What is Cerebral Palsy? A Look Into the Classifications, Symptoms and Causes

Defining cerebral palsy is rather complicated because it is just an umbrella term that covers a set of conditions that are both non-progressive and non-contagious, which cause disability in physical development. It is not a single disorder, as many people would have believed, but rather a group of disorders. The term “cerebral” refers to the part in the brain which is affected, the cerebrum. The term “palsy” refers to movement disorder.

4 Major Classifications:

  1. Spastic – occurs in 70 to 80 percent of all cases;
  2. Ataxic – occurs in about 10 percent;
  3. Athetoid or Dyskinetic – occurs in 40 percent of all cases; and,
  4. Mixed – combines 2 or all 3 types of cerebral palsy.

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

– abnormal muscle tone (stiff or floppy) – bad posture (always slouches when sitting) – deformities in joint and bone (fixed or tight muscles and joints) – spasms (involuntary movement or facial gestures) – scissor walking (knocked knees) – lack of balance (uneven gait)

In severe cases of cerebral palsy, babies have an irregular posture, with their small bodies may be either floppy or stiff.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

The causes are still a puzzle to doctors, even on this age of advanced medical technology. But some early studies have established that it can possibly occur during these 3 stages: at some stage in pregnancy (about 75 percent), while giving birth (about 5 percent), and after the child is born up to age of about three years old (about 15 percent).

In the United States, 1 to 2 babies in every 1,000 births are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year. The nature of extent ranges from mild to severe.

Causes before birth: – asphyxia (oxygen deficiency before and during birth) – hypoxia (caused by asphyxia) – trauma while giving birth – premature birth – mother had infections during pregnancy – multiple birth (twins or triplets)

Causes after birth: – infections in the central nervous system (due to physical brain injury) – jaundice (characterized by yellowing of skin) – toxins (i.e. lead poisoning) – encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) – meningitis (inflammation of parts of brain and spinal cord) – hypoxia (caused by asphyxia during drowning accidents)

Causes of asphyxia in young children: choking, poisoning, and near drowning.

Learning the causes may help prevent its occurrence. Practice utmost care and protection during gestation, during birth, and during the early years after birth.

Cerebral palsy in most cases is not preventable. When the occurrence is due to negligence during medical care or inadequacy of medical attention, it is potential preventable by observing safety measures and standards of care.. To discuss whether medical malpractice could be a factor in your child’s case, contact an experience lawyer to discover your options.

Many cases of cerebral palsy undergo early medical evaluation to determine early diagnosis. To diagnose, a doctor will check the muscle tone, reflexes, and movement; then undergo the patient to a MRI scan, a CT scan, and other various medical tests.

After a positive diagnosis of this disorder, the child patient may be referred to a specialist for further examinations to find out if early treatment can provide improvement and help the condition of the patient.