WHAT IS CEREBRAL PALSY?
It is a disability that affects movement and body position. It is due to brain injury that occured either before the baby was born, at birth or within the first 5 years of life. The whole brain is not impaired, only parts of it, mainly those that control movement. Once injured, the parts of the brain neither recover nor get worse. However, movements, body position and related problems can be improved or made worse depending on how the child is treated and how severe the brain injury is. The earlier the treatment is started, greater is the improvement.
TYPES OF CEREBRAL PALSY (CP)
- Spastic CP – Here, the child’s muscle tone is very high or tight. Children with Spastic CP have stiff and jerky movements. They often have a hard time moving from one position to the other or letting go of something in their hand. This is the most common type of CP.
- Ataxic CP – Low muscle tone and poor co-ordination of movement is described as Ataxic CP. Kids with this for of CP look very unsteady. Unsteadiness looks like a tremors that you might see in very elderly people, especially when the children are trying to write, turn the pages of a book or build a tower of blocks. They may also have poor balance and may be very shaky when they walk, just like a person who has drunk too much alcohol.
- Dyskinetic CP – The term ‘Dyskinetic’ is used to describe the type of CP where children may have irregular and involuntary movements of different parts of the body (limbs, tongue, face, fingers, etc). Their muscle tone is mixed – sometimes too high and sometimes too low. The term ‘Athetoid’ is also used to describe this type of CP, especially when there are typically slow and writhing movements of the body. These children have trouble holding themselves upright or in a steady position for sitting or walking. Speech difficulties are commonly present too.
- Mixed CP – When different types of CP (e.g. spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic) are present in the same child, we refer to it as ‘Mixed’ CP.
- Children with CP are not able to change their muscle tone in a smooth and even way, so their movement may be jerky or wobbly
- Difficulties in talking and eating are common. CP can affect the way the child moves his/her mouth, face and head. This may cause drooling, difficulties in chewing and swallowing, and also in speech production.
- About 50% children with CP may also have learning problems.
- About half of all children with CP have seizures or fits.
THERAPIES AVAILABLE TO TREAT CP
- Speech and language therapy
- Occupation therapy
- Special Education
- Recreational therapy
With proper treatment, acceptance and opportunities, children with cerebral palsy can improve to a great extent.
For more information check out this great cerebral palsy website called https://www.cerebralpalsyguidance.com