Cerebral palsy (CP) refers to a group of disorders that affect muscle movement and coordination. In many cases, cerebral palsy also affects vision, hearing, and sensation. The word “cerebral” means having to do with the brain. The word “palsy” means weakness or problems with body movement.
Cerebral palsy is the most common cause of motor disabilities in childhood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it affects 1 to 4 out of every 1,000 childrenTrusted Source worldwide.
The symptoms of cerebral palsy vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. Some people with cerebral palsy may have difficulty walking and sitting. Other people with cerebral palsy can have trouble grasping objects.
The effects of the condition can become more or less obvious or limiting as a child grows and develops motor skills. They also vary depending on the part of the brain that was affected. Some of the more common symptoms include:
• delays in reaching motor skill milestones, such as rolling over, sitting up alone, or crawling
• difficulty walking
• variations in muscle tone, such as being too floppy or too stiff
• spasticity, or stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes
• ataxia, or a lack of muscle coordination
• tremors or involuntary movements
• delays in speech development and difficulty speaking
• excessive drooling and problems with swallowing
• favoring one side of the body, such as reaching with one hand
• neurological issues, such as seizures, intellectual disabilities, and blindness
Causes of cerebral palsy
In most cases, the exact cause of cerebral palsy is unknown.
Atypical brain development or injury to the developing brain can cause cerebral palsy. The damage affects the part of the brain that controls body movement, coordination, and posture. This brain damage usually occurs before birth, but it can also happen during birth or the first years of life.
Other possible causes include:
• head injuries as a result of a car accident, fall, or child abuse
• intracranial hemorrhage, or bleeding into the brain
• brain infections, such as encephalitis and meningitis
• infections acquired in the womb, such as German measles (rubella) and herpes simplex
• asphyxia neonatorum, or a lack of oxygen to the brain during labor and delivery
• gene mutations that result in atypical brain development
• severe jaundice in the infant
Long-term outlook for people with cerebral palsy
There’s no cure for cerebral palsy, but some of the effects can often be managed and many complications can be prevented or delayed. The specific type of treatment varies from person to person. Some people with cerebral palsy may not need very much assistance, while others might need extensive, long-term care for their symptoms.
Regardless of the severity of the condition, treatment can improve the lives of those with cerebral palsy by helping them enhance their motor skills and ability to communicate.
Sources: Eblity.com and Healthline.com
Image Sources: www.arcpbc.org