CEREBRAL PALSY


Cerebral Palsy is not a single disease but refers to a group of disorders that result from damage or abnormal functioning of areas of the brain called the motor area. This area of the brain usually controls movement, muscle tone which maintains balance and posture.  The damage may be present before birth, during birth or in the first few years of life.  The damage to the brain is permanent and does not progress, however the symptoms may change as the brain matures and different symptoms become evident.

There are different forms of cerebral palsy which usually depend on the area of the brain that has suffered damage.

Children with spastic cerebral palsy tend to have increased stiffness which can be worse in the legs than the hands (spastic diplegia). In some cases, one side of the body is more affected (spastic hemiplegia), or in some other cases, both the hands and legs may be affected (spastic quadriplegia). Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common types, accounting for almost 80% of all cerebral palsy cases.

Children who are unsteady when they walk or have difficulty with balance or controlling their hands when they want to carry out an activity may have a rare form of cerebral palsy called ataxic cerebral palsy.

A further (rare) type of cerebral palsy is athetoid cerebral palsy, which can cause involuntary movements especially in the face, arms and body. These movements can interfere with speaking, feeding, grasping and other movements that require fluid movements. In some children, the movements can become more pronounced when the child is stressed and can disappear during sleep.

Some children may have a combination of symptoms from the different groups (mixed type)

A child with cerebral palsy usually requires several investigations to help identify the cause of the cerebral palsy. In some cases, this may include a brain scan. Some children may never have the cause of their cerebral palsy identified.

Children with cerebral palsy usually need to visit physiotherapists, who can help with movement andmobility, occupational therapists who can help with daily functioning and mobility in their hands and speech and language therapists who can help with language development.

Children with cerebral palsy may have other disabilities such as eye problems, hearing difficulties or seizures. The children usually require a lot of support at home and at school and need to be under the care of a developmental paediatrician who helps to identify the child's difficulties and coordinates the care. Children with cerebral palsy may be educated in regular schools with some support or in more severe cases, may need to be educated in special schools.

©Stadn Ltd

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