First things first, we would never want such a situation to occur in your lives where the information cited below come of any practical use to you. We wish health and safety to you and your family. But the harsh truth remains that medical illness comes into our lives without the slightest warning and being unaware of them can be very fatal and foolish. Therefore, it remains a duty for us all to garner basic knowledge about them so that whenever they surface we recognize them instantly and know what we have to do in order to get rid of them because in medical issues, Time is of primary essence.
Cerebral Palsy: what is that?
For people who have never heard the term before Cerebral Palsy is actually a combination of many problems that cumulatively affect the posture and body movements of the victims. It has a direct relation to the human brain and is associated with its development and any types of injuries caused to the brain. In most of the cases cerebral palsy is brought about by brain injuries and can be very fatal in its outcome. In cases of children, it is a very frequent medical issue and has more than often causes a disability that lasts longer than usual.
Let us now analyze the origin of the term “Cerebral Palsy” before we delve deeper into the details. Many of us, mostly the ones acquainted with biology would know that the word “cerebral” refers to the Cerebrum which is a vital part of the brain. The next word “palsy” has a deep connection with paralysis. It refers to the effective paralysis of the voluntary muscles of certain parts of the body.
Plainly speaking, Cerebral Palsy cause tightness of body muscles in several body parts of the victim resulting in the subject to gradually yet effectively lose control over his or her own reflex actions. These can further lead to other mild or severe problems such as visual disability, intellectual retardation and common seizures. Before we tend to associate cerebral palsy to some form of mental disease let us analyze the cause s which leads to such a dismal condition.
An important thing to mention in this context is that Cerebral Palsy does not generally cause threatening concern with life expectancy. If handled properly it can be taken care of with minimal damage. But the reverse effect can also take place that is conditions can worsen over time if not dealt with appropriately.
Cerebral Palsy: what actually causes it?
As stated earlier Cerebral Palsy is usually brought about by some serious injury to the brain and which generally cause abnormal brain development. But the hard fact is, as with most medical conditions, we can never accurately know the exact cause of the disease, all we have is a fair estimate.
This abnormality is most likely to occur to the subject even before his birth, during pregnancy or during the first few years of his or her life. That is why Cerebral Palsy is mostly associated with children. The infant or fetal brain is mostly subject to this dangerous disease. Certain parts of the brain control motor functions and impactful damage to those particular parts results in children to get affected by Cerebral Palsy and hence have a really hard time coping with movement, posture and balancing difficulties.
Contradictory to the effects of cerebral palsy it does not concern any problem related to the muscles or even nerves although that is exactly where it affects. Cerebral palsy is strictly a medical condition concerning the brain development and moreover brain damage.
It is very important for parents of the children affected by this dreadful disease to sort out the exact injury which may have led to this disease. Certain doctors and many specialists are available in this field to help them out with this concern. The common causes for Cerebral palsy may be enlisted below.
- Asphyxia or the condition where inadequate oxygen is supplied to the brain during, before or after the birth of the child.
- Infections generally caused by certain viruses or bacteria.
- Fatal injuries to the head which were sustained as the child was being born or in the first few months after his birth.
- Hemorrhaging or bleeding inside the brain.
- Poisoning caused by mercury from fish and from toxoplasmosis from meat, usually under-cooked or raw meat.
- Significant exposure to alcohol or drugs before birth that is prenatal exposure.
- Certain genetic problems regarding damage to the brain or even low value of blood sugar may also cause Cerebral Palsy to develop in the child.
- Premature birth of a child may also result in Cerebral palsy development in the child. Although such cases are extremely rare.
Having stated the above causes it must also be stated that about 40 percent of cerebral palsy cases have a reason that remains unexplained. These cases are very critical and sharp reasoning does not really work out the exact cause even with clinical trials.
Cerebral palsy: Its symptoms
As strange as it may sound, the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy vary from child to child. Every other child who is a victim of Cerebral Palsy have shown different levels of varying symptoms. Many of those symptoms fail to attract our attention and often go unnoticed while most of them are quite intense. The3 ultimate determining factor in the severity of the symptoms depend on the intensity of the injury received on the head by the child.
A quick tip for the parents, they should keep checking for significant brain development milestones of their children every now and then. While usually the children might tend to meet many such milestones within the expected time, their missing them will give the parents their first sign of concern about their child’s health.
Let us have a quick glance at the various common symptoms observed in Cerebral palsy victims.
- Stiffness of the muscles leading to serious difficulties in movement of certain body parts.
- In many cases paralysis of one side of the body may be observed where the other side will be free of any problems.
- Cerebral palsy often causes our reflex actions to become jerky or stretched. This harms our daily actions quite seriously because in our reflexes we generally depend on when we are outdoors.
- Some patients may feel a sense of distorted balance while walking or running. This is caused due to the lack of coordination of the body parts which is a very vital aspect in order to ensure proper locomotion.
- Occasional drooling might also become a regular symptom.
- Sudden tremors might surface in various body parts of the victim.
- A medical condition called dysarthria which causes acute problems with speech is also a frequent symptom of Cerebral palsy.
- Very often gastrointestinal problems may surface because of the Cerebral Palsy.
- Shortening of muscles also popularly known as Contracture in medical science is common.
- Motor skill development may get severely delayed.
- Seizures are also a common trait in patients suffering from Cerebral palsy.
This list is actually non-terminable because as I mentioned before Cerebral palsy symptoms are not accurately defined and newer symptoms may surf up any day. Apart from these abovementioned symptoms several other medical issues may coexist in cerebral palsy victims which may occur more frequently in the victims than those who are unaffected.
- Disorders concerning mental health.
- Chronic discomfort accompanied with acute pain.
- A certain medical condition called attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) disorder
- ASD or Autism Spectral Disorder.
- Learning incapability
Types of Cerebral palsy
The disease may be unambiguous but there are certain classifications based on the type of problems caused and their location on the human body. Different levels are also diagnosed based on the severity of the disease.
Mainly there are 4 types of classification:-
- Spastic cerebral palsy:- Observed in more than 70 percent of cerebral palsy cases this is by far the most common one and it usually caused due to severe damage to the motor cortex of the brain. Stiff movement and exaggerated reflexes are commonly observed in such cases.
- Dyskinetic or Athetoid Cerebral Palsy:- Injuries to the basal ganglia of the brain which controls the basic balancing actions and coordination mechanisms of the body are the main cause of this type which is less common and typically observed in 10 percent of the total cases. This type is commonly associated with involuntary tremors in children affected by it.
- Ataxic Cerebral palsy:- The cerebellum which connects the spine to the brain is hugely responsible for maintaining our body balance and functioning smooth coordination of our body parts. Injuries to the cerebellum thus lead to Ataxic cerebral palsy which is generally characterized by the absence of coordination and problems regarding body balance. This type of cerebral palsy is also diagnosed in 10 percent of the victims.
- Mixes cerebral palsy:- The classification often gets blurry when patients start to exhibit symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy. 10 percent cases are categorized under this type and are termed as mixed Cerebral palsy.
As mentioned before paralysis of a certain part of the body is also a dominant symptom. The location of the paralysis as well as its severity can also be used to group Cerebral Palsy.
- Monoplegia:- Paralyses only a single limb
- Diplegia:- Also known as paraplegia this causes two limbs to be paralyzed, usually both the legs.
- Hemiplegia:- Associated with the paralysis of a hemisphere or side of the body.
Quadriplegia:- The whole body essentially gets paralyzed.
How do we diagnose it?
Cerebral palsy in children is mostly observed within the age interval of 18 months to 5 years. Every child’s brain develops at a different pace and thus it becomes tough for doctors to diagnose such irregularities in a child’s mental behavior and development. Medical science does provide a series of imaging tests that may come of potential use in determining or rather diagnosing Cerebral Palsy.
- Computed Tomography Scan or CT
- Cranial Ultrasound
- MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- EEG or Electroencephalogram
And for treatment..
Cerebral Palsy can be treated medically in a two-fold manner, early life treatment and long term lifelong management. The former is essential in children because the body and the brain is more resilient once it is young and developing, a young brain provides more opportunities for improvement and correction of the subject’s movement limitations rather than an old and mature brain.
Most of us tend to misinterpret the term treatment in case of cerebral palsy and incorrectly think of it as a method to fully cure the children from the symptoms and causes of cerebral palsy. Treatment is rather about taking care of the brain development of the child and making it suitable to such an extent where the child can prosper as much independently as possible. It is heartening to learn that many children affected with the disease is now leading a self-sufficient and satisfying life capable of activities that normal children would.
The key to tackle Cerebral Palsy in the most efficient manner is to treat the coinciding symptoms most actively and effectively. Traditional therapy is the mostly used method along with medication and often surgery. A multidisciplinary team comprising of medical experts is mostly advisable for the parents to seek help from. Such a team will not only make sure that all the affected aspects of your child is properly tended to but will also help a great deal to ensure that their motor skills develop to the highest extent. Children suffering from this dreadful disease must have every opportunity to fight back and recover from its clutches. A healthy brain will thus lead to a prosperous mind resulting in your child to lead a better life.