Page last updated at 07:36 GMT, Tuesday, 14 April 2009 08:36 UK

Cause celeb: Neville on cerebral palsy

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"When she took her first 15 steps it was like a little miracle"

High profile names can help raise awareness of a disease or condition, and bring it under the spotlight.

This video series talks to those in the public eye about their personal reasons for speaking out.

Football star Phil Neville speaks out about his daughter, Isabella's, cerebral palsy. He talks about the challenges and rewards of family life.

He shares his joy when she took her first steps, despite the doctor's odds.

Five years ago, Isabella was born ten weeks prematurely, weighing 3lb 3oz (1kg 445g). She spent her first few weeks of life fighting for life in a special care baby unit.

Isabella survived, but at 18 months she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy - a disability caused by damage to the brain before or during birth.

Possible stroke

An MRI scan showed that Isabella had probably suffered a stroke in the womb about six months into the pregnancy. This has affected her movement control and co-ordination.

From these difficult experiences, Phil knows the heartbreak of having to kiss your daughter goodbye every night to return home, which he why is a patron of The New Children's Hospital Appeal.

He is helping raise money which will fund state-of-the-art equipment and a family accommodation block.

The appeal currently stands at £18m and aims to raise £20m by June 2009, when the hospital opens.

The midfielder is currently Everton's captain.

Everton will play Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley on Sunday, 19 April.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a physical condition that affects movement. It is not a disease or an illness. There are several causes, although the most common is failure of part of the brain to develop - perhaps because a blocked blood vessel or complications in labour.

CEREBRAL PALSY FACTS
it is the most common form of disability in children
around one in every 400 babies in Britain are born with it each year
the incidence rate increases to one in 20 for babies with a birth weight under 1500g

No two people with cerebral palsy are the same. Some people have cerebral palsy so mildly that its effects are barely noticeable. Other people may be severely affected.

Cerebral palsy is not degenerative; it does not become more severe as the child gets older.

People with more complex forms of cerebral palsy can have a range of impairments including mobility, visual and hearing impairments, learning difficulties, epilepsy and other medical needs.

Cerebral palsy is a permanent condition. However, there are various therapies available that can sometimes help alleviate its effects.

Physiotherapy can help with posture and movement.

Speech and language therapy helps with speech development and also eating, drinking and swallowing.

Occupational therapy helps children overcome difficulties performing everyday tasks, encouraging them to lead independent lives.

Children with cerebral palsy do best when they get special help from an early age. Because the brain changes a lot during the first few years of life, it can be difficult to assess the extent of cerebral palsy at first, but most experts suggest babies should be first assessed about nine to 12 months.




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