Cerebral palsy (CP) is the name given to a collection of movement disorders. Movement disorders are conditions in which a person's muscles do not respond normally. CP is also known as static encephalopathy (pronounced in-seh-fuh-LAH-puh-thee). It is caused by brain damage that occurs before, during, or just after birth. A person with CP is often also affected by other conditions caused by brain damage.
If a person is affected by CP his or her muscles may become either rigid or very loose. Sometimes an individual may lose control of his or her muscles, resulting in problems with balance and coordination. The condition may affect the legs only, which is called paraplegia (pronounced par-uh-PLEE-jee-uh) or diplegia (pronounced die-PLEE-juh); the arm and leg on one side of the body, which is known as hemiplegia (pronounced hem-i-PLEE-juh); or all four limbs, called quadriplegia (pronounced kwod-ruh-PLEE-jee-uh).
Other problems experienced by someone with CP include visual or hearing problems, mental retardation (see mental retardation entry), learning disabilities (see learning disorders entry), and attention deficit disorder (ADD). Some CP patients experience no problems beyond their movement disorder.
CP affects about 500,000 children and adults in the United States. About 6,000 new cases are diagnosed in newborns and young children each year. CP is not a genetic disorder, and there is currently no way of predicting which children will develop it. CP is not a disease and is not communicable, which means it cannot be passed from one person to another.
CP is a nonprogressive disorder. That is, it does not become better or worse over time. However, some conditions may appear to become worse. For example, when muscles are rigid for a long period, arms and legs may become deformed. In such cases, additional treatments may be necessary.
- is caused by damage to brain cells that control the movement of muscles. When those cells die, signals can no longer be sent to muscle cells. This loss of muscle control results in the symptoms of CP.
Factors can cause brain cell damage:
- lack of oxygen (asphyxia, pronounced az-FIK-see-uh),
- infection example: rubella ,toxoplasmosis (a blood infection), toxoplasmosis (a blood infection)
- trauma (shock),
- malnutrition (poor diet),
- drugs or other chemicals, or
- hemorrhage (bursting of blood vessels).
- In most cases, it is impossible to discover the exact cause for any one person's CP.
- Premature birth is regarded as one important and common factor.
Most researchers now believe that brain cell damage occurs before birth. This damage is also responsible for other conditions that tend to occur along with CP.
Symptoms : usually not noticeable at birth. Instead, they begin to show up during the first eighteen months of a child's life.
Normal children pass through a series of developmental stages. At each stage, they learn how to perform one or more common tasks. Infants with CP have difficulty performing these tasks. Such difficulties may indicate that an infant has CP.
The tasks considered to be milestones in normal development include the following:
- Babbles (6 to 8 months)
- Sits well with support (8 to 10 months)
- Crawls (9 to 12 months)
- Walks alone (12 to 15 months)
- Uses one or two words other than dada and mama (12 to 15 months)
- Eats with fingers; holds bottle (12 to 18 months)
- Turns pages in books; removes shoes and socks (24 to 30 months)
- Walks up and down steps (24 to 36 months)
Because children develop at different rates, using these milestones to diagnose cerebral palsy (or any other disorder) must be used with great caution. The fact that an otherwise healthy child does not reach one of these milestones at the suggested age is not necessarily a sign that the child has CP. He or she may just be developing at a slower rate. In addition, problems with vision or hearing may cause such delays.
Five forms of cerebral palsy are recognized. They are defined according to the kind of muscle damage and the location of that damage:
- Spastic: Muscles are rigid (tight), posture may be abnormal, and the ability to do delicate work is impaired.
- Athetoid: Muscular movements are slow, twisting, and involuntary (beyond the person's control).
- Hypotonic: Muscles are floppy, without firmness.
- Ataxic: Balance and coordination are impaired.
- Dystonic: Any combination of the above symptoms.
- Cerebral palsy is also described according to the parts of the body affected:
- Hemiplegia: One arm and one leg on the same side of the body are involved.
- Diplegia: Both legs are involved; in addition, one or both arms may also be involved.
- Quadriplegia: Both arms and both legs are involved.
Cerebral palsy cannot be cured. However, the physical and other problems it causes can usually be managed through planning and timely care. Treatment plans depend on the type of impairment as well as associated problems the child may have, such as learning disabilities. Many CP patients require the help of physical and occupational therapists only. These professionals help the child learn to deal with loss of muscle control. Other specialists, such as speech-language therapists, special education teachers, nutritionists, and neurosurgeons (nerve specialists) may be needed to help with problems related to CP.
The above article is taken from this site.