Cerebral Palsy in Children
Among the conditions that are out there, cerebral palsy is one that affects many children. Every year there are thousands of children born with this condition, and parents have to adapt their lifestyles to caring for these kinds of children. It’s not that children with cerebral palsy are bad, it’s just that – as with other disorders conditions – these kinds of children need special attention and treatment throughout the course of their lives. This enables them to live a relatively normal life with as little modifications as possible. If someone you love has cerebral palsy, here is all of the information you need to know.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy is a condition that can impact a child’s ability to move properly. It presents itself at birth or shortly after, and can sometimes be linked to a child receiving an injury to the brain. This injury can happen as a deformation during development before birth, or an injury after birth. Doctors have also noticed that premature babies have a much stronger likelihood of developing cerebral palsy because they spend several weeks-months on a ventilator to help them finish developing and growing outside of a mother’s stomach.
This disease affects a child’s ability to control muscles due to a developmental error/injury to the brain. As you will read about later on, children can have varying severities of cerebral palsy which means different kinds of treatment are required.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are three kinds of cerebral palsy that a child can have: spastic, athetoid and ataxic. The most common kind of cerebral palsy is spastic, typically. Each of this kinds of cerebral palsy presents differently.
Spastic cerebral palsy means that a child cannot relax his or her muscles at all. This means that all of the muscles in the body will be overly stiff and quite often sore as the child ages. This stiffness can vary in terms of severity and discomfort for the child.
Athetoid cerebral palsy presents itself as a difficulty in controlling/moving the different muscles in the body, normally the arms and the legs. This means that they will have trouble doing certain tasks that require fine motor skills. This could cause their arms or legs to randomly move, too, sometimes in a soft fluttering, sometimes in a hard whack. This is an incontrollable action for the children.
Lastly, children with Ataxic cerebral palsy tend to have difficulty with coordination and balance. This tends to be the most minor form of cerebral palsy, though it is still a serious condition to be living with for both child and family.
As mentioned, all of these forms can come in varying severities. As you can probably imagine, children living with the least severe cases can live relatively normal lives, whereas those children who have the severe cases – no matter what form it takes – need support and someone to take care of them for pretty much all of their lives.
Signs of Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Since cerebral palsy is present in children under the age of three year old, a diagnosis cannot be obtained the normal way that an older child or adult would be diagnosed. That is, the child is unable to communicate his or her problems, so it is up to the caretaker to diagnose them himself/herself. If you are concerned that your child may have cerebral palsy, or you are an expectant mother that wants to be properly prepared for when the child is born, here are some things to watch for.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the “signs” of cerebral palsy. The only way that a physical sin can be seen in a child is if there is some sort of brain injury. In this case, the doctor would be able to see on a brain scan that there is a problem in the brain.
The rest of the world diagnoses cerebral palsy based on details that they notice as the baby is developing. Mainly, problems with movement. If an infant is having trouble sitting up on his own, standing up or maintaining balance, these are some of the easiest-to-spot symptoms to watch for. Every baby topples over when learning to move, of course, but if you see repeated problems/weaknesses with this, it could be a sign that means you should go and see a doctor abut your child’s development.
Another common symptom of cerebral palsy is delayed development. This could include talking, walking, fine motor skills, etc. A child with cerebral palsy – even in its mildest forms – would be slower to develop than your average child. While late development doesn’t necessarily point towards cerebral palsy, it is a good indicator that something else is going on.
As far as muscle tone is concerned, if a child has overly tense muscles, or trouble relaxing them, this could be a sign that s/he has cerebral palsy. This can be seen in tense arms that have trouble bending, or in limbs that are flopping all over the place. This normally points to the fact that a child’s case of cerebral palsy is moderate to severe. All of the signs of cerebral palsy in a child would be present before the age of three. A pediatrician or other specialist would be the one to diagnose a child with cerebral palsy and develop a treatment plan for the child and family.
Remember that, as scary as cerebral palsy sounds, it doesn’t mean a decrease in the quality of life of a child. It just means that adjustments need to be made so that the child can have a profitable and enjoyable life. In some cases, around the clock care-taking needs to take place. In other times, physiotherapy and massage therapy can be enough to help the child be comfortable and develop normally. Cerebral palsy is shockingly common amongst children and there are probably people in your life that have mild forms of it. With help and treatment, it is manageable.