Cerebral Palsy

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy refers to several disorders that restrict the ability of an individual to move and maintain posture or balance. It is among the commonest motor disorders to affect children. It occurs due to abnormal development or damage of the brain that limits the ability to control muscles.

People with this condition may have trouble when swallowing food or have imbalanced eye muscles. Therefore, the eyes fail to focus on the same object. The condition also restricts the motion range at various joints due to the stiffness of muscles. So, some people with this condition may walk on their own while others may require assistance. Intellectual disabilities may also manifest in people with this condition.

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Cerebral palsy refers to several disorders that restrict the ability of an individual to move and maintain posture or balance. It is among the commonest motor disorders to affect children.

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy:

The symptoms of the disease vary. In most cases, coordination and movement problems are common.

·   Changes in muscle time either droopy or stiff

·   Stiff muscles with excessive or normal reflexes manifesting as spasticity and rigidity

·   Involuntary movements and tremors

·   Imbalance and lack of muscle coordination

·   Takes time to grasp the motor skills like pushing up the arms, sitting up, or crawling

·   Slowness of movement

·   Using one side of the body, like responding with one hand and dragging one leg when crawling.

·   Walking on toes, scissor-like gait with crossed knees, wide gait, or an asymmetrical gait.

·   Difficulties in learning

·   The trouble with fine motor skills such as picking something or buttoning clothes

·   Seizures

The condition usually affects the whole body, although initially, it remains in one limb or a part of the body. The brain abnormality causing the disease does not change, so the condition also worsens with time. As the child grows, one symptom may be more prominent than the other.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy:

Cerebral palsy occurs due to brain damage of the fetus or an infant. Although the exact cause is difficult to points, various factors can lead to this condition.

·   Bleeding in the brain or hemorrhage

·   Deficiency of oxygen supply to the brain before, during, or post-birth.

·   Exposure to alcohol and drugs at the prenatal stage

·   Sustaining head injuries during birth or the first years of infancy.

·   Mercury poisoning from fish

·   Viral or bacterial infections like meningitis

·   Toxoplasmosis due to eating raw or uncooked meat

·   Some children may develop the condition due to birth injury resulting from medical negligence during childbirth.

Failure to detect the heart rate of the fetus, treat infections, detect prolapsed umbilical cord, and an inappropriate C-section may also lead to the condition. Damage to the parts of the brain controlling the motor functions often leads the children to cope with incorrect posture, muscle imbalance, and movement.

When to see a Physiotherapist for Cerebral Palsy:

Physiotherapy for the condition differs from children to adults. Those with incorrect posture and retarded physical activities need therapy. The therapy plan includes muscle relaxation techniques and exercises that aim to improve movement and balance. Physiotherapy improves motor skills and prevents them from worsening. Exercises, pressure and equipment, massages, and heat treatment allow people with cerebral palsy to stay independent. The therapy improves:

·   Strength

·   Stamina

·   General health

·   Posture

·   Flexibility

·   Gait

·   Coordination

Risks of cerebral palsy:

The risks or complications of the condition are:

·       contractures

·       spasticity

·       difficulty in feeding

·       communication issues

·       fractures

·       pain

·       osteoporosis

·       bowel obstruction

·       vomiting

·       constipation

·       osteopenia

·       drooling

How to prevent cerebral palsy?

There is no definite method to prevent cerebral palsy from developing during the onset of pregnancy, delivery, or immediately after birth, but several things can reduce the chances of children developing this condition.

During pregnancy:

·   Treat the medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, eating disorders, or STI’s.

·   Avoid smoking, taking drugs, or drinking alcohol

·   Stay updated with the vaccines to get protection against diseases

·   Talk to a doctor for stress relief when living or working near toxic substances.

When expecting:

·   Get regular prenatal care to protect against premature birth or low birth weight.

·   Staying protected against infections and calling the doctor for fever or sickness.

·   Checking the blood group of both

After childbirth:

·   Checking the baby for jaundice

·   Getting the recommended vaccines for the bay to protect against meningitis

During growth period:

·   Preventing head injury or blows

·   Installing safety gates on the stairs

·   Putting window guards

·   Children must wear helmets when riding a bike

·   Fastening a baby or using safety seats on the car

Treatments of cerebral palsy:

Children or adults with the condition require medication and long-term care. The treatment options are:

·   Medications

Medicines reduce muscle tightness, treat painful conditions, prevent complications due to spasticity, and improve functional abilities.

·   Physical therapy

Physiotherapy includes exercises and muscle training to improve strength, balance, flexibility, mobility, and motor development.

·   Speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapy improves the ability to communicate using sign language. Communication devices also ease the ability to convey the message.

·   Recreational therapy

Children also benefit from competitive or recreational activities like therapeutic skiing or horseback riding.

·   Surgical procedures

Surgery may be essential to reduce muscle tightness and correct bone abnormalities. Orthopedic surgery can cure deformities in the joints and for placing the legs and arms in suitable positions. In severe cases, when other treatment options fail, dorsal rhizotomy reduces pain and relaxes the muscles.

Related conditions:

Cognitive and behavioral issues may be seen in some children with the condition. Besides, ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and behavioral or emotional challenges can be connected to the disorder. Respiratory difficulties, speech impairment, digestive issues, epilepsy, learning and intellectual difficulties are also common.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can cerebral palsy improve?
There is no permanent solution for the disorder, but the symptoms do not worsen over time. The treatment options can improve the symptoms and quality of life.
2. What is the life expectancy of an individual with cerebral palsy?
The chances of survival of people with this condition is anywhere between thirty to seventy years.

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