Studying Cerebral Palsy from Appearance, Syndromes, Diagnosis and Curative Measures

Published: 2021-09-24 04:25:09
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Category: Illness

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Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that results from a brain injury or malformation. Cerebral palsy, or CP, is considered to be a blanket term, as it affects each patient differently but is most commonly described as impaired muscle movement or coordination. Affecting roughly one in 323 children, cerebral palsy patients are either born with it, or acquire it shortly after birth (cdc.gov). As the disorder is non-progressive and caused by a brain injury or abnormality during birth, the symptoms are chronic, incurable, and non-transmittable.
The effects of cerebral are different for each patient, depending on the area of the brain that is affected. CP primarily affects muscle coordination and body movement and is characterized by impaired motor function. The two main categories of Cerebral Palsy are congenital and acquired. Congenital CP results before the delivery of the child, while acquired CP results after the child has been born. Most cases of CP occur as a result of a malformation during prenatal development. There are many scenarios that could increase the likelihood for a child to be born with the disorder. While some cases occur as a result of the mother, others occur as a result of the child acquiring an infection or brain injury.Congenital CP results from a variety of reasons. It is incredibly significant that a mother remains healthy during pregnancy in order to minimize the possibility of the disorder occurring. Mothers at increased risk include ones pregnant with multiple children, including twins or triplets, ones with thyroid gland issues, ones with RH Disease, or mothers that come into contact with toxic substances such a mercury (webmd.com). Mothers can also increase the likelihood of their child being born with CP by acquiring an infection during pregnancy. Syphilis, toxoplasmosis, and chickenpox are only a few (webmd.com). Not only is child at risk if the mother contracts a disease or infection, but the child itself is at risk if he/she contracts an infection during development. Bacterial meningitis, severe jaundice and viral encephalitis increase the likelihood (webmd.com). Diseases and infections are not the only factors that increase the likelihood. Complications during birth, premature birth, low birth weight, and breech babies are more susceptible to CP. Inadequate blood flow to organs, bleeding of the brain, seizures at birth or within a month afterward, and genetic predisposition play a role as well. Traumatic injuries to the head and brain can result in CP while the child’s brain is developing, particularly before the age of five. Males and African American children are at a higher risk than women and caucasian (cdc.gov). The first or fifth child are also at a higher risk and pregnancies before the age of twenty induce CP (scope.org).
Every individual affected experiences CP differently to some degree depending on the cause and the areas of the brain affected. There are three main types of cerebral palsy: Spastic, Dyskinetic, and Ataxic. Spastic is the most common, affecting 75-88% of patients with CP (scope.org). Spastic CP causes the muscles to tighten for long or permanent periods of time. This results in a decreased range of movement, as well as pain. With the muscle tone being so tight, oftentimes, muscles can go into spasm causing more pain. Roughly 15% of CP patients are affected by Dyskinetic CP (scope.org) This causes patients to experience involuntary muscle contractions that are normally accompanied with slow, rhythmic movements. Dyskinetic CP affects balance as the entire body becomes harder to maintain upright posture. Speech can also become difficult as control over the vocal cords, tongue, and throat muscles is affected. Finally, Ataxic CP affects roughly 4% of CP patients (scope.org). Balance, spacial awareness, and depth perception are most commonly affected, but most patients are able to walk but with unsteady and shaky movements. Speech difficulties are also a common symptom of ataxic CP. As every case of cerebral palsy is different, patients most commonly have a combination of the three types of CP. Other general symptoms of CP include hearing impairment, feeding difficulties, drooling, sleep issues, epilepsy, and problems using the bathroom. Patients typically become tired more easily as the muscles are forced to work harder. Cerebral Palsy can also have an affect on learning as one third of patients find things difficult to understand, number and letters typically being more difficult (scope.org). Sound and light can also become more difficult to reach the brain.
As there is test that undeniably confirms or dismisses CP, doctors are able to diagnose children typically within 18 months (five years at most and at birth in extreme cases) (cerebral palsy.org). Oftentimes the effects of CP on a child are not initially noticed. Failure to reach developmental milestones such as walking or speaking or significant delay of these things can be a warning sign. Suspected children that are brought oftentimes participate in reflex, muscle tone, posture, coordination and other tests. To ensure diagnosis, medical specialists can conduct MRIs, CT scans, or cranial ultrasounds to look for abnormalities in the brain. Parents and pediatricians typically play the initial role in the diagnosis of CP, observing the behaviors and movements of the child. In rare cases, such as premature births or low-weight births, pediatric neurologists can monitor babies within the NICU or emergency units and are able to make a diagnosis there. The majority of the time, pediatricians begin to notice warning signs such as abnormal reflexes, impaired muscle tone, or developmental delay during regular well-baby checkups. Physical exams, lab tests of blood and urine, reviewing developmental and growth records, and assessing labor and delivery records all can play a role in diagnosis. A second opinion is often encouraged of parents in case of misdiagnosis.
While cerebral palsy is incurable, there are several ways to circumvent the related issues and treat the symptoms. Even though the disorder is non-progressive, the symptoms and associated conditions can improve and worsen altering the treatment that is necessary. As each case of cerebral palsy is different, so is the treatment options. Upon diagnosis, the child’s primary care physician will create a comprehensive treatment plan to meet the child’s needs all while considering the dynamics of the family. Usually, many medical specialists and therapists work together with the pediatrician to treat the child. Therapy and adaptive equipment are the main ways that CP is treated. For children with speech difficulty, a communication device may be necessary. For children with trouble eating, depending on the severity, children may have to be fed by others or even given pureed food. Botulinum toxin injections may be necessary to diminish pain and prevent muscle spasms. Patients experiencing seizures may be assisted by anticonvulsants. Things as simple as wheelchairs and hand splints are used for children unable to walk or with poor motor function and weak joints and muscles. In severe cases, orthopedic surgeon may be necessary to sever nerves, correct bone abnormalities, or decrease muscle tightness. Children may also participate in regular fitness exercises, pediatric checkups, and therapy sessions. Many of these treatments last for life as cerebral palsy is incurable.
Cerebral Palsy has a profound impact on the family and the child. As treatment plans last for the entire life of the patient, it costs a lot financially, emotionally, and physically on the family. Caring for a child with CP is time demanding and can be physically taxing as family members may have to wheel their child around everywhere, personally feed them, or self-teach them. A 2005 study concluded that among patients enrolled in Medicaid, medical costs were said to be ten times higher than for children without cerebral palsy or an intellectual disability (cdc.gov). For children with both CP and an intellectual disability, medical costs were said to be 26 times higher (cdc.gov). Over the lifetime of the patient, the medical cost to care for the patient is around one million dollars (cdc.gov). In addition to the economic and physical impact on the family, as well as the physical impact on the child, there is a huge psychological impact. It is imperative that treatment plans optimize communication, maximize independence, minimize pain, and improve social interaction. Families should strive to treat the child as normal as possible, allow the child to experience a high quality of life, and participate in as many normal everyday activities as possible.
While the repercussions of cerebral palsy are permanent and demanding, every child, with or without disability, ought to be treated equally with respect and care. Cerebral Palsy may affect many areas of a child’s life, but there are several ways to treat it. Whether through physical therapy, or psychological encouragement, a child can be shown the same love as a person without CP. A child may be diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but their diagnosis does not define them.

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