The Wellness Institute is raising awareness about a neurological disorder, Cerebral Palsy. The month of March marks Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. We thank our strategic partner, Cerebral Palsy Guidance, who has shared some helpful information below. More information about cerebral palsy can also be found on their website: www.cerebralpalsyguidance.com
Cerebral Palsy Guidance covers cerebral palsy from all angles – from symptoms, causes, and treatment, to daily living information, such as communication and transitioning to adulthood articles. Cerebral Palsy Guidance was created to provide answers and assistance to parents of a child with cerebral palsy. Their goal is to reach as many members of the cerebral palsy community as possible, building up a network of support, as well as providing necessary assistance
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder that affects a child’s movement, motor skills, and muscle tone. In most cases, cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage that develops while the baby is still in utero or during or shortly after birth.
Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder, affecting around 500,000 in the U.S. There is currently no cure for cerebral palsy, but there are numerous treatment options that can help babies and children live quality lives that turn into successful adult lives.
Unfortunately, cerebral palsy can lead a number of other medical conditions, depending on the severity of the disorder. Other medical issues associated with cerebral palsy include:
• Speech problems
• Learning disabilities
• Problems with hearing and vision
Types of Cerebral Palsy
The severity and type of cerebral palsy a child has can vary. Some children may just have some muscle spasms, while others are unable to walk. Some may have seizures and some may have cognitive disabilities. The condition can affect any muscles in the body, so possible complications include trouble with balance, eye problems, bladder or bowel problems, poor range of motion in joints, and difficulty swallowing. Cerebral palsy does not get worse with time.
There are different types of cerebral palsy that affects babies and children in different ways:
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of the disorder, affecting around 76.9% of all people with CP. Spastic cerebral palsy differs from other types of CP due to it distinct symptoms and characteristics. Common symptoms and characteristics of spastic CP include:
• Failure to reach milestones in walking, crawling, and sitting up
• Abnormal movement
• Movement inhibition
• Stiff muscles
• Muscles tend to become stiffer the more the child moves
• Difficulties with controlling individual muscles
• Difficulties 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 entire body, placing them at risk of limb deformities. Many children with spastic quadriplegia will also experience chronic seizures, so it’s important to work with a healthcare team to figure out the best treatment options.
Another form of spastic CP is spastic diplegia. It’s not as severe as spastic quadriplegia, as children are still able to walk. However, they often walk on their toes and have issues with balance and coordination. Other symptoms of spastic diplegia include delayed milestones, fatigue, seizures, “flexed knees,” and a crouched gait. Legs are often affected more than arms.
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy (also known as dystonic and athetoid) is the 2nd most common form of cerebral palsy, although it only affects around 2.6% of all cases of the disorder. Symptoms of dyskinetic cerebral palsy include:
• Repetitive, twisting motions (dystonia)
• Slow, writhing movements (athetosis)
• Unpredictable, irregular movements (chorea)
• Awkward posture
• Movements can range from slow to rapid and can be accompanied by pain
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Ataxic cerebral palsy is named after the word ataxia, meaning “without order.” It’s the least common type of cerebral palsy, marked by poor balance, incoordination, tremors, and shaky movements.
Mixed Cerebral Palsy
Mixed cerebral occurs when the child has two or more types of the aforementioned types of cerebral palsy. Spastic-dyskinetic cerebral is the most common type of mixed cerebral palsy. When children have mixed cerebral palsy, they may exhibit a combination of symptoms, matching each type of the disorder they have.
What If I Notice Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy in My Child?
If you see obvious symptoms of cerebral palsy, you should consult your child’s pediatrician right away. Even if you notice things that might not be the more obvious signs of cerebral palsy (such as muscle spasms, stiff muscles, and abnormal movements), you should always take your concerns to your child’s doctor. Early intervention is key when helping children with cerebral palsy.
Also keep in mind that there is no need to panic. In some cases, it will turn out that the child doesn’t have CP. In other instances, parental instincts are spot-on, and treatment can begin shortly after.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
In some instances, the cause of cerebral palsy remains unknown. However, research indicates that the disorder can be caused during pregnancy when the baby’s brain fails to develop correctly or gets damaged. Brain damage can occur from maternal illnesses and diseases, genetic factors, or using illegal drugs while pregnant Cerebral palsy can also happen during childbirth. Infants born too early are at risk of developing the disorder. Premature infants run the risk of oxygen loss and a host of other medical issues that can lead to brain damage, which may eventually lead to cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy doesn’t always occur during pregnancy or childbirth. In some instances, children may have an accident during childhood that can lead to brain damage and cerebral palsy. Additionally, babies or toddlers may develop a severe medical condition, such as meningitis, that can lead to brain damage and cerebral palsy.
Another possible cause of cerebral palsy is brain damage caused by medical negligence. When the baby is deprived of oxygen during birth, the damage can be enough to cause cerebral palsy. Improper use of forceps and other tools during delivery can also cause damage.
A doctor may also be at fault for failing to do something, like delaying a Cesarean section or failing to perform one altogether, not properly monitoring the health of the fetus, or not detecting and treating infections. Many parents have started lawsuits against doctors and hospitals when negligence was suspected in a cerebral palsy case.
Is Cerebral Palsy a Disease?
No, cerebral palsy isn’t a disease. As aforementioned, it’s a neurological disorder which affects movement and muscle control. Cerebral refers to the brain and palsy refers to movement.
* For additional assistance, please contact Cerebral Palsy Guidance at 866-579-8495