Cerebral palsy is a group of problems that affect body movements and posture. This is related to brain injury or problems with brain development. This is one of the most common causes of disability in children. Abnormalities in brain development cause reflex movements that a person cannot control and muscle stiffness can affect part or all of the body. Read more see what is cerebral palsy, below.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder, muscle tone or posture caused by damage to the immature and developing brain, most often before birth.
As reported by the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy appear during infancy or preschool. In general, cerebral palsy causes movement disorders associated with abnormal reflexes, floppiness or rigidity in the limbs, abnormal posture, uncontrolled movements, unstable walking, or a combination of these.
People with cerebral palsy may have swallowing problems and generally have eye muscle imbalances, where the eyes do not focus on the same object. People with cerebral palsy may also suffer from reduced range of motion in various joints of their body due to muscle stiffness.
The effect of cerebral palsy on functional ability varies greatly. Some people affected can walk while others cannot. Some people show normal or almost normal intellectual abilities, but others may have intellectual disabilities. Epilepsy, blindness, or deafness may also be present.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Infants with severe cerebral palsy often have problems with their posture. Their bodies may be very flexible or very rigid. Birth defects sometimes occur together with the occurrence of these brain development abnormalities. Examples of birth defects include spinal deformities that do not have a normal shape, small jaw bones or small head.
Problems that cause cerebral palsy do not get worse over time. But new symptoms of cerebral palsy can get worse as the child grows older. This is why some babies born with cerebral palsy do not show clear signs immediately. Cerebral palsy in adults can cause mental stress that is quite heavy or commonly called depression. Cerebral palsy in adults requires intensive moral support from family and people around so that depression does not get worse.
Signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy can vary greatly. Movement and coordination problems associated with cerebral palsy may include:
- Variations in muscle tone, such as too stiff or too weak
- Stiff muscles and excessive reflexes
- Stiff muscles with normal reflexes (stiffness)
- Lack of muscle coordination (ataxia)
- Tremors or involuntary movements
- Slow and stretched movements
- Delay in achieving motor skill milestones, such as pushing arms, sitting alone or crawling
- One side of the body, such as reaching with only one hand or dragging feet while crawling
- Difficulty walking, such as walking with toes, crouching gait, gait like crossing with a knee cross, wide gait, or asymmetrical gait
- Excessive salivation or problems with swallowing
- Difficulty sucking or eating
- Late development of speech or difficulty speaking
- Difficulty with proper movements, such as picking up crayons or spoons
Disabilities associated with cerebral palsy may be limited mainly to one limb or one side of the body, or may affect the whole body.
Brain disorders that cause cerebral palsy do not change over time, so the symptoms usually do not worsen with age. However, muscle shortening and muscle stiffness can worsen if not treated aggressively.
Brain disorders related to cerebral palsy can also contribute to other neurological problems. People with cerebral palsy may also have:
- Difficulty with vision and hearing
- Intellectual disability
- Abnormal touch or pain perception
- Mouth disease
- Mental health conditions (psychiatric)
- Urinary incontinence
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
It has been explained above that cerebral palsy is one of the most common causes of disability in children. Usually, this abnormality in children can be detected when the child starts at 3 years old. The cause of cerebral palsy is brain injury or problems that occur during pregnancy, birth or within the age of 2-3 years of a child’s life.
The following are other causes of cerebral palsy:
- Premature birth problems
- Not enough blood, oxygen, or other nutrients before or during birth
- Serious head injury
- Serious infections that can affect the brain, such as meningitis
- Some problems go from parents to children (genetic conditions) that affect brain development.
In many cases, the exact cause of cerebral palsy from this condition of brain development abnormalities is unknown. All people with this condition have problems with body movements and posture. In fact, some people who experience this condition become a little limp or difficult to walk.
Some other patients have little or no control of their arms and legs or other parts of the body, such as the mouth and tongue, which can cause eating and talking problems. People who have severe forms of cerebral palsy are more likely to have other problems, such as seizures or intellectual disabilities.
Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy
The pediatrician will do a physical examination and ask about the child’s medical history. The doctor will ask about the child’s growth and problems during pregnancy and childbirth.
The doctor may also ask about the child’s development such as whether there is a delay on his stomach, crawling, walking, and even late talking.
Investigations such as computerized tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head or perhaps to see images of the brain required ultrasonography (USG). Some of these tests can sometimes help doctors find the cause of this condition of the brain disorder.
If the child has a severe form of the condition for this brain development disorder, the doctor may be able to determine the problem in the first few weeks of the child’s life. But parents are often the first to realize that their children do not have the abilities and skills that are common compared to other children in the same age group.
Developmental delay can be an early sign of this condition. Even when this condition is present at birth, signs of cerebral palsy may not be noticed until a child is 1 to 3 years old.
Now, you might be wondering, can cerebral palsy be cured? Unfortunately, because this condition is an abnormality that occurs due to congenital birth, there is no drug that can make cerebral palsy fully recovered. However, even though cerebral palsy cannot be cured, you and your child can do things to help deal with symptoms, prevent problems, and optimize the ability of the child’s brain. Physical therapy is one of the most important treatments. Medicine, surgery, and special equipment such as walkers or walking aids can also help.
Meeting the daily needs of family members with cerebral palsy is not easy. If a family member experiences this health condition, join a community that has members with the same problem. Join groups or other parents who have children with special needs, so you don’t feel alone. Apart from that, you can also seek counseling.
This method can help you understand the emotions of yourself and your child. Understanding that your child has cerebral palsy is not easy and raising a child with a certain condition like this will definitely be difficult. But the better you can take care of children, the child will be able to use the brain optimally.
Treatment of Cerebral Palsy
Children and adults with cerebral palsy need long-term care with a medical care team. This team can include:
- Pediatrician or physiotherapist. A pediatrician oversees treatment plans and medical care.
- Pediatric neurologist. A doctor who is trained to diagnose and treat children with brain and nervous system (neurological) disorders may be involved in caring for your child.
- Orthopedic surgeon. A doctor who is trained to treat muscle and bone disorders may be involved in diagnosing and treating muscle conditions.
- Physical therapist. A physical therapist can help your child improve strength and walking skills, and stretch muscles.
- Occupational therapist. An occupational therapist can provide therapy for your child to develop daily skills and learn to use adaptive products that help with daily activities.
- Speech-language pathologist. A doctor who is trained to diagnose and treat speech and language disorders can work with children if your child has difficulty speaking, swallowing or language.
- Developmental Therapist. A developmental therapist can provide therapy to help your child develop age-appropriate behavior, social skills and interpersonal skills.
- Mental health specialist. A mental health specialist, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, might be involved in caring for your child. He can help you and your child learn to overcome your child’s disability.
- Recreational Therapist. Participation in arts and cultural programs, sports, and other events that help children develop physical and cognitive skills and abilities. Parents of children often note improvement in speech, self-esteem, and emotional well-being of children.
- Social worker. A social worker can help your family find services and plan a care transition.
- Special education teacher. A special education teacher deals with learning disabilities, determines educational needs and identifies appropriate educational resources.
Prevention of Cerebral Palsy
The cause of cerebral palsy is sometimes unknown but the relationship of cerebral palsy and certain conditions during pregnancy, birth, and prematurity have been explored. Some of these causes can be prevented but some cannot.
Doing everything you can before and during pregnancy can help prevent cerebral palsy or reduce the risk that brain injury will occur in a developing baby. Here are some tips for healthy habits before and during pregnancy.
- Eat nutritious food.
- Do not smoke.
- Avoid exposure to hazardous substances.
- See a doctor regularly.
Here are some steps that can help prevent cerebral palsy or the occurrence of these brain development abnormalities in children to minimize the risk of getting brain injury, including:
- Take steps to prevent accidents.
- Make sure parents are familiar with the signs of jaundice in newborns.
- Know how to prevent lead poisoning.
- Keep children away from people who have serious infectious diseases, such as meningitis.
- Make sure the child’s immunization is complete and timely.
It is very important to know whether a child has a condition of this brain development disorder. Therefore, you must always pay attention to the stages of child development, whether it is in accordance with the development according to his age.