Cerebral palsy is a medical condition that affects the movement and coordination of the body. It happens due to damage to the brain before, during, or after birth. For 1,000 babies born in the United States, approximately three will be diagnosed with cerebral palsy by the time the kids are eight years old.
Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in children. There are different myths and misconceptions about this health condition. Read more about the FAQs, including cerebral palsy diagnosis, symptoms, and treatments.
Here is a list of the commonly asked questions.
- What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological problem caused by a brain injury or abnormality. It can occur during pregnancy, at birth, or after birth up to age three. It affects body movement and muscle coordination mainly. Moreover, the condition can affect other body functions, such as speech, hearing, and vision.
Here’s how it affects the kids.
- Muscles: Cerebral palsy can make muscles tight, weak, or floppy. It can cause problems with movement and posture.
- Joints: Joints may be frozen in place (contractures) or might not form correctly (dislocated).
- Skin: Some kids with CP have sensitive skin that breaks down quickly.
- Teeth: Your child might have trouble getting teeth to come in or come in at the wrong angle.
- Digestion: Constipation is common, and some kids have trouble swallowing.
- Urination: Some kids with CP wet their beds (enuresis). Others can’t control when they urinate (incontinence).
- Heart and lungs: Your child will have trouble taking deep breaths or coughing correctly. It can lead to lung infections.
- Bones: Your kid might have low bone density, leading to fractures.
- What Are The Symptoms Of Cerebral Palsy?
Here are some common symptoms of the disease that you should not ignore.
- Delayed milestones in motor skills development – If a baby is not hitting developmental milestones like sitting up, rolling over, or crawling by the time they are about six to nine months old, it could signify cerebral palsy.
- Stiff muscles and joints – If your child’s limbs feel stiff and you have difficulty moving them, it is best to check with your doctor.
- Abnormal posture – When a kid has cerebral palsy, they often have an abnormal posture. It can present itself in several ways, such as leaning to one side when sitting or lying down or holding their arms and legs in unusual positions.
- Uncontrollable movements – If your child’s limbs jerk involuntarily or have trouble controlling their movements, it is a cause for concern.
These are some of the symptoms associated with cerebral palsy. If you notice any of them, it is right to consult with your doctor.
- How Is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?
There are several methods used for cerebral palsy diagnosis. Some of them are explained below.
- The first step is to take a thorough examination of the medical history. It will help the doctor rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms.
- A physical exam will be conducted next. The doctor will look for muscle weakness, spasticity, and abnormal reflexes.
- Imaging tests, such as MRI or CT scans, may be ordered to check for damage to the brain.
- Electrical studies, such as EEG, can be done to rule out seizures.
- Developmental tests will be administered to check the child’s milestones.
A team usually diagnoses cerebral palsy with specialists that may include a pediatrician, neurologist, developmental pediatrician, and physiatrist. The diagnosis is generally made when the child is 18 and 24 months old.
- What Treatments Are Available For Cerebral Palsy?
While there is no one answer to this question because each case of cerebral palsy is different, there are innumerable treatments available that can help improve a child’s quality of life. Some common treatments include:
- Physical therapy – It is one of the treatments for cerebral palsy. It helps improve muscles’ strength, flexibility, and range of motion.
- Occupational therapy – It helps children with this condition to develop skills needed for daily living, such as eating, dressing, and bathing. Here, the therapist will also teach the caregivers to help the child.
- Speech therapy – Communication is the key to success. This therapy helps children with cerebral palsy to improve their speech and language skills. Some treatment modules involve facilitating the use of alternative communication devices, improving verbal communication skills, enhancing nonverbal communication skills.
- Surgery – It is usually recommended when other treatments have not proved effective. The type of surgery will depend on the child’s condition. For example, some children may need surgeries to release tight muscles, lengthen tendons, or straighten bones.
Cerebral palsy is a difficult medical condition that can affect people differently. It is best to consult with a doctor or other medical professional to get a diagnosis and develop a plan. Data is available to help people with cerebral palsy and their families.