Cerebral Palsy


Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects the muscles and movement of the body that is caused by an abnormality in the brain. CP does not allow the body to move and produce smooth actions (motor skills), since the muscles does not receive the messages sent from the brain, which results with uncontrolled body movements. Cerebral palsy is a non progressive disorder, which means that the brain damage will not get better or get worse.


CP does not have an exact cause but what we do know is that the brain did not fully develop properly or that there is some sort of brain damage that affects the muscles and coordination. Damage to the brain may be caused by lack of oxygen or complications during early pregnancy; during labour/as the baby is coming through the birth canal or after birth during the first few years. Some causes of brain damages that may lead to cerebral palsy are:

                        •
premature baby, weighing less than 3.3 lbs
                         severe jaundice after birth
                         multiple births (like twins or triplets)
                        
shaken baby
                        lead poisoning

If the mother has any medical problem during pregnancy like an infection or has a seizure that can contribute to the risk of the baby being diagnosed with cerebral palsy. If this has happened to your child, then your child may have a higher risk/more vulnerable of brain damage and later may be diagnosed with cerebral palsy. But the exact causes of brain damages are still unknown. Please remember to have a team of professional diagnosis your child.

There are three types/subtypes of cerebral palsy;

                        1) Spastic CP
                        2) Ataxia CP
                        3) Athetoid CP

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of CP diagnosed, where the muscles are tense/tight. There is a disrupted flow of messages from the brain to the nerve to the muscle. There can sometimes be mild to serve spastic cerebral palsy, where the mild will only affect some muscles and movements, and serve spastic CP can affect the whole body of the person. All the tight muscles and disrupted flow of messages adds extra pressure of the joints, where the muscles attach to the bones, so the body can move. As already stated the brain damage will not get worse or better, but the tightness in the muscles can increase overtime even without the right treatment. Children with spastic cerebral palsy end up getting deformed arms and legs due to all the tightening of the muscles and joints, these children are not born like this; this is what ultimately happens.

Ataxia cerebral palsy more has to do with the coordination (skills) of movement and muscles; this is the least common form of CP.  Since ataxia CP affects the movement of the person, they seem to walk and look unbalanced and/or shaky. When a person with ataxia CP tries to do an exact movement like buttoning a shirt, their hands will become very shaky or have a tremor. The tremor/shaky hands and arms, can sometimes be wrapped with something cool to the forearm will help slow down the shakiness. But I team of professionals will have the best treatments for your child.

Now the third main type is athetoid cerebral palsy, which can be seen in about 10 to 25% of all cerebral palsy cases. Athetoid is when the muscles take turns being floppy or tight, which leads to body motions that the person did not plan on having. They can sometimes have trouble with sitting straight up and hold themselves in that position. It also takes a great deal of work for them to scratch their nose and it takes extra concentration for them to be able to complete this movement. The more stress a person with atheroid CP has, the more unplanned movements they have. But when they sleep more of their symptoms are gone.

There are some signs and symptoms of all types of cerebral palsy, but a team of professionals should notice the signs and symptoms, especially if they decide if the baby is at risk. Cerebral palsy can range from mild to serve; where mild could be a little awkward movement and serve could end up with no muscle control all over the body. Mild to serve varies from person to person, and how bad their brain damage is and where the brain damage is location on the brain. When someone has brain damage they may have problems with:

                        •
walking and/or running
                         writing and/or speaking
                         nonflexible muscles
                         muscle spasms that lead to unplanned body movements
                         coordination

The following is a list that may be signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy, which could most likely be seen by the age of 3.

                        
baby may have a weak crying voice
                         baby may drink/swallow milk differently
                         the baby may have odd positions and posture, which is noticeable to others
                         the baby/child may not know the difference between foam and a hard floor
                         the will be a noticeable lack of being coordinated
                         if the baby/child has severe cerebral palsy, they may start
                         unplanned body movements
                         trouble with their balance
                        
they may even have delayed milestones like, holding up their head, reaching 
                          with one hand, sitting without support
                         the baby/child may be unusually floppy or have jerky movements

Cerebral palsy can lead to other health/medical problems like;

                        
poor vision or even blindness in some cases
                         poor hearing or the loss of hearing
                         speech problem since they are unable to control the muscles that allow 
                          them to speak
                        learning disabilities (since they may have troubles, speaking, hearing and 
                          seeing)
                         spit up food or liquid, but they can also get the food and liquids into their 
                          lungs which could have them chock, suffocate or get an infection (this 
                          could cause brain damage is if the baby/child goes without air for more than 
                          3 minutes)
                        
drooling which can irritate the skin around the mouth from constant drooling, 
                          since they do not have the muscle control to swallow
                         tooth decay or cavities, since they have a hard time brushing their teeth
                         sleep disorders
                         weak and/or brittle bones
                         seizures
                        • epilepsies
                        • behaviour problems
                         arthritis
                        
bowel and/or bladder problems since they have a lack of muscle control
                         motor skills may be affected like holding a fork to feed themselves

Let’s keep in mind this is what happens since these babies/children and teens have no muscle control, it affects the life around them. What we may think is very simple to do, will be very difficult for someone with cerebral palsy to do. But please do not underestimate them, just because they may have troubles speaking or brushing their teeth, does not mean they are not smart. People with cerebral palsy have the same intelligence as we do and sometimes more please remember this, it is important to know.

Some treatments that could help people with cerebral palsy are but there is no cure for it. Someone with cerebral palsy will need therapy throughout their life to help use/exercise their muscles. Some will need specialized equipment like legs braces or a wheelchair. The sooner your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and the sooner they can begin therapy and help improve their muscle tone. But if the therapy is not started right away there is a chance that the muscles and bones can become deformed and stay that way.

The therapies that may be recommended to your child would likely be;

                        •
physiotherapy
                        occupational therapy
                        • speech therapy

Physiotherapy helps the muscles build strength and flexibility by stretching and some exercising; this will also help the bones to prevent dislocation of the body’s joints. Occupational therapy helps the child/teen with cerebral palsy by teaching them to be independent by teaching life skills like feeding, dressing and grooming (cleaning) themselves.  Another important therapist is a speech therapist that will help with the developing muscles in the mouth and tongue to help improve the child’s speech. But speech therapy will also help the child bite, chew and swallow their food, this is key so your child will less likely chock on their food.

Other professionals, along with the therapist that your child could use to help them through their life are;

                        
psychologists
                         school educators (that could help them like handwriting)
                        nurses
                         soci
al worker
                         paediatrician
                         orthopaedic surgeon

P
lease leave it up to these professionals to diagnosis and treat your child. This is just to give you some information and a little guideline to know what to look for.

Website/Bibliography

“Cerebral Palsy”, Kidshealth
http://kidshealth,org/parent/medical/brain/cerebral_palsy.html

“Cerebral Palsy”, Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebral_palsy

“Cerebral Palsy”, emedicinehealth
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/cerebral_palsy/article_em.htm

“Types of Cerebral Palsy”, Cerebral Palsy Source
http://www.cerebralpalsysource.com/Types_of_CP/spastic_cp/index.html

“What is Cerebral Palsy”, Causes, Prevention, Care & Treatment Information
http://www.cerebralpalsytreating.com/  (27 Aug 2010)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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