Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects sensory and motor skills. It is usually caused by brain damage that may happen during pregnancy, delivery and the first 3 to 5 years of a child’s life due to several reasons discussed below.
Why Are Some Babies Born With Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy can be a result of –
- Problems caused during pregnancy. The brain of a fetus in some cases of complicated pregnancies can be damaged, underdeveloped or develop abnormally.
- This damage can be caused due to infections, maternal health problems or genetic disorders.
- Problems during labor and delivery might also cause cerebral palsy. Difficult or prolonged labor may cause lack of oxygen supply to the brain. Head trauma during labor can also cause damage to the brain.
- Premature babies are usually at a greater risk of having cerebral palsy than babies that are carried to term.
- Other factors like lead poisoning or bacterial meningitis in early infancy or childhood can also cause cerebral palsy.
What Are the Possible Effects of Cerebral Palsy on Child’s Development?
#1 Growth Related Issues
Brain damage in cerebral palsy can lead to several health issues like loss of vision, the problem in hearing, speech defects and learning disabilities.
#2 Standing and Maintaining Balance
Since cerebral palsy affects overall muscle control and coordination, even simple movements like standing still and maintaining balance are difficult.
#3 Regular Life Functions
Other functions such as breathing, bladder and bowel control, eating, and talking can also be affected when a child has cerebral palsy.
What Is the Life Expectancy of a Child With Cerebral Palsy?
Most parents are concerned regarding what the future holds for their child. Life expectancy of a child suffering from cerebral palsy depends upon the severity of the condition.
A child with suffering from a mild case of cerebral palsy usually lives longer than a child suffering from a complicated one.
Following the advice of your healthcare provider, taking proper treatment and undergoing available therapies can help improve the quality of life and it’s overall expectancy.
How does Cerebral Palsy affect Overall Development of a Child?
Varying degrees of physical disability is observed in children suffering from cerebral palsy. Some kids might suffer only from mild forms of impairment, while others can be severely affected depending on the extent of brain damage.
A child with cerebral palsy can suffer from medical issues such as –
- Delayed or slow development.
- Visual impairment
- Hearing loss
- Speech problems.
- Excessive salivation and drooling.
- Sleep disorders
- Weakness of bones
- Behavior issues
- Communication problems.
- Various intellectual disabilities.
Some kids may also experience food aspiration where the food or fluid go into the lungs or gastroesophageal reflux which involves spitting up of food.
Is There a Cure to Cerebral Palsy?
Till date, no cure has been found for cerebral palsy but alternative therapies are available to help the children struggling with the same.
In some cases, surgeries can also help kids who are living with this condition.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Cerebral Palsy
If you are observing similar signs & symptoms mentioned above, it’s important for you to take your child to a Pediatrician who can further assess whether your child has cerebral palsy or not.
A series of laboratory tests, MRI, cranial ultrasound and EEG will be done to assess if the child has cerebral palsy or not. These tests will also determine the degree of brain damage and its possible causes.
Cerebral palsy requires long-term care and treatment.
Therefore It’s important for you to visit and consult –
#1 Pediatrician –
A Pediatrician will assess your child’s overall development and help you understand the possible course of treatments that can help your child.
#2 Pediatric neurologist –
It’s important that you involve or take the opinion of a professional and trained medical doctor who can evaluate your child’s neurological development. A Pediatric Neurologist will treat your child neurological disorders and advise you how to manage them.
#3 Orthopedic surgeon –
Children suffering from cerebral palsy have weakened and underdeveloped bone and muscle structure. An Orthopedic surgeon will examine your child’s bone and muscular development and make sure that your child is treated accordingly.
#4 Physiotherapist –
Physical therapies can help your child improve his muscle strength and coordination skills. A physiotherapist will not just recommend exercises that are essential for your little one, but will also ensure that they are done correctly for more effective results.
#5 Speech & language therapist-
A speech therapist can determine and evaluate your child’s speech development and disorders associated with it. Along with this, your therapist will also offer the correct and effective course.of treatment that will help your child improve his speech and language-related skills.
#6 Psychiatrist or Psychologist –
A Mental health specialist can be involved in your child’s care. He or she can help you understand and accept your situation. Your doctor will also help you and your child learn to cope up with all the difficulties in a better manner.
Medication for Cerebral Palsy
Your doctor can prescribe medications that can improve the condition of your child’s muscles. Some medications can also improve functional abilities, reduce drooling, effectively treat pain and help manage other complications related to your child’s condition.
It’s important for you to discuss available drug treatments, their effectiveness and the risks associated with it. Make it a point to meet your doctor and discuss whether the offered medical treatment is appropriate for your child’s condition or not.
Surgery for Cerebral Palsy
Orthopedic surgeries can improve the condition of children suffering from severe muscle and bone deformities. Surgical procedures can help lengthen muscles and tendons that are proportionally too short compared to the body.
Surgical corrections can improve joint mobility. They also improve the overall body structure and lessen pain.
What Can You as a Parent Do for Your Child?
- Notice and write down your child’s current symptoms. Document the changes that are occurring in his life during the course of his treatment.
- Make a list of your child’s medications and supplements. Have a detailed discussion with your doctor regarding the dosage and duration.
- Make a list of questions that you need to ask your doctor on your next visit.
- You can also ask a friend to accompany you during your visits to the doctor so that more information is understood and retained.
It’s important that you take your child to all regularly scheduled visits and monthly appointments. These visits are extremely important as they help your baby’s doctor to monitor his/her sensory and motor skills development according to his age.
Children suffering from cerebral palsy need love care and attention along with proper medical treatment that ensures a healthier life.
Don’t be hesitant to question or speak out on your child’s behalf. Ask questions regarding your child’s treatment and improvement from his physicians, therapists, and teachers.