Cerebral Palsy Overview

Cerebral Palsy is a disease that usually manifests during the early years of a child’s life, and is the umbrella for a range of disorders that can affect the control of movement in some way. The symptoms of this disease usually present themselves before the age of three, and the causes of cerebral palsy can vary. There are a number of symptoms that can present themselves during the early years of a child’s life, and could indicate the presence of cerebral palsy. In some cases, it can be difficult to diagnose cerebral palsy because some of the symptoms may be so subtle that they are barely noticeable.

There are a number of symptoms that could indicate the presence of cerebral palsy. However, many of these symptoms could also be indicative of other diseases, which can also make this condition difficult to diagnose with speed. Many parents are unaware that their child has cerebral palsy for some time, due to the non-specific nature or the subtlety of some of these symptoms. Some of the symptoms include:

Lack of head control
Poor motor development
Delays in walking or crawling
Muscle abnormalities (stiff or over-relaxed muscles)
Loss of co-ordination and balance
Difficulty in co-ordinating and writing
Involuntary spasms and movements
Problems with hearing, sight, and speech
Problems with bladder and bower control
Slow general development

There are a number of ways in which cerebral palsy can be caused, and these can vary widely. The various causes of cerebral palsy come under two categories, and these include:

Acquired cerebral palsy: Up to twenty percent of cerebral palsy sufferers have acquired cerebral palsy, and this is where the disease is acquired after birth. Some of the causes of acquired cerebral palsy include brain infections or damage in youngsters, head injuries, and bacterial meningitis.

Congenital cerebral palsy: This is a far more common variation of cerebral palsy. It can take a long while to detect this form of cerebral palsy, which is caused by damage to the motor areas in the brain. Some of the causes of this damage can include: infections or damage during pregnancy, problems during labour or delivery of the baby, and even untreated jaundice as a baby.

More often than not, the parents are the first to notice any problems or signs of these symptoms, and parents that have any suspicions with regards to the presence of cerebral palsy are advised to seek medical advice as early as possible. There are various tests that a doctor can perform in order to confirm whether the child does have cerebral palsy, so seeking advice will enable you to confirm the presence of the disorder or will put your mind at rest if the doctor advises that there is no presence of cerebral palsy.

A doctor may carry out developmental analysis in order to determine whether or not the child has cerebral palsy, and comparing the child’s development against normal development can often enable the doctor to make this determination. Testing the child’s reflexes can also help the doctor to make a diagnosis, and you may find that your child tends to favour one hand over the other, as many cerebral palsy children do.

Because cerebral palsy is not a degenerative disease, it will not worsen as the child grows up. The treatment for the disorder can vary in terms of the level and severity of the disease. Some forms of exercise can help, such as running and walking. There are various types of physical activity and assistance that can help, and a doctor will normally recommend the necessary activity and assistance. Behavioural and emotional counselling and therapy are also available, and in some cases – for instance, where the child has seizures – drug therapy may also be necessary.

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