Every parent should know the signs of cerebral palsy. Of course, not every child will have the condition. Those who do also cannot be cured of the disorder. Detecting the condition however, could lead to early therapy and treatment. Having the condition treated early can help improve a child’s ability to cope with life’s challenges.
Waiting for Signs
Cerebral palsy signs aren’t the same for every child. This is because there are various types of the disorder. The signs and symptoms also therefore tend to differ. The time when the first visible signs appear also varies per individual. Some infants may show signs in the first few weeks or months of birth. There are others however, who may only show indications of the disorder after a couple of years. Whether the signs appear early or late, one thing is certain, parents are often the first ones to notice them. It is therefore crucial that parents be vigilant and observant.
There are many possible signs of cerebral palsy. The most telling signs however are delays in the natural motor progress of the child. This means that a child with cerebral palsy may not be able to walk, crawl, grasp, sit or smile on the ages which he normally should. Be careful though. Not every delayed child has cerebral palsy. That is why observations of motor abilities are always paired with other diagnostic factors.
In general, there are specific motors skills that develop on certain months after birth. From 3-6 months, a child should gradually be able to gain control of its neck. He will also learn to crawl and sit with some assistance. By the age of 1, a child will begin to stand on his own, walk with some help and grasp objects with his hands. By the age of two, a child should be able to walk by himself, pick toys, pull and push and seat himself.
A child who is unable to accomplish these developmental tasks may be showing signs of cerebral palsy. Add to this the appearance of other possible signs and symptoms such as scissors gait, tremors, drooling, lack of movement coordination and lack of balance.
Aside from developmental clues, a child’s muscle tone should also be checked. A baby with the disorder could have very soft or floppy muscles or very rigid ones. It is possible that babies may initially have floppy muscles that become rigid. If you are not sure about the right feel of infant muscle tone, you have to ask your child’s pediatrician.
Doctors also check reflexes aside from muscle tone. There are certain primitive reflexes that should only be present in infants. Their presence in older babies and children could be signs of cerebral palsy. One common example is the Moro reflex. A baby on its back with the legs tilted up would raise its arms in a seeming embrace. This reflex disappears after six months or so. Those who retain this reflex should be checked further for cerebral palsy.
There is no reason to believe that you should watch for signs of cerebral palsy. Your child may never have the condition at all. It still pays however, to be extra watchful and prepared for any eventualities.