Cerebral palsy is a condition that involves a group of disorders affecting the body movement, balance and posture. It is caused by abnormal development or damage in some parts of the brain that is responsible for muscle tone and motor activity. Cerebral palsy usually occurs in infancy or early childhood which results in slower growth rate than a normal child. This also means that they will be slow to reach developmental stages like sitting, crawling, walking or rolling over.
A person with CP will find it difficult to control and coordinate their muscles. Besides, it even makes small and simple movements difficult; this includes postures too. With poor muscle tone that results in uncontrolled movements, problems in walking, speech, swallowing, balance, coordination and other functions will arise. Sometimes, skeletal deformities, eating difficulties, digestive problems, hearing and vision problems, dental problems, seizures and bowel control problems can occur. There are chances of mental retardation too. However, the severity of the problems differs from person to person and magnitude can get better or worse over time.
CP is the result of injuries or damage to the brain. The most important cause for this is because of damage that would have occurred early in pregnancy. Usually, the condition is caused when the child is still in the womb and brain is starting to form or during the birth process when the child passes through the birth canal. It can occur in the first few years of the child’s life too. Many times, the cause itself is unknown!
Among the many problems that occur during birth, inadequate oxygen is the main culprit for CP! Around 10% of the cases for cerebral palsy begin during birth (perinatal). About 70-80% of the cases begin before birth (prenatal) and in some cases begin after birth (postnatal). Hence, most cases of cerebral palsy are the result of a combination of prenatal, perinatal and postnatal factors.
There are many risk factors involved with the cerebral palsy condition and includes seizure disorder, thyroid disorder and medical problems in the mother of the child. Birth defects in the spinal cord, head, face and lungs can also be linked with this condition. Rh factor incompatibility, hereditary and genetic conditions and complications during labor and delivery can also increase the risk of cerebral palsy. Usually, children having premature birth run a higher risk of suffering this condition. After birth, low birth weight, severe jaundice and lack of oxygen can be causes of cerebral palsy. Infections such as meningitis and head injuries or bleeding will also cause cerebral palsy.
Depending on the causes and symptoms, different treatments can be given. The therapies will be based on the condition of the child. However, cerebral palsy exercises remain to be the best treatment that can be given to help the child become independent. Besides, it increases the muscle tone which is the main cause for this condition.