This condition is most commonly seen in children. The overall development of children affected with cerebral palsy becomes very slow. They take time in learning activities like crawling, walking, sitting and rolling over. Children affected with cerebral palsy cannot coordinate and control their muscles completely. They have to try very hard to make simple and easy movements.
The problems that arise due to cerebral palsy are muscle stiffness, uncontrolled movements, poor muscle tone, problems with walking, speech, coordination, swallowing, posture and balance. Skeletal deformities, mental retardation, learning disabilities, breathing problems, seizures, dental problems, eating difficulties, bowel control problems, hearing and vision problems are the other problems that a person with cerebral palsy may experience. Children suffering from cerebral palsy need special care and attention. They require occupational, speech and physical therapy.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
During pregnancy, the brain of unborn child may get damaged when it is still in its developing stage or during the birth process that can result in cerebral palsy. The cause of the brain damage during pregnancy is not completely known. Chances of getting cerebral palsy before birth are more than during birth. The three factors that are generally responsible for cerebral palsy are pre-natal, perinatal and postnatal factors.
Hereditary and genetic conditions are also one of the factors responsible for cerebral palsy. Brain can also get damaged due to the difference in the blood between fetus and mother. This is known as Rh factor incompatibility. Other causes of cerebral palsy include multiple births, severe jaundice after birth, premature birth, complications during labor and delivery, hypoxia and low birth weight.
When To Seek a Doctor’s Help
You should visit your child’s health care provider immediately if your child’s condition falls under the following- if your child has a low birth weight due to premature birth, if you suffered from complications at the time of your delivery, if you observe uncoordinated, slow and jerky movements in your child, your child does not respond to music or any kind of sound, if your child does not speak anything when he or she is 12 months old, if your child does not pick up a toy when he or she is 4 months old or if your child takes support to sit up when he or she is 7 months old .
The health care provider will monitor your child to observe the signs of cerebral palsy. Besides these signs, if you observe anything that shows a loss of control of muscle movements in your child then you should discuss the matter with your child’s health care provider.
Information About Tests of Cerebral Palsy
Sadly, there is no test that can diagnose cerebral palsy in your child. Your child’s health care provider will ask you to give some information on the basis of which he or she will decide whether your child is suffering from cerebral palsy or not.
You are supposed to answer his or her questions correctly and honestly as this will help in planning the best treatment for your child. The information includes your medical history, medical problems at the time of pregnancy, your child’s medical problems and mental and physical development.
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If the health care provider finds out that your child is having hormonal, metabolic or chemical problems then your child may have to undergo various urine and blood tests. Your child’s health care provider may suggest karyotype analysis and DNA testing if he or she suspects that your child has a genetic disorder.
These tests should be done as early as possible. Other tests include CT scan of the brain, ultrasound of the brain, MRI of the brain and the spinal cord, electromyography, electroencephalography. Children who have mild cerebral palsy do not show any visible brain abnormalities.
Treatment of Cerebral Palsy
You will be disappointed to know that the cure for cerebral palsy has not been found yet. However early treatment of cerebral palsy may reduce the abnormalities that occur due to this condition. The medical specialists decide the treatment to be given to patients with cerebral palsy. Your child can develop special skills and abilities with the help of therapies. You may need different specialists and services for your child’s treatment.
This program includes physical therapy which involves stretching and physical exercises. These exercises help in developing skills in your child like sitting without taking the support of anything, walking or holding the head up. Activities that help in developing muscle strength and flexibility are also included in physical therapy.
The health care provider may use special equipment to help your child such as positioning devices, tricycles, scooters, walkers and customized wheelchairs. If your child is suffering from visual problems then the health care provider may suggest you to meet an ophthalmologist.
This therapy will help your child to do his or her work independently by learning physical skills. Some of the examples are grooming, feeding and dressing. Your child will be able to communicate with other people properly. The problem in communication is mainly due to uncontrolled movements in the muscles of mouth and tongue.
This therapy is used to treat breathing problems, seizures, feeding and digestive problems. Breathing problems arise because the muscles responsible for the expansion and contraction of lungs are disabled. You should consult a pulmonologist and seek his or her advice for the treatment of these problems. Your child may have gastroesophageal reflux and swallowing and feeding problems.
You should consult gastroenterologist and nutritionist and they will suggest you the ways to solve these problems. Your child may also be required to undergo swallowing therapy. For the treatment of your child’s seizure disorders, you should consult a neurologist. He or she will suggest you suitable medicines to cure this disorder.
With the help of these services, your child will be able to deal with his or her learning disability better.
Medications are used to treat abnormal movements, spasticity ad to prevent seizures. These medications include muscle relaxants, dopaminergic drugs, benzodiazepines and botulinum toxin type A.