What is Cerebral Palsy?
A cerebral palsy can be defined as a disorder that is associated with posture, movement, and muscle tone. This disorder is caused due to the damage in an immature or a developing brain. This damage is often seen before the birth of a child. It’s one of the most common forms of childhood disability.
According to the report, there are over 760,000 Americans that are diagnosed with this disorder. Like many other disorders, there are levels of severity of this disorder too. This disorder may affect both voluntary and involuntary movements.
This disorder is not progressive in nature. It neither affects the intelligence of a person nor their cognitive ability. There is no case of this disorder getting worse over the period of time. There are people who have experienced improvement in their symptoms over the period of time. The people with this disorder can expect to have a normal lifespan and a reasonable quality of life.
In this article, we will discuss this disorder in detail.
What are the Causes of Cerebral Palsy?
The major cause of cerebral palsy is a brain injury or some other brain problems in mother during the time of pregnancy, birth, or before the first few years of a child’s birth. Here are some of the causes of cerebral palsy.
- Premature birth of a baby
- The deprivation of enough oxygen, nutrients, or blood before the birth or during the birth of a baby.
- A serious case of a head injury
- The critical infection, such as meningitis that can negatively impact the brain.
- The genetic problems that can obstruct the development of the brain of a baby
According to the study, a less than 1/10th of the cases of cerebral palsy are due to an oxygen deprivation during the birth of a child. In the majority of the cases of cerebral palsy, the damage is found in the baby before the birth of a child. However, the exact cause of the cerebral palsy is unknown in most of the cases.
What are the Symptoms Associated with Cerebral Palsy?
An infant who is suffering from cerebral palsy is likely to have problems with muscle movement and muscle tone. The muscle tone can be defined as an ability of a muscle to tighten and relax whenever needed. Here are some of the common symptoms that are observed in a person diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
- The muscles are usually under or overdeveloped, leading to a floppy or a stiff movement.
- Unable to coordinate and balance the body, which is also known as ataxia
- The abnormal contraction of muscles, which is also called spastic paralysis
- The patient crawl in an unusual way
- Lying down in an unusual position
- A restricted movement of muscles
- Favoring one body side more than the other
Some of the other signs of cerebral palsy are:
- The developmental milestones, such as crawling, standing, walking, or speaking are achieved late than usual.
- The babies are likely to have a hearing and eye issues.
- It becomes difficult for babies to control bowel and bladder movement.
- The problem of seizures is observed.
- The babies are startled quite easily
These symptoms generally start to appear within the first 3 years of lifespan.
How is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?
At first, the doctor will ask the parent to perform some physical examinations. The doctor will also ask parents about the medical history of the child.
To know more about the condition of the child, the doctor will ask some more questions to the parents associated with the child’s growth problems noticed by the parents along with the questions related to the child’s development process.
After the completion of the round of questions, the CT scan or an MRI is performed. The doctor may also want to observe the ultrasound images of the child’s brain. These tests in some cases may assist the doctor to find the cause of cerebral palsy.
If your child is suffering from a severe form of cerebral palsy, the doctor will be able to know the problem within a first few weeks after the birth of a child. In the majority of the cases, it is parents who are the first to observe that their child is not at par with other children in terms of development and physical abilities.
The early signs of cerebral palsy are a developmental delay. Although the babies have cerebral palsy from the time of their birth, the signs and symptoms of cerebral are not noticed till the child is 1 to 3 years of age.
What are the Risk Factors that are Associated with an Increased Risk of Cerebral Palsy?
There are a number of factors that are associated with an increased risk of cerebral palsy. Here are some of the risk factors that could increase the risk of cerebral palsy.
1. Maternal health
There are some specific infections and health problems during pregnancy that could drastically enhance the risk of cerebral palsy in the child. Some of those health issues are Herpes, German measles, Toxoplasmosis, zika virus, thyroid problems, seizures, syphilis, chickenpox, and cytomegalovirus.
2. Infant illness
The infant illness can also contribute to increasing the risk of cerebral palsy. The illnesses, such as severe jaundice, bacterial meningitis, and viral encephalitis are the ones that increase the risk of cerebral palsy in the child.
3. Other factors that are associated with birth and pregnancy
Some other factors that are associated with birth or pregnancy that could increase the risk of cerebral palsy are low birth weight, breech birth, complicated labor, premature birth, and multiple babies.
Can this Disorder be Prevented?
The majority of cases of cerebral palsy cannot be prevented. However, there are things that you can do to minimize the risks of pregnancy complications. Here are some of the ways to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications that could eventually reduce the risk of cerebral palsy.
1. Do not ignore vaccination
There are vaccinations against various diseases, such as rubella, which is an infection that could eventually lead to fetal brain damage.
2. Take care of your health
The health of a pregnant woman greatly affects the health of her baby. A healthier mother means a reduced risk of cerebral palsy in the baby.
3. Early and Continuous Prenatal Care
It’s absolutely crucial for pregnant women to visit the doctor on a regular basis to reduce the risks of various adverse health conditions of both her and her baby. The pregnant women who consistently visit the doctor can help reduce the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and other kinds of infections.
4.Follow the Best Child Safety Practices
The pregnant women must follow the best safety practices to prevent head injuries. Provide the safe practices, such as wearing a seatbelt, helmet, bed safety rails, and so on.
How is the Cerebral Palsy Treatment?
Truth to be told, cerebral palsy cannot be treated. However, there are plenty of ways to cope with symptoms and prevent problems that are seen in the kids that are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Here are some of the treatment methods to deal with cerebral palsy.
1. Physical Therapy
The physical exercises and muscle training can help kids to enhance their strength, mobility, flexibility, and balance. The study has shown that the physical therapy may enhance the condition of the kids suffering from cerebral palsy.
2. Occupational Therapy
This therapy includes involving kids in day-to-day operations.
3. Speech and Language Therapy
The speech and language therapy helps the child to speak clearly. The speech therapists could use voice synthesizers when communication is difficult.
4. Recreational Therapy
The recreational therapy could be making kids involved in horseback riding and other entertaining activities. These activities help improve kids’ speech, emotional well-being, and motor skills.
The surgery may be recommended for tightening the muscles and correcting abnormalities. These surgeries are:
1. Orthopedic Surgery
The children suffering from severe palsy may need bone or joint surgery for placing their hips, arms, or legs. The corrections made from the surgery help in enhancing the mobility of the child.
2. Severing Nerves
There are times surgeons may need to cut the nerves for relaxing the muscles and reducing the pain.
There are many people who are suffering from cerebral palsy who are enjoying a good quality of life. If this disorder is diagnosed and treated properly, there is a good chance that the patient will learn to live peacefully despite the fact he/she is diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
The study has shown that the cerebral palsy patients, if treated properly, can achieve a high quality of life despite their condition.
With that said, it’s important for the people to try as much as possible to reduce the possibility of being diagnosed with cerebral palsy. And the people who are affected with cerebral palsy should consult the doctor to find the right treatment method for themselves.
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