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Cerebral Palsy Overview
Learning that your baby or child has cerebral palsy can be devastating news. Yet, by educating yourself, including learning about treatment options and how to help manage the disorder, your child can still live a productive life. For further information please visit the useful online website Cerebral Palsy Guidance with information about the condition, financial assistance, living with Cerebral Palsy, about us and our blog.
About Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder that affects a child’s movement, motor skills, and muscle tone. In most cases, cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage that develops while the baby is still in utero or shortly after birth.
Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder, affecting around 500,000 in the U.S. There is currently no cure for cerebral, but there are numerous treatment options that can help babies and children live quality lives.
Unfortunately, cerebral palsy can lead a number of other medical conditions, depending on the severity of the disorder. Other medical issues associated with cerebral palsy include:
Problems with hearing and vision
Different Types of Cerebral Palsy
The severity and type of cerebral palsy in an infant or child can vary greatly. Some children may just have some muscle spasms, while others are unable to walk. Some may have seizures and some may have cognitive disabilities. The condition can affect any muscles in the body, so possible complications include trouble with balance, eye problems, bladder or bowel problems, poor range of motion in joints, and difficulty swallowing. Cerebral palsy does not get worse with time.
There are different types of cerebral palsy that affects babies and children in different ways:
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of the disorder, affecting around 76.9% of all people with CP. Spastic cerebral palsy differs from other types of CP due to it distinct symptoms and characteristics. Common symptoms and characteristics of spastic CP include:
Failure to reach milestones in walking, crawling, and sitting up
Muscles tend to become stiffer the more the child moves
Difficulties with controlling individual muscles
Difficulties moving from one position to another
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy (also known as dystonic and athetoid) is the 2nd most common form of cerebral palsy, although it only affects around 2.6% of all cases of the disorder. Symptoms of dyskinetic cerebral palsy include:
Repetitive, twisting motions (dystonia)
Slow, writhing movements (athetosis)
Unpredictable, irregular movements (chorea)
Movements can range from slow to rapid and can be accompanied by pain
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Ataxic cerebral palsy is named after the word ataxia, meaning “without order.” It’s the least common type of cerebral palsy, marked by poor balance, incoordination, tremors, and shaky movements.
Mixed Cerebral Palsy
Mixed cerebral occurs when the child has two or more types of the aforementioned types of cerebral palsy. Spastic-dyskinetic cerebral is the most common type of mixed cerebral palsy. When children have mixed cerebral palsy, they may exhibit a combination of symptoms, matching each type of the disorder they have.
Cerebral Palsy Causes
In some instances, the cause of cerebral palsy remains unknown. However, research indicates that the disorder can be caused during pregnancy when the brain fails to develop correctly or gets damages. Brain damage can occur from maternal illnesses and diseases, genetic factors, or using illegal drugs while pregnant Cerebral palsy can also happen during childbirth. Infants born too early are at risk of developing the disorder. Premature infants run the risk of oxygen loss and a host of other medical issues that can lead to brain damage, which may eventually lead to cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy doesn’t always occur during pregnancy or childbirth. In some instance, children may have an accident during childhood that can lead to brain damage and cerebral palsy. Additionally, babies or toddlers may develop a severe medical condition, such as meningitis, that can lead to brain damage and cerebral palsy.
Another possible cause of cerebral palsy is brain damage caused by medical negligence. When the baby is deprived of oxygen during birth, the damage can be enough to cause cerebral palsy. Improper use of forceps and other tools during delivery can also cause damage. A doctor may also be at fault for failing to do something, like delaying a Cesarean section or failing to perform one altogether, not properly monitoring the health of the fetus, or not detecting and treating infections. Many parents have started lawsuits against doctors and hospitals when negligence was suspected in a cerebral palsy case.
How is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?
In many instances, cerebral palsy isn’t diagnosed until the child reaches the age of walking and talking. If parents suspect a problem with lack of muscle control and coordination, they’ll usually find out from the child’s physician if he/she has cerebral palsy.
In other instances, especially if a baby is born prematurely or has a heightened risk of developing the disorder, there is a chance that the infant will get a diagnose in the first few months of life.
When diagnosing cerebral palsy, doctors look for poor coordination skills, spastic movements, uncontrolled muscle movements. Based upon a muscle movement test and the child’s medical history and a physical exam, a doctor will be able to ascertain whether your child has cerebral palsy or not.
Physicians will also perform development screenings on the infant or child. A development screening test will allow doctors to see if the patient has motor movement delays or any other type of developmental delays.
It’s important to remember that diagnosing cerebral palsy is not done in one day. It will take time to get a proper diagnosis, although premature infants may get a quicker diagnosis than a toddler.
Cerebral Palsy Prevention
Most cases of cerebral palsy cannot be prevented because most causes of the disorder are still unknown. However, there are always steps you can take while pregnant to help lower your risk of having a baby with cerebral palsy.
If you’re not pregnant yet, make sure you’re eating healthy, wholesome foods and that any pre-existing medical problems are under control. If you’re already pregnant, it’s crucial to continue to eat healthy while taking prenatal vitamins and avoiding drinking alcohol and smoking.
Unfortunately, no one knows when an infant will suffer brain damage at the hands of a physician. As mentioned earlier, pulling too hard on an infant, especially while using birth-assisting tools (forceps) can result in severe injuries, including brain damage.
On the other hand, infants who are not pulled out in time during childbirth run the risk of being deprived of oxygen, so doctors must extremely careful not only when pulling the infant out, but ensuring the infant doesn’t get hurt when a quick delivery is needed.
Sometimes an emergency C-section is needed if an infant is not progressing as he/she should during a normal delivery. If the C-section isn’t ordered and carried out in time, the infant may suffer brain damage, which can lead to cerebral palsy.
If you already have an infant or toddler at home, be certain to “baby proof” your home. This includes making sure cleaning supplies and other toxic substances are out of reach.
Treatment Options for Cerebral Palsy
Currently there’s no cure for cerebral palsy, but a variety treatment options can provide help and improve the quality of life of babies and children.
Therapy is common for almost all children with cerebral palsy as it helps them with the crucial aspects of growth and development. Therapy is usually started shortly after a diagnosis and can include both physical and speech therapy. Therapies help patients learn techniques for movements, stretching, hearing, eating, drinking, learning, speech, hearing, and social development.
Medication may also be prescribed to cerebral palsy patients. Generally, medications are used to help control spastic movements, seizures, and control pain. Your physician will go over what kind of medication your child will need, depending on his/her symptoms. The following medications may be prescribed to help with cerebral palsy symptoms include:
Surgery, in some cases, may be a treatment option. Surgery for cerebral palsy is usually to help children have better orthopedic functions. Common surgery for cerebral palsy patients include repairing hip dislocations, as well as scoliosis surgery. Surgery also may include nerve root repair, tight/stiff muscle repair, and surgery to reduce spasticity.
Leg braces, wheelchairs, communication boards, and other assistive devices may also be a part of the treatment care plan. In addition, your child may have numerous healthcare professionals assisting him/her, including physical therapists, physicians, counselors, social workers, nurses, special education teachers, and more.
Surgery in the upper extremities is also common, especially on the arms and shoulders.
Therapy, provided in various forms, help people with cerebral palsy with physical, mental, social, and academic benefits. If it’s started early enough after diagnosis, many forms of therapy for cerebral palsy can reduce impairment and the risks of developing other conditions associated with cerebral palsy.
Therapy is usually combined with other treatments, such as drug therapy, surgery, and assistive technology, which help benefit the child even further. When physicians determines the child’s medical goals, they can then develop an individualized therapy plan.
It’s important to note that therapy can also be extremely beneficial to parents and caregivers.For example, nutritional therapy can help people understand specific dietary needs, while behavioral therapy can help teach parents the benefits of positive reinforcement.
Common types of therapy used to help children with cerebral palsy include:
The prognosis for cerebral palsy depends on each individual, but most people with the disorder have a typical life expectancy, no different from anyone else. Many children with cerebral palsy have average or even above average intelligence measures, although many may have some form of cognitive issues that will require additional educational assistance. Yet, most kids can go to school with their peers, but may need adaptive equipment for physical needs, to communicate, or for mobility.
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This page was last updated on 17/10/2018. This page has been viewed 1419 times.