Cerebral palsy is caused by an abnormality or disruption in brain development, usually before a child is born. In many cases, the exact trigger of this abnormality isn't known. Factors that may lead to problems with brain development include:
- Random mutations in genes that control brain development.
- Maternal infections that affect the developing fetus.
- Fetal stroke, a disruption of blood supply to the developing brain.
- Lack of oxygen to the brain related to difficult labor or delivery.
- Infant infections that cause inflammation in or around the brain.
- Traumatic head injury to an infant to a motor vehicle accident or fall.
Signs and symptoms can vary greatly. Movement and coordination problems associated with cerebral palsy may include:
- Variations in muscle tone, such as being either too stiff or too floppy
- Stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity)
- Stiff muscles with normal reflexes (rigidity)
- Lack of muscle coordination (ataxia)
- Tremors or involuntary movements
- Slow, writhing movements (athetosis)
- Delays in reaching motor skills milestones, such as pushing up on arms, sitting up alone or crawling
- Favoring one side of the body, such as reaching with only one hand or dragging a leg while crawling
- Difficulty walking, such as walking on toes, a crouched gait, a scissors-like gait with knees crossing or a wide gait
- Excessive drooling or problems with swallowing
- Difficulty with sucking or eating
- Delays in speech development or difficulty speaking
- Difficulty with precise motions, such as picking up a crayon or spoon
Conventional treatment methods involve systems, practices and products that have been researched, tested and approved by the medical community as acceptable forms of treatment. Complementary medicine differs from conventional as it has not yet been fully tested or approved, but may be under consideration. Complementary medicine, when used under doctor supervision, can be used as a complement to an existing treatment plan. Alternative medicine is a treatment method that is used to replace conventional medicine.
There are risks involved in using complementary or alternative forms of medicine so anyone considering a CAM should consult with their doctor before engaging in these forms of treatment.