Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a term used to describe disorders of movement that result
from injury to the brain. It is a problem of muscle coordination. The muscles
themselves are not effected but the brain is unable to send the appropriate
signals necessary to instruct the muscles when to contract or relax. Cerebral
Palsy can be caused by numerous problems occurring in the prenatal period,
prematurity, labor and delivery complication in the newborn period due to
genetic or chromosomal abnormality to the brain may not develop in the typical
way. Some environmental factors such as drugs metabolic problems, and placental
dysfunction may also lead to CP. Previously it was thought that most infants
with cerebral palsy had brain injury because of difficulties during labor and
Today only, a small portion of children who are later diagnosed to
have Cp. had birth injuries or oxygen deprivation during delivery. There are
three types of Cerebral Palsy. Spastic Cp. is the most common among children.
Children with Spasticity will have tight or sometimes rigid muscles and are
unable to move included limbs well. The imbalance and increased muscle tone may
be slight and may appear as clumsiness. However this imbalance can also appear
very severe so that the child in unable to move voluntarily with good control.
Choreothetoid Cerebral Palsy is a term used when children have abrupt
involuntary movements of the arm and legs. For people with this type of Cp.
controlling the extremities to carry out activities is extremely difficult. Then
there is mixed Cp. in which a person suffers a mixture of spacitiy and
Most Children with Cerebral Palsy can be diagnosed by
the time they reach the age of eighteen months. Any predictions for an infant
under 6 months are little better then guesses, and even for children younger
then one it is difficult to predict the pattern of involvement. By the time the
child is two years of age the physician can determine whether the child with Cp,
has hemiplegia, dipelgia, or quadriplegia. It is worth saying that a child with
Cerebral palsy does not stop doing activities once they have begun them. Such a
loss of skills is called regression and that is not a characteristic of Cp. If
regression occurs it is necessary to look for a different cause of the child’s
problem. In order for a child to be able to walk, some major events in motor
control have to occur.
A child must be able to hold his head up before he can
sit on his own, and must be able to sit independently before he can walk on his
own. It is generally assumed that if a child is not sitting up by himself by the
age 4 or walking by age 8, he will never be an independent walker. But a child
who starts to walk by age 3 will certainly continue to walk when he is 13 years
old unless he has a disorder other then Cp. The first questions usually asked by
parents after they are told there child has cerebral palsy are “What will
my child be like?” and “Will he walk?” When it comes to
expectations and questions of what the future holds for a child with Cerebral
Palsy, it is important to maintain a combination of optimism and realism. About
one, half of all children with Cp. have seizures.
A seizure is an abnormal
message that may cause someone to loose control of his or her body. Children may
take special medication to reduce their seizures. About one Fourth to one, half
of kids with Cp. have some type of learning problem. It may be a learning
disability or it may be more severe learning problem like mental retardation.
Many children with Cp. may need ongoing therapy and devices such as wheelchair.
Generally, 90% of children will live up to there 20’s and beyond. However
children with quadriplegia (affecting all 4 extremities) and severe mental
retardation have a lower survival rate.
Services for the school age child may
include continuing therapy, regular or special education, counseling, technical
support, community integration opportunities, recreation and possible personal
attendants. An essential factor seems to be a supportive family. People are
extensively affected by cerebral palsy can still be highly functional and
independent. The HEALTH Resource Center, the clearinghouse on post-secondary
education or individuals with CP, are enrolled in colleges and universities.
There are increasing number of measures that can be taken prenatal to reduce
risks of cerebral palsy. The best advice is to get medical care as soon as you
know you are pregnant.
Controlling diabetes anemia, hypertension, and
nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy will help prevent some cases or
prematurely which can reduce the chance of Cp. There is no cure for Cerebral
palsy yet. Important advances have taken place in the last 15 years, which have
had a great affect on long term well being of children born with Cp. Advanced
technology, including computers and engineering devices has been applied to the
needs of persons with Cerebral palsy. Technological innovations have been
developed in the areas of speech and communication, self-care and adapting
living arrangements and work sites. The future may bring applications that are
even more significant. Coping with Cerebral Palsy may be difficult. Parents may
feel disappointed, depressed even angry at first. Some parents blame themselves
for their child’s disability, while some families find comfort in spirituality.