- 1 WHAT IS CEREBRAL PALSY?
- 2 SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CEREBRAL PALSY
- 3 TYPES OF CEREBRAL PALSY?
- 4 CAUSES OF CEREBRAL PALSY
- 5 OTHER CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH CEREBRAL PALSY
- 6 HOW IS CEREBRAL PALSY DIAGNOSED?
- 7 WHAT IS THE RISK FACTOR?
- 8 HOW IS CEREBRAL PALSY TREATED?
- 9 CAN CEREBRAL PALSY BE PREVENTED?
Many people especially in Sub Saharan Africa particularly in some parts of Nigeria still believe the myth that cerebral palsy is as a result of rituals being done on children or a result of the sins of parent. But the fact still remains that cerebral palsy is a medical condition and not a spiritual attack, sin or any kind of ritual occurrence.
More awareness needs to be put in place to educate people more on the true cause of cerebral palsy
WHAT IS CEREBRAL PALSY?
Cerebral palsy is a physical disability in early childhood that affects movement and posture.
The word cerebral refers to the brain; palsy refers to the loss or impairment of motor function.
Cerebral palsy was first described by William James little in the 1840s and it is regarded as one of the three most common life-long developmental disabilities, after autism and mental retardation.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CEREBRAL PALSY
There are many types of cerebral palsy hence, the signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy vary among people and may include
Lack of muscle coordination when performing voluntary movements
Stiff or tight muscles and exaggerated reflexes
Weakness in arm or leg
Variations in muscle tone (either too stiff or too floppy)
Excessive drooling or difficulties swallowing or speaking
Shaking or random involuntary movements
Delays in reaching motor skill milestones
Difficulty with precise movements which involve writing or buttoning a shirt.
TYPES OF CEREBRAL PALSY?
Cerebral palsy is usually classified according to the type of movement disorder involved and this includes the following:
Spasticity(Stiff muscles): this types of cerebral palsy affects about 80% of people with cerebral palsy and affects different parts of the body.
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy: A person with this kind of cerebral palsy may have trouble controlling their muscles and may have stiff, jerky movements of their hands ,arms, legs and feet.
Ataxic cerebral palsy(poor balance and control): This type of cerebral palsy may Cause unsteady walking or a hard time controlling hand movements to write or reach for an object.
Mixed types cerebral palsy: some people may have more than one type of cerebral palsy.
CAUSES OF CEREBRAL PALSY
Cerebral palsy is caused by an abnormal development of the brain or the damage of the developing brain that affects a child’s ability to control his or her muscles.
OTHER CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH CEREBRAL PALSY
Other conditions associated with cerebral palsy may include Intellectual disability, Seizure disorder, Delayed growth and development, Spinal deformities and osteoarthritis,. Impaired vision,. Hearing loss, Speech and language disorders, Drooling, Learning difficulties, Malnutrition, e.t.c
HOW IS CEREBRAL PALSY DIAGNOSED?
Cerebral palsy is diagnosed during the first 2 years of life. But if the symptoms are mild, a reliable diagnosis could be difficult before the age of 4 or 5.
Doctors will order a series of tests to evaluate the child’s motor skills. During patient regular visits, the doctor will monitor the child’s development, muscle tone, growth, age-appropriate motor control, hearing and vision, posture, and coordination, in order to rule out other possible disorders that could cause similar symptoms. Although the symptoms may change over time, Cerebral Palsy is not progressive. If a child is continuously losing his or her motor skills, the problem may likely be a condition other than Cerebral Palsy; such as a genetic or muscle disease, metabolism disorder, or tumors in the nervous system.
Laboratory tests can be used to identify other conditions that may cause symptoms similar to those associated with Cerebral Palsy.
WHAT IS THE RISK FACTOR?
Some medical conditions or event during pregnancy and delivery may increase a baby’s chance of being born with cerebral palsy and these risks may include multiple birth, infections during pregnancy, mothers who have been exposed to toxic substances during pregnancy, such as methyl mercury, are at a heightened risk of having a baby with cerebral palsy, blood incompatibility between mother and child, low birth weight and premature birth.
HOW IS CEREBRAL PALSY TREATED?
Currently there is no cure for cerebral palsy, but available treatment can improve the lives of those who have the condition. Many children go on to enjoy near-normal adulthood if their disabilities are properly managed and cared for. In conclusion, the earlier the treatment begin, the better chance children have of overcoming developmental disabilities or learning new ways to accomplish the tasks that challenge them.
Physical therapy, Occupational therapy, Recreation therapy, Speech and language therapy can be used by medical professional to help children with cerebral.
Other forms of care/treatment for cerebral palsy may include Drug Treatments, Surgery, Assistive devices, Complementary and Alternative Therapies.
CAN CEREBRAL PALSY BE PREVENTED?
Most cases of cerebral palsy cannot be prevented, but you can lessen the risks of cerebral palsy. For a pregnant woman or a woman planning to become pregnant the steps below can help you stay healthy and minimize pregnancy complications:
Make sure you are vaccinated. Getting vaccinated against diseases such as rubella, preferably before getting pregnant, might prevent an infection that could cause fetal brain damage.
Take care of yourself. The healthier you are heading into a pregnancy, the less likely you will be to develop an infection that could results in cerebral palsy.
Seek early and continuous prenatal care. Visits to your doctor regular during your pregnancy are a good way to reduce health risks to you and your unborn baby.
Practice good child safety. Preventing head injuries by providing your child with a car seat, bicycle helmet, safety rails on beds and appropriate supervision.
Avoid alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs. These have been linked to cerebral palsy risk.
Samuel Aluh received his Bachelor of Science degree from Osun State University Osogbo Osun State (UNIOSUN). He is presently undergoing a postgraduate study in Public health and Parasitology at the University of Nigeria. He also has professional certification in project management as well as in health safety and environment.
He is a young, vibrant and intelligent individual with a great passion for public health, Neglected Tropical Disease (NTDs) and infectious disease.