Cerebral palsy is a disease caused by brain damage, usually manifested in early childhood and is characterized by motor disabilities: paralysis, muscle weakness, loss of coordination, involuntary movements. With Cerebral Palsy (CP), the affected motor and a number of other centers of the brain result in the inactivity of muscles of limbs, head, neck or torso. The severity of the symptoms depends on the extent of brain damage, ranging from mild, barely noticeable to extremely severe, leading to total disability. There may be seizures, mental retardation, problems of perception and learning. Sometimes the symptoms are broken sight, hearing, speech, and intellectual abilities.
Although a child with cerebral palsy often looks like mentally retarded, it’s not always the case. The disease is not inherited and not a direct cause of death, but also reduces life expectancy. Specific therapy does not exist.
The causes of Cerebral Palsy
The conditions close to cerebral palsy can occur at any age after infectious disease, stroke or traumatic brain injury. Child Cerebral Palsy is usually caused by lesions or injury of the brain before birth, during birth or immediately after birth. In many cases, the true cause remains unknown. Prenatal (antenatal) causes include infections during pregnancy, preeclampsia (late toxemia of pregnancy), and incompatibility of mother’s and fetus’ Rh blood factor. Other reasons are preterm delivery, neonatal asphyxia and birth trauma. Abnormally low birth weight significantly increases the probability of the disease. After birth, Cerebral Palsy is a consequence of traumatic brain injury or an infection, such as meningitis.
Forms of Cerebral Palsy
Classification of cerebral palsy is based on the nature of motor disorders and the extent to which they are spread.Here are types of movement disorders:
- Spastic Cerebral Palsy which is increased muscular tone, the severity of which decreases with repeated movements;
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – patients suffering with ataxic cerebral palsy can cause disturbed balance and depth in perception.
- Athetoid Cerebral Palsy which constitutes constant involuntary movements;
- Rigidity which results in tight, tense muscles, providing constant resistance to passive movements;
Approximately 85% of cases are spastic or athetoid type of violations. On the localization of symptoms, movement disorders are divided into four forms:
- monoplegic (with the involvement of one limb);
- hemiplegic (with partial or complete involvement of both limbs on one side of the body);
- diplegic (involving either both upper or both lower limbs);
- quadriplegic (with partial or complete involvement of all four limbs).
So, when you see the people who turn to you or anyone else, don’t panic and don’t go, please, and try to understand and help. After all, maybe this disabled person needs your help. And then this person can help you or will be your best friend.
Dear parents, who have disabled children, I am talking to you now. Never give up on the child, no matter how bad his condition is now. It is the parents’ duty to bring up any child. This is your test from God on the maturity of life, faith and love for this man. If you can teach such a child to live life, to have faith, love, wisdom, strength of spirit, you will receive the award in the future. Anyway, your child will appreciate you when he becomes an adult and an independent person.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
There are several symptoms of cerebral palsy. One of the early symptoms of cerebral palsy in case of infants is abnormal muscle tone which tends to favor one side of the body over other. It is difficult to detect cerebral palsy till the child reaches development milestones. Some of the early symptoms of spastic cerebral palsy are drawing in of arms and legs or difficulty faced in straightening of limbs of an infant.
Cerebral palsy symptoms tend to appear in eighteen months as the child progresses through typical developmental milestones. Children with cerebral palsy tend to show delays in mastering of expected motor skills such as sitting up, rolling over, smiling or crawling.
Symptoms of cerebral palsy are not the same for every child and it even depends on the severity of the condition. One cannot say that an infant suffers from cerebral palsy because of lack of mobility in them.
One of the major symptoms of cerebral palsy is delay in the development of the child. As the child grows they will reach certain milestones from a baby until early childhood and in case you are not witnessing some of the milestones in your child then you need to take them to a physician.
Some of the symptoms and associated conditions with cerebral palsy are as follows:
- Breathing problems
- Mentally challenged
- Speech, vision or hearing impairments
How is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?
Cerebral palsy can be diagnosed very early during infancy. Premature birth, health problems, and genetics all play a role in children later developing symptoms of cerebral palsy. Doctors who recognize these problems in children usually monitor the patient closely so they can address any developing problems as soon as possible.
Cerebral Palsy can be more difficult to recognize for children without the history of developing this problem. Doctors will usually wait up to the first year of life and see if the child has delayed motor development.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with cerebral palsy include abnormal muscle tone, poorly coordinated muscle movement, uncoordinated muscle and infant reflexes way beyond the age that these movements should have disappeared.
Treatment is still being researched to this day. Most patients suffering with cerebral palsy can be provided with therapy and other methods. This is because there is still no known cure.
Developmental therapy will help the children suffering from cerebral palsy will help patient achieve maximum potential in growth as well as development. This is the reason that as soon as a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you should go to therapy to learn movement, speech, learning, hearing, emotional, and social development.
Cerebral palsy or CP is an abnormality in the function of the motor and postural tone that is obtained at a very early age or even before a child’s birth. The signs and symptoms of this disorder would usually appear in the first year of a child’s life.
This disorder in a human’s motor system is the outcome of non-progressive brain lesions. The motor system of our body gives the ability for us to move and control our movements. A brain lesion is an abnormality of the structure or function of the brain, and a non-progressive brain lesion means that it does not product an ongoing degeneration of our brain. It also indicates that brain lesion is the result of a brain injury that only happens once in a lifetime that will never happen again. Whatever the severity of the brain damage is on a person, it will also determine the extent of the damage that it will pose to them for the rest of their life.
Approximately one to three out of one thousand children that are born are affected with Cerebral palsy. But the condition is more likely to show on premature babies and babies that are born underweight.
There are new treatment procedures that actually succeeded in an enhanced survival rate of premature babies and babies that are underweight. However, these new treatment procedures have not changed the rate of cerebral palsy cases in full term born children and with children that weighs normally.
Why cerebral palsy?
There are several possible causes of cerebral palsy, and the term cerebral palsy does not really indicate its cause or the indication of a child that has the condition.
In cases of cerebral palsy in full term infants, the usual cause of the disorder would relate to the mother’s prenatal condition and is really not related with the things that have happened during the time of the delivery of the baby. In most cases, it is related to the things that have happened during the time of pregnancy of the mother while the fetus is still developing inside their womb.
The most common cause of cerebral palsy is premature birth among babies. The brain of a premature baby is more vulnerable to bleeding, and when the condition is severe enough it can lead to cerebral palsy. Premature babies also have a big chance of developing serious problems in the lungs because of the immature and under developed lungs. This can also lead to instances of lesser oxygen that is delivered to brain which can result to cerebral palsy.
The slow development of the brain in premature babies is called periventricular leukomalacia, this disorder forms holes in the white matter on the brain of a premature baby. The white matter is very essential for the normal transmission of signals that goes throughout the whole brain, and the signals coming from the brain going through the whole body.
In most cases of cerebral palsy, abnormalities in the white matter are observed. And it is very important for people to know that not all the premature babies will suffer from cerebral palsy. There are already new advancements that were made in the field of neonatology or the study of problems that affects newborn children which can increase the chance of survival of premature infants.
Other causes of cerebral palsy would include unwanted accidents that affect the underdeveloped brain, infections on the brain, stroke due to blood clots or abnormal blood vessels and genetic disorders.
Treatment of Cerebral Palsy
Treatment of cerebral palsy involves different treatment which ranges from psychotherapy to physical therapy to speech therapy.
Treatment options for cerebral palsy include the following
In case of cerebral palsy patients, speech therapy can help in developing better control over jaw and mouth muscles which can help in improving language and speech skills and eating abilities of children suffering from cerebral palsy.
Speech therapy also helps in developing creative communication methods for patients who cannot speak. In this case a speech and language therapist will work with the infant on communication skills. This involves talking or use of sign language or use of communication aid.
Cerebral palsy and speech therapy tend to be entwined since the first diagnosis of the condition and speech therapy tends to evolve. Speech therapy tends to help patient in correcting speech disorders and improving listening skills. The duration of particular speech therapy program tends to vary depending on the degree of cerebral palsy being treated and response of the patient to speech therapy. Speech therapy tends to be performed by speech pathologist involving regular meetings with the therapist in not only one on one or group setting but even home exercises.
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The level of speech therapy tends to be determined by ability of the patient to communicate. Speech therapists can help in building their language skills by learning new words or improving their listening skills.
In case of physical therapy, set of exercise and stretches are involved this prevents limbs of an infant from becoming weak. Other kind of physical therapy involves preparation of infant for physical activity such as movement in an independent manner which can be achieved with help of braces and walkers.
Treatment for cerebral palsy using medication can prevent seizures from occurring. The best thing would be to get in touch with a certified physician before making a decision for treatment of cerebral palsy without undertaking any type of medication.
Some of the medication includes:
For muscle relaxation
Controls muscle contractions
Controls abnormal movements
Surgery is quite effective as it can help in cutting nerves which have been affected by spasms and minimizing muscle contractions apart from loosening of tight joints and muscles.
It is not possible to fully treat every aspects of cerebral palsy and therefore it is necessary to continue providing treatment to the affected person through speech therapy, physical therapy and psychotherapy which can help in reducing cerebral palsy effects over a period of time.
Cerebral Palsy Exercises
A child suffering from cerebral palsy needs to be offered regular cerebral palsy exercises in order to improve efficiency for walking, talking, learning and carrying out daily routines. The family members of the child suffering from can get help from various professionals in support of the child in therapies and activities which aim at reducing the effect of disabilities.
Physical therapy for the disabled child is offered with the aim of helping them achieving their optimum potential for mobility and physical liberty.
Physical therapy tends to include cerebral palsy exercises which include correct positioning of hands and legs and coaching for the alternate ways of movement with the help of walkers and handling of adaptive equipment.
Speech therapy is another exercise with the aim of improving speaking ability and communication skills. Some children might need help to overcome simple articulation problems but some cerebral palsy patients might not be able to speak verbally and need non verbal communication.
While carrying out regular cerebral palsy exercises, the hip joints of the patient must be taken care of.
Regular cerebral palsy exercises needs to be carried out by experts but it will have to be carried out throughout the life of cerebral palsy patients so that they can lead a normal life.
Cerebral Palsy Facts
Have a look at some facts related to cerebral palsy:
20% of children who have been diagnosed with congenital cerebral palsy developed cerebral palsy due to brain injury during birthing process.
It is one of the most common neurological impairment occurring in childhood.
Lack of oxygen to the fetus leads to very few number of cerebral palsy cases.
Cerebral palsy takes place when the brain is under development.
Cerebral palsy could be associated with seizures or mental retardation.
45% of children suffering from cerebral palsy tend to develop mild or severe form of epilepsy.
A number of children suffering from cerebral palsy tend to have a normal intellect and only suffer from physical complications.
Another fact of cerebral palsy is that it is one of the most common neurological impairment taking place in childhood.