What Is Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a form of brain damage that affects thousands of newborn children around the world every year. With no definitive cure known as of yet, people who have CP tend to suffer its effects for their entire lives. It is caused by damage to the motor control centers inside the brain. There are several types of CP that occur during pregnancy, childbirth and up to three years of age. Among them is spastic cerebral palsy. It is the most common form and contributes to over seventy percent of CP cases.

The treatment for individuals affected with the spastic form of cerebral palsy involves a combination of physical therapy and surgery. The muscles as well as the joints are exercised to stop them from falling into a state of immobility. When muscles and joints, which have not been exercised, are combined with abnormal and poor posture, there is a great tendency for the muscles to begin to shorten, resulting in limited flexibility and movements.

Therapists normally use muscle-relaxing substances like botulism toxins during treatment for the spastic form of cerebral palsy. It is injected into a certain group of muscles being prepared for surgery or physical therapy. If further mobility and flexibility are still not achieved during a particular therapy session, then decompression of a patient’s spinal cord and nerves will need to be performed in order to decrease the transmission of nerve impulses on particular muscles; thereby relaxing them. Occasionally, orthopedic aids are used to help CP sufferers’ legs and arms in the proper position and to help with movement.

Permanent disabilities can result if spastic CP is not treated in a timely fashion. Debilitating loss of bladder control, uncontrollable shaking and permanent contraction of the hands can result if treatment is delayed or denied. Treatment really depends on the level of severity of the condition in a particular person. Some individuals with the spastic form of cerebral palsy have mild symptoms, while others need a more intensive treatment program for severe symptoms.

There are over three quarters of a million children with cerebral palsy in the United States alone. Cerebral palsy is term used to refer to several neurological disorders that cause problems for children while in the womb, during labor and delivery, and soon after birth. The three main types of cerebral palsy are athetoid, ataxic and spastic. Often times, the signs and symptoms of the condition are not apparent until it is noticed that the child does not reach normal developmental milestones.

Cerebral means brain, and palsy means any disorder of posture or movement. When you combine the two words, cerebral palsy, you get a disorder of posture or movement originating from damage to the brain. From the first stages of development in the womb until the age of three years old, the brain undergoes rapid developmental changes. Since cerebral palsy is a disorder that occurs during development, once a child has moved passed those early days of development, the condition does not develop. Children with cerebral palsy will exhibit symptoms of the condition before they reach age three.

Understanding what cerebral palsy encompasses is the first step in understanding how to help children with cerebral palsy to better deal with their condition. The most aggressive approach to cerebral palsy is not with treatments, but with prevention in the first place. There are certain steps that can be taken in order to reduce the risk of a brain injury during pregnancy and childbirth. Infection prevention in the pregnant mother is a key factor. Making sure mom’s-to-be take their prenatal vitamins and are in good physical health are other ways as well.

Cerebral Palsy

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