Cerebral Palsy is a neurological disorder caused by a non-progressive brain damage due to certain factors at foetal stage (during pregnancy), at birth or immediately after birth. This condition affects muscle tone, movement and coordination.
In many cases, the actual cause of Cerebral Palsy is not known. The possible factors leading to the brain damage includes:
- Genetic mutation
- Infections during pregnancy that affect the foetus
- Birth asphyxia: lack of oxygen related to delivery
- Lack of oxygen supply to brain cells
- Head injury during or after birth
- Bleeding in the fetal or newborn brain
- Birth factors such as premature birth and low birth weight
- Neonatal infections or infections in the newborn such as jaundice
- Fetal stroke (disruption in blood supply to the foetal or developing brain)
Symptoms of cerebral palsy vary depending mostly on the area of brain damage.
- Abnormal muscle tone which can be too stiff (spasticity) or too relaxed (flaccidity)
- Exaggerated reflexes or abnormal reflexes
- Delay in achieving motor milestones such as crawling, sitting, walking
- Gait disorders (manner of walking)
- Feeding difficulties
- Drooling (drop saliva uncontrollably from mouth)
- Prefers to use any one side of the body
- Posture instabilities
- Balancing issues
- Difficulty in actions that require hand or eye-hand coordination
- Vision problems
- Speech and language difficulties
- Difficulty in performing fine motor activities such as buttoning clothes, threading needle
- Learning difficulties
- Exaggerated or reduced sense of feeling
Diagnosis of cerebral palsy requires:
- Evaluating signs and symptoms
- Developmental history
- Medical history
- Family history
- Physical examination
- Brain imaging procedures (MRI, cranial ultrasound)
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) if the child has seizures
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Additional evaluation to identify problems related to :
- Speech and language
- Hearing vision
- Intellectual abilities
- Motor development and movement
There are no definite preventive measures for cerebral palsy. Expectant mothers can take care of certain factors to reduce the risk of developing brain damage.
- Intake of healthy, balanced and nutritional diet
- Good mental health
- Take good care and avoid injuries and infections
- Take extreme care of the newborn after delivery to avoid infections and injuries.
Cerebral palsy has no cure. A person with cerebral palsy might have to undergo a lifelong treatment. Treatment can prevent further progression of the condition. Treatment for cerebral palsy requires a multidisciplinary team of various specialists such as paediatrician, neurologist, physiotherapist, speech therapist, behavioural therapist, occupational therapist.
- Medicines can be used to treat abnormal muscle tone, pain and other complications associated with cerebral palsy.
- Various therapies such as physical, speech and language, occupational, behavioural therapies can be given to deal with difficulties in motor activities, movement, balancing, muscle tone, speech and language difficulties, feeding difficulties, difficulties in performing daily activities, intellectual and behavioural problems.
- Surgical procedures can be done to reduce muscle tightness and correct bone abnormalities.
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