Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive disorder of movement or posture due to damage in locomotive area of brain. The word cerebral means brains and palsy means paralysis.
Here are some characteristics of cerebral palsy:
- Lack of alertness
- Eye fluttering
- Body twitching
- Trembling of the arms and legs
- Poor feeding abilities
- Problems sucking and swallowing
- Abnormal reflexes
- Mental retardation
- Learning disabilities
- Involuntary movements
- Difficulty in maintaining balance
- Abnormal muscle tone
Some of the main causes of cerebral palsy include multiple births, damaged placenta, poor nutrition, maternal diabetes, pre maturity, birth injury, lack of oxygen to brain etc.
There are several different types of cerebral palsy. The types of CP are organized by symptoms and what parts of the body are affected.
Spastic cerebral palsy is the mostly common type of the disorder, affecting around 80% of all people with CP. People suffering from spastic cerebral palsy have increased muscle tone. This is also called as spasticity.
Common symptoms and characteristics of spastic CP include:
- Delay in starting to sit, crawl, and walk
- Abnormal movement
- Stiff or spastic muscles
- Difficulty in controlling muscle movement
- Difficulty in moving from one position to another
Spastic quadriplegia is the most severe form of spastic CP. This type of cerebral palsy can affect a child’s upper and lower limbs and body, making them unable to walk. Many children with spastic quadriplegia also experience chronic seizures, have difficulty with hearing and speech, as well as associated learning disabilities, so it is important to work with a healthcare team to figure out the best treatment options.
Another form of spastic CP is spastic diplegia. It is not as severe as spastic quadriplegia. It only affects the lower half of the body, and because of this most children are still able to walk. However, because of the tight hip and leg muscles, they walk on their toes. They have issues in body balance and coordination, or require assistive devices.
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy (also known as dystonic) is the second most common form of cerebral palsy.
Symptoms of dyskinetic cerebral palsy include:
- Repetitive, twisting body motions (dystonia)
- Slow body movements (athetosis)
- Unpredictable, irregular movements (chorea)
- Awkward postures
- Movements can range from slow to rapid and can be painful.
- Sometimes the muscles of the face are affected causing difficulty swallowing or talking
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Ataxic cerebral palsy is named after the word ataxia, meaning “without order.” It is not very common, marked by poor balance and coordination, tremors, and shaky movements that are difficult to control.
Mixed Cerebral Palsy
Mixed cerebral palsy is characterized by two or more types of symptoms and disabilities. Spastic-dyskinetic cerebral palsy is the most common type of mixed cerebral palsy. When children suffer from mixed cerebral palsy, they may exhibit a combination of symptoms consistent with each type of the disorder they have.
What causes Cerebral Palsy?
The main reason is brain damage, but there are many factors that can lead to brain damage. A lot of times the main and exact cause of cerebral palsy and brain damage is unknown. A prototypical cause is when the baby’s brain fails to develop in the proper manner or gets damaged during pregnancy. Other probable causes of brain damage may include maternal infections or medical conditions, interruption of blood flow at the time of brain development, genetic conditions, and ingestion of toxins or drugs during pregnancy.
Brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy can also occur during the childbirth. Infants born too early are at a risk of developing this disorder. Premature infants have a higher risk of oxygen loss in brain and other medical issues that can lead to brain damage. The lesser common factors may include, an accident or serious infection during infancy or early childhood that can lead to brain damage and cerebral palsy.
What can we do to manage the children suffering from Cerebral palsy?
Unfortunately, cerebral palsy cannot be cured, but the treatment can, however, help a person to be a part of the family, school and other work activities as much as possible.
The various solutions for treatment may include the following:
Assistive devices: These may include several types of walkers for the support while walking. Crutches can be used to increase the balance and stability as well as in reducing or eliminating the stress on weight bearing joints.
- Physical therapy: Promotes functional mobility.
- Music Therapy: Helps in treating neurological and behavioural disorders.
- Speech Therapy: This helps in developing better control of jaw and mouth muscles.
Can Cerebral Palsy be fatal?
Studies show that many children who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy have the same life expectancy as anyone else. Earlier in the mid-20th century, many children with cerebral palsy didn’t live to adulthood. While cerebral palsy is not as much of a threat to a child’s life but it does usually require early intervention and good medical care, especially for those with severe forms of the disorder.