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Disabilities Defined

Cerebral Palsy is the result of a number of conditions that can occur before, during, and immediately after birth. CP is characterized by several different signs. Abnormal movement of muscles, with the inability to control these movements, is the result of malfunction of the nerves. There is often an increase in the reflex response so that a loud noise or sudden movement may cause an increased startle reflex. Some of the disabilities associated with cerebral palsy are mental retardation, impaired behavioral and interpersonal relationships, seizures, orthopedic complications, and impairment of special senses (blindness or deafness). Cerebral palsy is not contagious and does not progress. There are often complications which make corrective surgery necessary. It is not hereditary.

When a child is born with an incomplete spinal column, the condition is known as Spina Bifida. The bones of the spinal column do not meet and the spinal cord may be injured. Defects of the lower body result and often legs, hips, and internal organs don't function. The hole in the spinal column is closed surgically at birth, but the injury remains. Spina bifida is not contagious and does not progress. Sometimes, as the child gets older, complications set in as a result of the internal defect.

Muscular Dystrophy refers to a group of inherited (genetic) diseases marked by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal, or voluntary, muscles that control movement. There are several different types of muscular dystrophy. They differ in severity, the age of onset, and the rate at which the symptoms progress.

Lesch-Nyhan Disease (LND) is a hereditary disorder of metabolism which has many of the symptoms of cerebral palsy. It is not contagious. Lesch Nyhan Disease was first reported by Michael Lesch M.D. and William L. Nyhan M. D. P.H.D. in 1964 when they described two affected brothers. LND is a rare condition that is caused by a defective gene on the X chromosome. The condition can be inherited, or can occur spontaneously via a genetic mutation. Since the defective gene is recessive, females almost never exhibit the disease, but may be carriers. There are only two documented cases of females with LND in the world's literature and various mutations have been hypothesized for this rare occurrence. LND appears to be distributed evenly among races and geographic locales and occurs in approximately one of every 380,000 births. As a consequence there are only several hundred individuals with LND currently living in the United States.