerebral palsy in which spasticity affects both legs, but the arms are relatively or completely spared.

spastic hemiplegia (or hemiparesis) — a form of cerebral palsy in which spasticity affects an arm and leg on one side of the body.

spastic quadriplegia (or quadriparesis) — a form of cerebral palsy in which all four limbs are paralyzed or weakened equally.

tremor — an involuntary trembling or quivering.

 

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