Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder caused due to static ischemic brain injury. Hypoxia during birth process or after birth can cause brain damage and cause cerebral palsy. Depending on area of brain involved due to ischemia symptoms of cerebral Palsy manifest and results in abnormal movement of various body parts of a child. Cerebral Palsy can be any of the four different types – spastic (most common), ataxic, athetoid / dyskinetic, and mixed. Despite being a non-progressive neurological disorder, Cerebral Palsy affects a child’s motor function and muscle movement. About 70% of children suffer with spastic cerebral palsy which is caused due to damage caused to brain’s motor corex. Early diagnosis and timely intervention can give better results.
As discussed earlier cerebral Palsy is caused due to brain injury due to hypoxia caused by many reasons like birth trauma, Meconium aspiration, and increase billirubin level during early days of life as well as abnormal development of brain. Prematurity is one of the risk factor for cerebral palsy. Some genetic disorders like enzyme deficiency and intrauterine infections may also lead to cerebral palsy.
The symptoms of Cerebral Palsy differ from child to child based on severity of the brain damage. It may affect one limb (monoplegic), Bilateral lower limb and one upper limb (Diplegic), half of body (Hemiplegic), all four limbs (Quadriplegic), all limbs trunk and head (Total body involvement). The common symptoms of Cerebral Palsy are muscles weakness, spasticity, difficulty in moving the joints, lack of muscle balance and coordination. Other problems like squint, difficulty in speech, problem in sucking/swallowing, drooling of saliva, delay in motor development, and gastrointestinal problems. Developmental delay and delay in all milestones like neck holding, sitting, standing, walking etc all are delay.
Parents first notice this problem when there is delay in milestone like neck holding and sitting. Detailed history about prematurity, birth trauma, meconium aspiration, low APGAR score, history of resuscitation after birth, jaundice, pneumonia etc gives idea about cause of cerebral palsy. In older child clinical examination to check spasticity, reflaxes confirms diagnosis. Cranial ultrasound, MRI is a diagnostic tool to examine area involve in the brain.
Treatment of cerebral palsy involves multispecialty like developmental paediatrician, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, eye care, psychologist, dietician, and orthopaedic surgeon and orthotist. A combined approach gives better results. The child must be treated without any delay. Treatment of Cerebral Palsy primarily focuses on making the child self-sufficient and helping him to live independently. A orthopaedic surgeon always combine traditional therapy, medication, and surgery to improve the child’s motor functionalities.
Early the treatment better is the results. Treatment should be started from very first year of life. The recovery period of Cerebral Palsy differs according to severity of symptoms and treatment. The therapists help the child to live independently and improve his quality of life. The combination of medication, surgery and braces further improves the child’s motor functions.