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Cerebral Palsy: Symptoms, Causes, Types, and Treatments
Cerebral palsy is an incurable disease that affects muscle movements, tone, and posture. This is caused by brain damage that occurs during the developing stage, mostly before birth. This can not be reversed by operation or by any other medical invasive procedure. There are no stages of deterioration but the symptoms may appear slowly.
Most of the time the symptoms appear during childhood or infancy in the following ways:
- Disruption of eye muscle coordination. In this case, both the eyes are pointed at two different objects at the same time.
- Limited movement-range at different joints due to muscle rigidity.
- Due to muscle imbalance, the coordination of legs is not perfect. People suffering from cerebral palsy often need assistance to walk.
- Late learning abilities of babies is one of the main symptoms.
- The patient often favours one side of the body and due to this excessive or disproportionate dependency, drooling is one of the major signs of cerebral palsy.
- The patient will face complications in doing day to day work like putting on shirt buttons and tying a shoelace.
Most of the signs appear during the preschool years that is when they are 3-4 years old. But if you notice any slight complication consult a doctor. Early diagnosis can make a lot of difference.
- If the mother suffers from an infection like German measles or Rubella during pregnancy it damages the white matter of the child’s brain. This also happens if the mother is on illegal drugs. This is also known as Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) which results in less oxygen supply in the womb.
- Sometimes a traumatic head injury can also lead to brain damage that causes cerebral palsy.
- Brain stroke also disrupts the blood flow to the brain resulting in multiple muscle rigidity and an imbalanced body.
- During pregnancy, if the mother experiences any severe injury on the stomach the child may suffer internal brain bleeding which is also a strong cause for cerebral palsy.
- Illness during infancy like jaundice, internal brain bleeding can lead to cerebral palsy.
- Spastic CP – Spastic Cerebral Palsy is the most common type of cerebral palsy that affects more than 80 per cent of the affected population. People affected with this type of cerebral palsy find it difficult to walk due to the limited range of muscle movement. It is also possible that a part of the body gets paralyzed.
- Dyskinetic CP – People suffering from Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy experience involuntary muscle movement and abnormal legs and arms movement. In some special cases, it also affects the tongue muscles, the whole face or any one side of the face. People with this type of cerebral palsy face extreme difficulty in sitting or walking or even lying down.
- Mixed CP – People affected with Mixed Cerebral Palsy face combined hardships of spastic and dyskinetic cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is incurable. But the main motive of treatment is to broaden the scope of muscle movements and prevent any further medical complications. Medications and surgery are the only two ways to treat cerebral palsy. Medicines like Valium Dantrium and Zanaflex are suggested by doctors to initiate with a low dose and increase it gradually. Sometimes doctors may also suggest Botox injection.
Orthopaedic surgery is often performed for pain relief. There are other treatments like speech therapy and specialized recreational counselling that are commonly practised worldwide.