Cerebral Palsy: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
Cerebral palsy is a very dangerous disease that may cause permanent damage to body movement, muscle coordination, and balance. It is one of the most popular chronic conditions of childhood, with 2-4 per 1000 children from 3-10 years old get affected. As a result, knowledge of the condition’s symptoms, causes and treatments are necessary in order to prevent this disease.
What is Cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect the ability to control movement, speech, learning, etc. It is the result of damage to the developing brain’s cerebral hemispheres that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth. Linguistically speaking, “Cerebral“ refers to the brain, while “Palsy” means muscular problems/weaknesses.
For now, CP is the most popular motor disability in childhood. Symptoms of the condition include but are not limited to motor control problems, muscle weaknesses, coordination, eating, and even problems with other cognitive functions such as the ability to see, hear and communicate.
There are 3 main types of cerebral palsy: Spastic, Dyskinetic, and Ataxic.
- Spastic. This is the most common type, in which there is an increase in muscle tone. As a result, the patient’s muscles become stiff, and they may suffer from jerky movements.
- Dyskinetic. This type accounts for 10-15% of cerebral palsy cases. In this case, patients may have trouble involuntary movements that can be twisting, repetitive, slow, or unpredictable.
- Ataxic. This condition is characterized by shaky movements that affect the ability to retain balance, coordination, posture, and even the eyes’ movements.
What causes Cerebral palsy?
Researchers believe that brain damage and disorders that occur during pregnancy, childbirth or during the child’s early years are what cause Cerebral palsy. Specifically, these include:
- Premature birth;
- Lack of oxygen to the brain or other essential nutrients before and after birth;
- Serious injuries in the head;
- Dangerous infections that affect the brain such as meningitis, rubella;
- Genetic problems that affect brain development.
However, in many cases, it is not so easy to determine the exact causes of this condition. As cerebral palsy is an umbrella term that is defined based on the condition’s result rather than its causes, different CP patients will suffer in different ways.
Signs & Symptoms
What are the symptoms of Cerebral palsy?
All children with cerebral palsy have problems with physical activity as well as postures. However, for some children, these problems are much more serious.
Common symptoms of the condition include limb weakness and difficulty in walking. In some cases, children may have trouble controlling their movements and their mouth or tongue, making it difficult to eat and speak. For those who suffer from more severe cerebral palsy, they may experience seizures or mental retardation.
Additionally, children and adolescents with Cerebral Palsy are prone to low trauma fractures during activities such as dressing and handling.
How serious is Cerebral palsy?
Children with cerebral palsy are likely to experience numerous physical disabilities. Depending on the amount of damage to the brain, the effects will vary. In extreme cases, the condition may cause several complications, including:
- Vision loss or blindness;
- Hearing loss;
- Food entering the windpipe;
- Gastroesophageal reflux;
- Speech problems;
- Sleep disorders;
- Osteoporosis (bones become porous and fragile).
Diagnosis & Treatment
How is Cerebral palsy diagnosed?
Different types of brain cells are involved in neurological function, allowing communication between the brain and other body parts. These types include neurons, astrocytes, microglia, oligodendrocytes, ependymal cells, and more. In the case of cerebral palsy, some or all of these cells may become damaged, depending on which area of the brain is injured.
Diagnosis is generally performed based on an MRI of the patient’s brain in combination with symptom observation. In addition, the patient needs to be tracked during their childhood to observe important developmental milestones like crawling and walking.
How is Cerebral palsy treated?
Up to now, there is no complete cure for Cerebral palsy. Instead, the focus of treatment is to reduce the symptoms, particularly improving the ability to communicate. Most of the time, the patients will work with various doctors to deal with different aspects of the condition.
- Medications can be taken to relax muscles and address feeding problems;
- Physical therapy/ occupational therapy can help improve the patient’s ability to perform their daily tasks;
- Speech therapy is a popular method to improve the ability to communicate;
- Stem cell therapy is a new, yet promising treatment that can stimulate the immune system and improve brain functions.
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Cerebral palsy http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cerebral-palsy.html# Accessed on July 16, 2019
Cerebral Palsy http://www.webmd.com/children/tc/cerebral-palsy-topic-overview#3 Accessed on July 16, 2019
Stem Cell Treatment for Cerebral Palsy CP: https://stemcelltreatmentnow.com/treatments/stem-cell-treatment-cerebral-palsy/ Accessed on July 16, 2019
Cerebral Palsy (CP) / Stem Cell Therapy: https://globalstemcells.com/treatment/cerebral-palsy/ Accessed on July 16, 2019