Cerebral palsy is a term that is used to refer to a few different neurological conditions that can have quite a severe impact on the brain and the nervous system. This condition is something that can affect a child’s overall development and damage to the brain can occur either before, during or even after birth.
The Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
The symptoms of this condition vary from person to person and will depend greatly on what type of condition the child suffers from. Some of the more common symptoms of the condition include:
- Hearing Difficulties
- Visual Difficulties
- Learning problems
- Speaking Difficulties, among many others
While there might be signs and symptoms that a child is struggling from this condition during the first few months of life, the signs tend to become much more apparent once they reach about 3 years of age. During this time, they might start to display signs of difficulty talking or a failure to meet with a variety of developmental goals; this could prevent them from learning to crawl, speak or even walk.
Muscle tone is another major issue for children struggling with this problem, and they tend to either show signs of hypertonia or hypotonia. The former makes the child appear as if they are rigid or stiff due to an increased muscle tone, while the latter makes them appear floppy due to a decreased muscle tone. In some instances, children experience hypotonia which eventually leads to hypertonia as they age.
The Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Doctors once thought that the brain to the brain that underlies this condition was caused by the brain being deprived of oxygen for a space of time, but research has suggested that this isn’t the case with all children. In many instances, the damage to the brain occurred while the fetus was still in the womb. During the first six months, as the fetus develops, the brain is very sensitive and any damage could end up causing problems for years to come. These days, doctors believe that the brain damage might be a result of three things; periventricular leukomalacia, abnormal development and intracranial hemorrhage.
Firstly, periventricular leukomalacia is something that occurs when the white matter within the brain is damaged. This area of the brain is responsible for thought processing and it is possible that a reduced flow of blood could end up damaging it. Abnormal brain development can be caused by a wide range of factors, including mutations, trauma and infections. Lastly, intracranial hemorrhaging occurs most commonly when a baby has a stroke, something that can be caused by high blood pressure in a mother, infection or some sort of pre-existing weakness within the blood vessels of the body.
Testing For Cerebral Palsy
In order to diagnose this condition, a professional will need to carry out a few different tests, including blood tests, MRI scans, CT scans and possibly even a cranial ultrasound. It is common for this condition to be diagnosed when the child is around two or three years of age, depending on the type of condition that they are struggling with.
Treating Cerebral Palsy
One thing that parents should be aware of is that this condition isn’t a progressive one, which means that the child’s condition should remain relatively stable throughout their lives. Since the condition can affect just about every facet of the child’s life, however, it is important for them to receive a comprehensive treatment plan that includes assistance from professionals such as pediatricians, social workers, health visitors, incontinence advisors, physiotherapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists, among others.
Since each child is different, each treatment plan needs to be uniquely designed to suit a child’s needs. For more information on this subject, please visit www.scope.org.uk.