Cerebral Palsy (CP) is an condition that impacts muscle strength, mobility and coordination. It is caused by the fact that the brain fails to properly transmit signals to muscles regarding how to move smoothly or well-coordinated manners. Cerebral Palsy may also affect other bodily functions that require muscles and motor skills, including bladder, breathing, control of bowels, eating and speaking.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral is a term used to describe something related to the brain. Palsy is a term used to describe weakness or issues when it comes to using the muscles. Cerebral Palsy can be caused due to an abnormal brain development or injury to the brain’s development that can affect a person’s ability manage their muscles. Someone with severe CP might require special equipment in order to walk, or may not be in a position to walk in any way and may require ongoing treatment. A person who has mild Cerebral Palsy however, on the other hand, may have a difficult time walking and may not require any assistance. Cerebral Palsy is not a condition that gets worse with time but the symptoms may vary over the course of one’s life.
Four Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are four types of Cerebral Palsy:
- Spastic cerebral palsy that causes stiffness and difficulty moving
- Dyskinetic (athetoid) cerebral palsy caused by uncontrolled movement
- Ataxic cerebral palsy is a condition that can cause problems of balance, as well as perception (judging the distance between two objects)
- Mixed cerebral palsy is when someone is suffering from multiple types of cerebral palsy
Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Cerebral palsy is a disorder of the nervous system that can be found in a variety of types. Cerebral palsy symptoms differ based on the severity and type and also the particular child.
Spastic Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Spastic cerebral palsy is a type of hypertonia is the most frequent type of disorder and is seen in over 75% of cases.
The cause is a deterioration of the motor cortex of the brain in the months prior to, during or soon after the birth. It could affect any muscle group within the body of the infant.
Symptoms of spastic cerebral palsy can include
- Inability to meet the standard milestones for sitting or crawling
- Unusual movements
- Stiff muscles, spastic muscles
- Problems controlling and coordinating muscle movement
- Problems with speech, for example badly formed or slurred words
- Insufficient coordination of the muscles of the mouth and tongue, that can affect swallowing, and makes the process difficult for people to consume food or drink.
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy isn’t as prevalent like spastic cerebral palsy. It is distinguished by abnormal involuntary movements. However, spasticity is less of a role in the disorder. Muscle tone varies and can change often.
Symptoms of dyskinetic cerebral palsy can include
- Repetitive twisting motions (dystonia)
- Unpredictable, irregular movement (chorea)
- Writhing and slow movements (athetosis)
- The pace of movement can vary from quick to sluggish and could be associated with discomfort
- An awkward posture and lack of coordination
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Ataxic cerebral palsy that affects about 2.6 percent of people with the disorder. it is similar to dyskinetic cerebral palsy, in that both babies and children have unnatural movements. It’s caused by injury to the cerebellum which is the central brain area that is responsible for coordination and balance.
Symptoms of ataxic cerebral palsy can include
- Shaky movements and tremors
- Poor coordination
- Balance instability
- Speaking in a monotone, breathy voice that has a strange pause between phrases
Mixed Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Children suffering from mixed cerebral palsy show the symptoms of different forms of disorder including having hyperexaggerated reactions as well as scanning of the speech. The symptoms will vary based on the kinds of cerebral palsy the child is suffering from. Mixed cerebral palsy typically involves both non-spastic and spastic symptoms.
Cerebral Palsy Causes & Risk Factors
Cerebral Palsy cause due to an abnormal growth of brain cells or by damage to the brain’s development that hinders a child’s ability manage their muscles. There are many possibilities for the Cerebral palsy cause of this abnormality or the damage. Many believed that Cerebral Palsy was mostly due to a lack of oxygen in the process of birth. Scientists now believe this is only the cause of a small percentage of Cerebral Palsy cases.
The abnormal brain development or the damage that results in Cerebral Palsy could cause prior to birth, at birth, within one month after birth, or in the first few years of a child’s development during the time that your brain’s development is in full swing. Cerebral Palsy due to an abnormal brain development or injuries that occur prior to or after birth is known as congenital CP. A majority CP (85%-90 percent) can be classified as congenital. In many instances the exact reason isn’t known. A small portion of Cerebral Palsy is due to abnormal growth of brain tissue, or by damage that develops over the course of 28 days following birth. This is known as acquired CP and typically is related to infections (such such as meningitis) or head injuries.
Complications in Cerebral Palsy
Complications in cerebral palsy either during childhood or in adulthood, which includes:
- Contracture: Contracture is muscle tissue shrinking as a result of excessive muscle tightening, which can be due to spasticity. Contracture may hinder bone growth as well as cause bones to flex and lead to joint dislocations, joint deformities or partial dislocation. These include hip dislocations, the curvature of the spinal column (scoliosis) along with other deformities of the spine.
- Mental health issues: People with cerebral palsy could be suffering from mental health problems including depression. A lack of social interaction and struggles of dealing with disabilities could cause depression. The same can be said for behavioral issues.
- Lung and heart diseases: People with cerebral palsy can develop lung disease, heart illness and breathing problems. The difficulty swallowing can cause respiratory issues like aspiration pneumonia.
- Insufficiency: Swallowing or feeding issues can make it difficult for a person with cerebral palsy, especially infants to get enough nutrients. This could hinder the growth of bones and cause them to weaken. Certain children and adults require an eating tube to ensure sufficient nutrients.
- Osteoarthritis: Pressure on joints or a distorted alignment of joints due to muscle spasticity could result in the early development of this degenerative and painful bone disease.
- Osteoporosis: Fractures due to the low bone density could result from many factors including insufficient mobility, inadequate nutrition and the use of anti-epileptic drugs.
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