Cerebral Palsy

A simple, yet helpful guide regarding Cerebral Palsy

Understanding

To the Family and Friends:
Living with someone who is suffering from Cerebral Palsy can be difficult but it is important to point out the many different options that are available and could help a great amount. While Cerebral Palsy is still uncurable and is lifelong, there is a wide array of options to help take as much positive out of the situation as possible.

Did You Know?
Scientists have been developing new procedures to correct some joint deformities and lengthen muscles to improve quality of walking and reduce pain. For those with reduced speaking skills, many different options have been made available to help the person communicate with the rest of the world. A few of the speech options include sign language, writing boards and speech generating devices.

Did You Know?
There are many organizations that are devoted strictly to the research of Cerebral Palsy as well as different groups that come together to share their stories of how CP is affecting them. A great example is United Cerebral Palsy, which educates and provides support services to ensure a life without limits. Source 2. Another group that has come together to provide various resources to not only the families but the communities to is the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine.



Coping

Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects many babies and children each year. The word cerebral means having to do with the brain. The word palsy means a weakness or problem in the way a person moves or positions his or her body. A child with CP has trouble controlling the muscles of their body. Being a parent of a child with cerebral palsy can be overwhelming, but it is important to remember that as the parent you have to help your child through this. For many children. parents are very much involved in self-care activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming and eating. Educating yourself about your childs condition can help you be prepared for what lies ahead and ask the right questions. Getting the information you need can be hard, one way to help you through this process is to be a strong advocate for your child and making sure they are a strong advocate for themselves.

When coping with a child with CP it is important to develop a strong support system, try to involve family, other parents of kids with CP, and also friends and neighbors. Go out and search for all community and financial supports available ask other parents what services they're using. Also it is a good idea to get your child involved in special needs oriented community and school programs. You don't have to go through it alone there are ways to make it easier.


What can be done?

Children and adults with cerebral palsy require long-term care with a medical professional. These professionals may be a pediatrician, pediatric neurologist, orthopedic surgeon, physical or occupational therapist, speech language pathologist, and a social worker. These peoples job are to help make life easier for the cerebral palsy patient. It's important to talk about the risk of drug treatments with your doctor and discuss whether medical treatment is appropriate for a child's needs. The selection of medications depends on whether the problem affects only certain muscles (or the whole body. There is no cure for cerebral palsy. The goal of treatment is to help the person be as independent as possible. Putting a child with CP in regular schools is recommended, unless physical disabilities or mental development make this no longer a option, special education or schooling may help.


Know Your Risks

Since Cerebral Palsy is a developmental disorder;that occurs while the brain is developing, there is not much of a way to know for sure if the child actually at risk. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,some cases of CP have been diagnosed because of a lack of oxygen to the developing brain.

Another risk factor of CP is head injury to a developing child. CP has been accompanied with children that have had seizures and mental retardation in some cases. Its important to understand that not every case of head trauma or other head disorder should be linked to CP. It should be noted that if you have reason to believe your infant is experiencing signs of CP, you should have them screened and evaluated.

According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, there are 17 million people worldwide that are living with CP. Now this, does not mean every case around the world is extreme, in fact quite a few cases are so moderate that the person affected can actually perform many tasks that unaffected people can do. It all depend on how much the brain development has been affected.


Varieties of CP

There are many ways to classify cerebral palsy. When describing the type of movement impairment, providers often talk about spastic, dyskinetic and mixed cerebral palsy.
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Spastic cerebral palsy is characterized by increased muscle tone. Muscles are unusually tight and stiff, which affects movement and growth. Spastic cerebral palsy is often associated with damage to or developmental differences in the part of the brain called the cerebral cortex. Spastic cerebral palsy encompasses approximately 80 percent of all cases of cerebral palsy.
There are three main types of spastic cerebral palsy—each affecting different areas of the body:
Diplegia affects the legs more than the arms. This type of cerebral palsy is most common in premature babies.
Hemiplegia affects one side of the body. This type of cerebral palsy is most common in babies who've experienced strokes or traumatic brain injuries.
Quadriplegia affects the entire body—the legs and the arms. This type of cerebral palsy is most common in babies who experience a lack of oxygen.
Dyskinetic Cerebral palsy
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is characterized by uncontrolled fluctuations in muscle tone and by involuntary, sustained or sporadic movements. This type of cerebral palsy is often associated with damage to the parts of the brain called the basal ganglia and the cerebellum.
People who have dyskinetic cerebral palsy experience involuntary movements, such as tremors, or have difficulty balancing and making coordinated movements. They might also experience other types of complex movement disorders.
Mixed cerebral palsy
Mixed cerebral palsy describes people who experience features of both spastic and dyskinetic cerebral palsy. This type of cerebral palsy is associated with damage to multiple areas of the brain.

Understanding the Causes

Any disruption in brain development or damage to the brain that occurs around the time of birth or early in life can lead to cerebral palsy.
Developing fetuses and infants up to age 1 can develop cerebral palsy if they experience brain damage or disruptions in brain development caused by:
  • Bleeding in the brain before, during or after birth
  • Infections of the brain, including meningitis or encephalitis
  • Shock—a state in which organs and tissues don’t receive adequate blood flow
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Seizures at birth or in the first month following birth
  • Certain genetic conditions
In some cases, health care providers are unable to determine the precise cause of a child’s cerebral palsy.
Older children can develop symptoms similar to those of cerebral palsy if they sustain traumatic brain injuries, experience a lack of oxygen, or contract an infection such as meningitis. Children whose injuries occur when they are older receive a diagnosis of brain injury rather than cerebral palsy.


Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms appear during infancy or preschool years. cerebral palsy causes impaired movement associated with exaggerated reflexes, floppiness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, unsteadiness of walking, or some combination of these.