Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about cerebral palsy and UCP of Long Island

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. It is not a disease. It is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during fetal development, before, during, or shortly after birth, or during infancy.

Are there many types of CP?

Doctors classify cerebral palsy into three principal categories according to the type of movement disturbance:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy is characterized by muscle stiffness and permanent contractions.
  • Athetoid or dyskinetic cerebral palsy is characterized by uncontrolled, slow, writhing movements, usually affecting the hands, feet, arms or legs and, in some cases, the muscles of the face and tongue. Persons affected may also have problems coordinating the muscle movements needed for speech, a condition known as dysarthria.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy affects balance and depth perception resulting in poor coordination, an unsteady gait, and difficulty when attempting quick or precise movements. It is not unusual to have symptoms of more than one of the three forms.
What causes CP?

Congenital cerebral palsy results from brain injury during pregnancy, labor or birth. Among the causes is an insufficient amount of oxygen reaching the fetal or newborn brain. Some risk factors may be associated with premature birth, low birth weight, blood type incompatibility between mother and infant, and infections of the mother early in pregnancy. Cerebral palsy is generally present at birth, although may not be detected for months. Head injury is the most frequent cause of what is known as acquired cerebral palsy, usually the result of trauma to the brain, motor vehicle accidents, falls or child abuse.

What are the effects of CP?

Depending on which areas of the brain have been damaged, one or more of the following may occur: muscle tightness or spasticity, involuntary movement, disturbance in gait or mobility, difficulty in swallowing, problems with speech, abnormal sensation and perception, impairment of sight, hearing or speech, seizures, and/or mental retardation. Other problems that may arise are difficulties in feeding, bladder and bowel control, problems with breathing because of postural difficulties, skin disorders because of pressure sores, and learning disabilities.

How many people have cerebral palsy in the U.S.?

It is estimated that between 1.5 to 2 million children and adults have cerebral palsy in the United States. Each year, 10,000 infants and babies are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. An additional 1,200 to 1,500 preschool age children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year.

Does UCP of Long Island serve only individuals with cerebral palsy?

No. Only about 35 percent of those we serve have a form of CP. UCP provides programs and services to people with a wide variety of physical, developmental or acquired disabilities. We also serve individuals with any physical condition that severely limits their independence.

What services are available?

Services include physical, speech, and occupational therapies; early intervention; preschool and school age education; community residential and respite care programs; advocacy; information and referral; medical, dental and mental health; vocational evaluation and training; job placement and support; socialization programs; daily adult programs and services.

Who pays for these services?

Government agencies provide the bulk of UCP of Long Island’s income. The state of New York provides funds through the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). The remainder of UCP’s income is earned through special events, private grants, local and national donations from individuals, foundations and corporations.

How much of my donation will be used to fund programs?

UCP of Long Island is one of the most financially responsible organizations in the nation. Over 92 cents of every dollar is spent directly on programs and services for our participant population.

Isn’t United Cerebral Palsy a national organization?

Yes. As one of the largest health charities in America, United Cerebral Palsy works to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities through an affiliate network. UCP of Long Island is one of 100 national and international affiliates, but we receive NO funding from the national association, which focuses on advocacy, research and program development.

How can I get help from UCP of Long Island?

For general information please call 631-232-0011, follow the prompts to reach our professional staff. Adult Services can be reached directly at 631- 232-0011 ext. 601; Residential Services can be reached at 631-543-4500 and Educational Services can be reached at 631-543-2338. For more information, see Contact Us.

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