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Understanding Cerebral Palsy

How often have you heard your family members boast about your first step or the first word you spoke? For children with Cerebral palsy taking a first step or saying a first word is not as easy.

Cerebral palsy is a disability that affects body movement and position. It arises from brain damage that happened either before the baby was born, at birth, or shortly after birth. The whole brain is not damaged, only parts of it, mainly parts that control movements. Children affected by it have problems in mobility (crawling, creeping, walking), use of hands (eating, writing, dressing) and communication. The movements, body positions, and related problems can be improved or made worse depending on how the child is treated and how damaged his or her brain happens to be. The earlier the treatment is started greater is the improvement achieved.

CAUSES

  • Pre-Natal Causes: genetic factors, premature birth and maternal infection.
  • Natal Causes: hypoxia (lack of sufficient oxygen) during difficult labor and birth trauma that may damage the brain cells of the child.
  • Post-Natal Causes: infections like Encephalitis which cause cerebral damage.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

  • Early sucking difficulty with the breast or bottle.

  • Lack of normal muscle tone and slow development of milestones.

  • Unusual body postures.

  • Purposeless body movements and poor coordination.

  • Various degrees of mental retardation and speech impediments.

TYPES OF CEREBRAL PALSY

  • Spastic Type (muscle stiffness): This is the most common type. The child has muscle stiffness thus causing part of his body to be rigid or stiff. Movements are slow and awkward. The stiffness increases when the child is upset or excited, or when the body is in certain positions.
  • Athetoid type (Uncontrolled movements): The arms and legs may seem jumpy and move nervously, or a hand or the toes may move for no reason. Most children with athetosis have normal intelligence, but if the muscles needed for speech are affected, it would be hard for them to communicate their thoughts and needs.
  • Ataxic Type (poor balance): The child has difficulty in beginning to sit and stand. Child falls often and hand movements are clumsy.

TREATMENT

For a child with cerebral palsy, the problem with the brain will not get any worse as the child gets older meaning, a child who has cerebral palsy that affects only the legs will not develop cerebral palsy in the arms or problems with speech later on.  However, the effect of cerebral palsy on the legs can get worse and some children may develop dislocated hips or scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine). That is why early Rehabilitation is so important for such children. This involves a team of Physiotherapist, Occupational therapist and Speech therapist to help them develop skills like walking, sitting, swallowing, and using their hands. Some medications can help relax the muscles and at times special surgeries may be advised to keep their arms or legs straighter and more flexible.

Above all, parents need to understand and come to terms with the problem that their child has, in order to help him in the best possible way.

So contact us today on +(91) 989-116-1025 or (+91) 989-921-3413 for a no-obligation consultation or to source out information about how Muskaan can benefit you or your loved ones.

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