General Illness Information
Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Medical Term: None Specified
Description: Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of patients with a non-progressive impairment of movement and posture that is a result of a central nervous system abnormality that occurred prenatally, perinatally or during the first three years of life
Cerebral palsy is not a disease and it is non progressive and non hereditary. Incidence is 1 to 2 in every 1000 births but is 10 times more common in premature infants and is particularly more common in very small infants.
Causes: Cerebral Palsy causes defects in the brain and spinal cord. In 70% of the cases -reasons obscure and often unknown. In 90% of cases, injury occurs before or during birth. Incidence is high among babies who are small at birth.
Some of the known causes are:
- Oxygen deprivation before or during birth;
- Maternal infections e.g. Rubella;
- Infection in the newborn;
- Newborn jaundice (kernicterus).
Prevention: Arrange for good medical care during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Eat a normal, well-balanced diet during pregnancy. Don’t drink alcohol or use any drugs, including non-prescription drugs, during pregnancy without consulting your doctor. Try and avoid sick and infected people if you are pregnant.
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms vary widely among children with Cerebral Palsy – depending on severity; a number of the symptoms below will be present:
- Later stiffness and muscle spasm develop.
- Slow development (walking, talking). Early sucking difficulty with breast or bottle.
- In early infancy, child may appear floppy.
- Purposeless body movements.
- Poor co-ordination and balance.
- Cross-eyes or strabismus.
- Fever, sometimes accompanied by chills and sweats.
- Varying degrees of mental retardation.
- Excess alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
- Seizures in the mother during pregnancy.
- In utero infections
- Encephalopathy in the perinatal period.
- Meningitis postnatally
- Interventricular hemorrhage
- Intravenous drug use.
- Child abuse
Diagnosis & Treatment
- There is no cure. Proper treatment can help affected children.
- Psychotherapy or counseling to help the family accept the disease and help the child achieve maximum potential.
- Surgery to correct muscular-system deformities (sometimes).
- Time in an extended-care facility for children with severe CP (sometimes).
- Because early diagnosis is important, be sure your child has regular medical checkups. Failure to diagnose CP may deny the child opportunities for special programs that maximize growth and development.
- Maintain an optimistic outlook for yourself and your child. High expectations can sometimes be met.
- Seek help and advice from other parents whose children have cerebral palsy.
- Investigate resources in your community, including educational and physical-therapy programs and support groups, to obtain treatment that maximizes your child’s capabilities. Contact the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation, 1(800) USA-1UCP. In Canada, contact the Canadian Cerebral Palsy Foundation at 1-800-267-6572.
- Anticonvulsants to control seizures may be necessary.
- Muscle relaxants to relieve spasms may be prescribed.
Encourage your child to do as much as he or she can do. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and special equipment will help your child to reach full potential within limits set by this disorder.
No special diet. Constipation is frequent and stool softeners might be considered.
Possible Complications :
- Permanent disability.
- Injuries due to non-coordination.
Children vary widely in the severity of this condition. A child with CP may have high intelligence despite major muscular disability. Many children can be cared for in a loving home. Those with less-severe impairment can lead near normal, productive lives. Children with severe impairments may require special care and attention. Mental retardation is seen in 20-25% of patients with cerebral palsy