Cerebral palsy or CP is a medical disorder that affects motor skills, movement, and muscle tone in children. The condition results from brain damage that occurs during a baby’s birth, before birth, or during the first five years of a child’s development. CP can trigger other health conditions, including hearing, vision, or speech problems along with learning disabilities.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
Whilst there is no cure for CP, children with the condition can be treated surgically or with special equipment or therapy. The condition is categorised under three classifications, as follows:
- Spastic CP causes problems with movements and stiffness.
- Ataxic CP involves problems with balance and depth perception.
- Dyskinetic CP leads to uncontrolled or involuntary movements.
Because CP affects muscle coordination and control, basic movements, such as eating, can be challenging. That is why it is important to focus on a child’s nutritional needs who has CP. Other functions that involve the use of muscles or motor skills can also be impacted. These functions may include talking, control of the bowels or bladder, or breathing. The condition will not worsen over time.
No Exact Causes Are Known
Research on cerebral palsy has not revealed the exact causes for the condition. However, many of the cases result from health problems during pregnancy. At this time, the brain of the foetus may not develop normally or may be damaged. This could result from maternal health issues, infections, or a genetic disorder – any health condition that affects the development of the brain. Typically, any problems during labour will not lead to CP.
Low-weight Babies Are at Risk
Usually, a premature infant that weighs less than 1,510 grams has a higher risk for developing CP than babies who are not premature. Low birth-weight infants or multiple births, such as twins, have a higher risk of developing CP as well.
Any brain damage that happens in early childhood can lead to the development of cerebral palsy. For instance, a toddler may suffer brain damage after suffering bacterial meningitis or following exposure to lead. Shaken infant syndrome or an injury from a car accident can also lead to the development of CP.
Making a Diagnosis
Usually, a CP diagnosis is confirmed after a doctor watches an infant at risk for a specific time. If a baby is carried to term, a diagnosis can be more difficult. Frequently, a physician cannot diagnose CP until he or she observes a delay in a developmental milestone. For instance, a child who is not sitting up by the time he or she is seven months old may have CP.
Kids who have CP have varying differences in physical disability. Whilst some are mildly impaired, others can be seriously affected. The degree of severity depends on the amount of brain damage.