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Cerebral Palsy - An Overview

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder of movement and coordination, it is characterized by lack of muscle tone and posture.

The symptoms of cerebral palsy are likely to be blindness, epilepsy, deafness, intellectual disability and inability to walk.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is mostly caused due to a disruption in the development of the brain during birth. However, the cause of this disruption or abnormality is not known. Several factors that lead to the condition include:

  • Random mutation in the genes controlling development of brain.
  • Maternal infection affecting the development of fetus.
  • Infant infection causing brain inflammation.
  • Traumatic head injury including birth injuries.
  • Fetal stroke leading to disruption in blood flow, thus hampering development of brain.
  • Lack of oxygen

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy symptoms vary and can be found in early childhood. The ones affected by cerebral palsy may face movement problems such as:

  • Stiff and floppy muscles
  • Rigidity in movement of muscles
  • Involuntary movements
  • Excessive swallowing or drooling
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Difficulty in holding objects
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Difficulty in writhing movements

Other abnormalities with cerebral palsy lead to neurological problems. Persons having cerebral palsy may also suffer from:

  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Oral problems
  • Intellectual disability
  • Seizures
  • Psychiatric health problems

Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy

A doctor specializing in treating brain and nerves disorder (neurologist) will recommend tests to diagnose cerebral palsy. These tests include:

  • MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging): It helps in identifying abnormalities and lesions.
  • Cranial ultrasound: It helps in primary examination of brain.
  • CT (Computerized tomography) scan: It helps in identifying abnormalities.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG): If the person suffers from seizures and epilepsy, EEG test helps in determining cerebral palsy.

Doctor may recommend more tests to diagnose conditions such as blood clotting, vision and hearing impairment, intellectual disabilities, etc.

Treatment of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy treatment is long-term and requires medical care of several medical professionals such as pediatrician, pediatric neurologist, orthopedic surgeon, physical, occupational and developmental therapist, mental health specialist, social worker and teacher.

Medications can also help in lessening the stiffness of muscles and improve functional abilities.

Several therapies can also help in treating a person with cerebral palsy which include physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy.

In some cases, surgery may also be needed to correct the bone abnormalities and lessen the tightness of muscles.

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