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Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a neurological illness caused by brain damage. It is the most common movement and motor disability of childhood. Cerebral palsy refers to a group of symptoms and disabilities. They are all related but each child will have a unique and individual experience of cerebral palsy. This neurological illness affects over 500,000 people in the U.S. There is no cure, but treatments and therapies can make a big difference.   

 

What Causes Cerebral Palsy? 

Brain damage is the cause of Cerebral Palsy, but many different things can trigger damage such as: 

  • Genetic conditions 
  • Poor brain development in the womb 
  • Disruption of blood flow to the developing brain 
  • Maternal infections or medical conditions 
  • Ingestion of toxins or drugs during pregnancy 
  • Complications related to premature delivery 
  • Damage to the head or skull during delivery 

 

Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy 

Some of the signs of Cerebral Palsy are: 

  • Scooting on the bottom instead of crawling 
  • Delays in movements and motor skills, such as walking, holding head up, sitting, rolling over, or crawling 
  • Favoring one side of the body 
  • Body parts that are too stiff or floppy 
  • Inability to stand, even with support 

Always consult the pediatrician if your child if notices unusual symptoms, even if you are not sure they are caused by cerebral palsy.  

 

Risk Factors of Having Cerebral Palsy 

It is very significant to understand that risk factors are not signs or symptoms of cerebral palsy. The more risk factors a baby has the greater their chances of developing the condition. Conversely, not every baby that develops this condition has many or all risk factors. Some risk factors like prematurity seem to be more vital than others. 

  • Birth Complications 

Complications throughout the delivery process that interrupts oxygen supply can increase a baby’s risk of developing cerebral palsy. Previously, birth complications were thought to be the only cause of cerebral palsy, but as science progressed, various other factors were discovered. 

  • Infections 

Certain maternal and fetal infections can increase the risk of an infant developing this type of condition, especially if not treated promptly.  

Rh Incompatibility and Blood type 

Rh incompatibility and Blood type occur when the blood type of a mother is different and not compatible with her infant’s. Rh or blood incompatibility does not always mean that a baby will progress cerebral palsy, but a risk factor. A blood compatibility test must be carried out during early pregnancy or after childbirth if your baby develops jaundice. 

  • Multiple Births 

Carrying twins or multiples have been related to a higher chance of infants developing this condition because of various complications that tend to surface when carrying more than one infant, including: 

  • Breech birth position 
  • Premature delivery 
  • Low birth weight 

 

Safety Precautions  

There are steps you can take to lower the risk of having this condition: 

  • Before pregnancy, eat well and have any pre-existing medical problems under control. 
  • While pregnant, continue with these healthy habits and take recommended prenatal vitamins. 
  • See your obstetrician for regular check-ups throughout pregnancy. 
  • Get screened for potential complications. 

 

Treating Cerebral Palsy  

  • Surgery 

This is a serious part of treatment for several children. Surgical procedures may manage pain or improve mobility. Common procedures include the repair of hip dislocations, tendon or muscle release, and scoliosis surgery.  

  • Therapies 

There are different categories of therapies are used for babies and children with cerebral palsy. They may improve social, mental, physical, and learning deficits. If started early, therapies for this condition can lessen impairment and the risk of developing other associated conditions. 

Common types of therapy used to help children with cerebral palsy are: 

  • Speech/Language 
  • Physical 
  • Behavioral 
  • Feeding 
  • Occupational 
  • Aqua 
  • Music 
  • Horse and animal 
  • Play 
  • Bowel program 

 

Medications for Cerebral Palsy 

Several medications help control seizures, spastic movements, relieve pain, and manage other symptoms and related conditions: 

  • Anticonvulsants 
  • Antacids 
  • Anticholinergics 
  • Baclofen or other muscle relaxants 
  • Diazepam 
  • Sleep aids 
  • Stool softeners/laxatives