what is cerebral palsy

What Is Cerebral Palsy? Recognizing And Treating Patients

The onset of cerebral palsy starts at birth or during the first few years of life for a patient. Issues such as birthing complications, improper brain development and health issues during pregnancy can cause the disorder and will cause complications for the duration of the patient’s life.

While the symptoms of cerebral palsy can improve over time, some patients may actually see a degradation in their abilities as they get older. Caring for a patient that has cerebral palsy requires special treatment and a thorough understanding of the disorder.

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects a patient’s muscles and body movement. Because the brain wasn’t able to fully develop, it doesn’t have the capacity to provide a full range of motion. This can allow for stiff or floppy limbs and can also impact eye movement and the ability to focus properly.

Not all patients are affected by cerebral palsy in the same way. Some have very mild cases of the disorder and are able to live very normal lives. Others are affected more severely and don’t have the ability to walk, position themselves or move around.

A patient with cerebral palsy may favor one side of their body over another, or they may have a limb that lays limp at all times. Patients with cerebral palsy can also have blindness, deafness or epilepsy, depending on the severity of their condition.

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Symptoms Of Cerebral Palsy

The symptoms of cerebral palsy vary with each patient’s case. Some patients may display many symptoms of cerebral palsy while others have undetectable signs of the disorder. This is often why some cerebral palsy patients are able to walk while other are confined to a wheelchair or walker.

The brain development in a patient with cerebral palsy doesn’t change as they mature with age. The mutation is with that person for their entire life, and through the treatment of the disorder, muscle movement can improve and become less rigid.

While each patient with cerebral palsy is a unique case, the symptoms that they present can vary from person to person. Some of the symptoms of cerebral palsy include:

  • Muscle movement that is stiff or rigid
  • Muscle spasms in the limbs
  • Inability to coordinate muscle movement
  • Developmental delays
  • Inability to walk, crawl, stand or sit
  • Drooling
  • Issues with swallowing, eating, and drinking
  • Speech development issues
  • Seizures

Treatment For Cerebral Palsy

The treatment for cerebral palsy requires a specialized team of professionals to develop a care program for the patient. Together, this team works to create the right course of action for the patient that is specific to their needs and abilities.

Some doctors prescribe medication as an option to reduce rigidity in the muscles and limbs to make the patient more comfortable. If stiff muscles become an issue for a patient, a doctor can perform surgery on the muscle to help loosen their tightness by cutting the nerves. This allows for the reduction of pain in some patients but can create numbness as a side effect.

A cerebral palsy patient will also be highly involved in physical therapy to help build flexibility and strength. This can also help with muscle rigidity and improve motor skills in some patients. Additional support for the treatment for cerebral palsy includes having speech therapy to help increase a patient’s communication level. This can be an ongoing treatment for a patient as they will continually work on improving their speech and motor skills to be able to live productive, independent lives.

There are some alternative medications that some patients are incorporating into their treatment plan. These alternatives are new and not much is known about their effectiveness.

Treatment and care for a cerebral palsy patient are imperative to their well being and health. A treatment plan should be prescribed by a patient’s team of doctors and adhered to by the caregivers in their life. Keeping up with therapy and medications can help alleviate some of the symptoms that a cerebral palsy patient has before additional precautions such as surgery are necessary.

Sources:

[I] https://www.cerebralpalsy.org.au/what-is-cerebral-palsy/
[II] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cerebral-palsy/symptoms-causes/dxc-20236552