Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a type of neurological disorder affecting the movement, motor skills and muscle tone of a child. Most cases of cerebral palsy are brought on by a damage in the brain which developed while the baby was still in the womb, or during or shortly after birth. At present, cerebral palsy has no definitive or permanent cure but a number of treatment options are available to enable children to live quality lives into their adulthood.

Types, causes and symptoms of cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy have three common forms:

• Spastic – It is the most common form of the condition, and causes stiffness and difficulties in movement. Aside from stiff muscles and inhibited movement, its other symptoms include inability to attain milestones in crawling, sitting up and walking. A child may also experience difficulties controlling their individual muscles as well as in shifting from one position to another.

• Dyskinetic (athetoid) – It is the second most prevalent type of cerebral palsy, usually leading to involuntary and uncontrolled movements. Typical symptoms of dyskinetic cerebral palsy include recurring, twisting movements, slow writhing motions and irregular and arbitary movements. Children with this condition may also have an awkward posture and may experience movements shifting from slow to rapid with accompanying pain.

• Ataxic – Drawing its name from the word “ataxia,” which means “without order,” ataxic cerebral palsy is the rarest form of the condition and is characterized by the following symptoms: poor balance and depth perception, uncoordinated motions, tremors and shaky movements.
*Mixed cerebral palsy is a condition where a child is afflicted with two or more types of cerebral palsy and therefore exhibits a combination of the above mentioned symptoms.

Diagnosis and management of cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is usually not diagnosed until the baby has reached its walking or talking stages, where challenges in muscle control and coordination become evident. However, infants who have known evidence or risk of developing the condition may be diagnosed early.

Doctors usually examine the child’s coordination skills, movements and muscle control to determine if the patient has the disorder.

Managing cerebral palsy may involve a variety of treatment methods including physical and speech therapy. The therapies focus on developing the child’s ability to stretch, move, eat, hear, drink, talk and even socialise. Medications may also be given to manage or regulate certain symptoms such as spastic movements, pain and seizures.

In certain cases, surgery may also be an option or part of the treatment to improve the child’s orthopaedic functions.

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