Cerebral palsy affects approximately 800,000 children and adults in the United States.
CP is a chronic condition that affects body movements and muscle coordination. It is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during fetal development, or during infancy.
Cerebral palsy was considered a distinct condition in 1861. Dr. William John Little, published the first paper describing the neurological problems of children with spastic diplegia (also known as cerebral palsy). This is still sometimes called Little’s Disease.
Two children out of every thousand born in America have cerebral palsy. At least 5000 infants and toddlers and about 1,400 preschoolers are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year.
There are 4 types of CP. This next set of tips will discuss these types, and their differences.
Spastic cerebral palsy is characterized by stiff or permanently contracted muscles. 70-80 percent of people with CP have this type.
Athetoid cerebral palsy is characterized by uncontrolled, slow movements. 10-20 percent of people have this type of CP.
Ataxic CP is characterized by a lack of coordination and balance. This type of CP accounts for 10 percent of all cases of CP. Ataxic CP (or any kind of CP) is not degenerative.
Mixed CP is when one person has two or more types of CP. The most common type of mixed CP is Athetoid/Spastic-diplegic or Athetoid/Spastic-hemiplegic.
Diagnosing children with CP at a young age is important. Here are some of the symptoms to look for in a newborn child:
– Lack of alertness
– abnormal cry
– Trembling arms and legs
– Problems sucking and swallowing
– Weak muscle tone
– Favoring one side of the body
– Abnormal reflexes
Abnormal muscle tone is very common in people with cerebral palsy. Even as newborns, their muscles may change from low tone to high tone. They can also go from floppy to very stiff.
If you’re concerned that your child may have CP, look for developmental delays such as:
Understand that it takes time to diagnose cerebral palsy, especially specifying the type of CP. If it’s for a child, his doctor will want to take time to do tests and examine him several times before making the diagnosis.
Age and Race
According to research, the following people have a higher chance of having a child with CP:
-A mother or a father under 20 years old
-A mother over 40 years old
There is a rare circumstance where the mom’s and child’s blood is incompatible. This is called Rh or ABO blood type incompatibility, and it puts you at risk of having a child with cerebral-palsy.
In rare cases, your infant’s central nervous system can be attacked by micro-organisms. This will put him at high risk of developing cerebral palsy.
Unfortunately, there are some cases of cerebral-palsy where the doctor was at fault. There are now a ton of lawyers that are dedicated to bringing these doctors to justice. If you think a doctor was at fault for your child’s CP, you can talk to an attorney.
Here are some of the other risk factors associated with CP:
-Bleeding in the brain
-Lack of oxygen