Cerebral Palsy affects body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. It can also impact fine motor skills, gross motor skills and oral motor functioning. Injury to the cerebrum can result in the loss of nerve functions in widely different areas. The most common feature in cerebral palsy is spasticity (increased muscle tone), which may affect a single limb, one side of the body (Hemiplegia), both legs (Diplegia) and both arms and legs (quadriplegia). In addition to this, there may be sensory abnormalities such as defects of hearing and vision. Speech difficulties are common and seizures may occur. Cerebral Palsy is not a disease – it is actually a term used to describe a range of conditions that typically cause physical impairment.
Signs of Cerebral Palsy
The most common signs of cerebral palsy are:
- Problems with movement on one side of body
- Stiff muscles
- Exaggerated or jerky reflexes
- Involuntary movements or tremors
- Lack of coordination and balance
- Problems swallowing or sucking
- Difficulty with speech (dysarthria)
- Contractures (shortening of muscles)
- Delayed motor skill development
- Gastrointestinal problems
Early Intervention is always recommended in cases of Cerebral Palsy to bring out positive changes and achieve full potential of the child.
- Assessment and ESP as early as day 1 of a “high risk baby”.
- The brain compensates up to 7-8 years (max before 5 years.
- Even The most severely affected child can be helped positively.
- It is the right of every child to achieve full potential, however severely affected they may be. Most children can be made independent at least for their ADL.
- Therapies- Physio, Occupational, Speech, Play;
- Orthotics- Splints, Braces, Pediwraps etc.
- Oral medications
- Serial casting
- Surgeries- Rhizotomies, tendon releases, SEMILASS etc.
- Special Education
- Adaptive Equipment for easy handling
- Vocational Training
Every case of Cerebral Palsy is unique to the individual
Every case of cerebral palsy is unique to the individual. One person may have total paralysis and require constant care, while another with partial paralysis might have slight movement tremors but require little assistance. This is due in part by the type of injury and the timing of the injury to the developing brain.
Cerebral Palsy is non-life-threatening
With the exception of children born with a severe case, Cerebral Palsy is considered to be a non-life-threatening condition. Most children with Cerebral Palsy are expected to live well into adulthood.
Cerebral Palsy is incurable
Cerebral Palsy is damage to the brain that cannot currently be fixed. Treatment and therapy help manage effects on the body.
Cerebral Palsy is non-progressive
The brain lesion is the result of a one-time brain injury and will not produce further degeneration of the brain.
Cerebral Palsy is permanent
The injury and damage to the brain is permanent. The brain does not “heal” as other parts of the body might. Because of this, the Cerebral Palsy itself will not change for better or worse during a person’s lifetime. On the other hand, associative conditions may improve or worsen over time.
Cerebral Palsy is not contagious; it is not communicable
In the majority of cases, Cerebral Palsy is caused by damage to the developing brain. Brain damage is not spread through human contact. However, a person can intentionally or unintentionally increase the likelihood a child will develop Cerebral Palsy through abuse, accidents, medical malpractice, negligence, or the spread of a bacterial or viral infection.
Cerebral Palsy is manageable
The impairment caused by Cerebral Palsy is manageable. In other words, treatment, therapy, surgery, medications and assistive technology can help maximize independence, reduce barriers, increase inclusion and thus lead to an enhanced quality of life.
Cerebral Palsy is chronic
The effects of Cerebral Palsy are long-term, not temporary. An individual diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy will have the condition for their entire life.
People with cerebral palsy may be extremely bright intellectually, or normal, or have a mental handicap as part of the condition.
It is usually possible to tell if a child has CP by the age of two and sometimes as early as a few months of age.
Few Myths & Realities about Cerebral Palsy
- Dev. Disabilities can be cured by Doctor, specialists, quacks, tantriks, ojhas.
- Resources can be planned for future. eg- Financial.
- Developmental Disabilities are neurological impairments for which there is no cure
- The condition is dynamic & can be managed better using appropriate Management & early intervention.
- Wasting time in searching for a cure will only be a setback in the child’s learning the skills she is capable of.
- Focus should be on making individuals, More independent in activities & becoming contributing member of the family & society.
- “..I have done something wrong that I have to suffer.”
- No one can be blamed. It can be happen to anyone.
- Don’t feel guilty, think positive and move ahead.
- One should accept & look at the child with disability as a child first & provide encouragement as you would any other child.
- It’s best to keep your child at home. Don’t tell anybody about the child. All they need is protection & care.
- There is nothing to be ashamed of the child with disability is like any other person.
- The child needs to learn by communicating with her environment.
- She can’t be just locked up for lifetime.
- “Nothing can be done! This child will be like this all his life.”
- A lot can be done with early intervention, appropriate therapy & skill training.
- Every human being has evolving capacities, the environmental & human experiences help evolve the capacities
- “Poor things, the child with disability is to be pitied. So is the parent!”
- There are many achievers with CP.
- Pity & sympathy don’t help any one
- People can rise to the demands of any situation, when moulded in a positive environment.
- The greatest help is to include them in all areas of life.