main of Those With Cerebral Palsy Struggle With Balance

Those With Cerebral Palsy Struggle With Balance

Cerebral palsy is classified as a grouping of specific disorders impacting posture, muscle tone or movement.

The condition results from damage to an immature brain during development. In most instances, this occurs prior to birth. Symptoms and signs of the disease generally show in infancy or during preschool.

Most people experience abnormal reflexes, abnormal posture, impaired movements, rigid or floppy limbs, unsteady walking, involuntary movement or any combination of the above. The impact on functionality varies between those affected. Some need assistance walking while others do not. Intellect can be normal or disabilities can be present.

Some of the conditions resulting from cerebral palsy can be permanent. This neurological condition is the most common cause of movement and motor disabilities in children. The resulting disabilities can be severe or mild. Unfortunately, at this time there is no cure for cerebral palsy.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

The cause of cerebral palsy is brain damage but the damage can be triggered from a variety of sources. This is the reason it is not always possible to determine the specific cause. Possible causes include:

  • Inadequate brain development
  • Blood flow to the brain is disrupted during the development
  • Skull or head is damaged during delivery
  • Drugs or toxins are ingested while pregnant
  • Genetic or medical conditions
  • Maternal infections
  • Complications due to premature delivery

If medical mistakes are made, there is a possibility cerebral palsy can result from brain damage occurring during childbirth or pregnancy. In some instances, an error is made that is not considered negligence because it was not preventable. The mistakes considered negligence include:

  • Extremely forceful use of either a vacuum extractor or forceps
  • Failing to perform or order a C-section soon enough to prevent brain damage
  • Inadequate treatment during pregnancy of any maternal health condition
  • Baby is deprived of oxygen during birth
  • Not monitoring labor distress or fetal development correctly

Some of the risk factors for this disease have been identified including:

  • Issues with blood clotting
  • Premature birth
  • Placenta is unable to provide the fetus with nutrients and oxygen during development
  • Low birth weight

Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

When cerebral palsy is present, there are a variety of neurological and physical signs and symptoms to be aware of. The symptoms are different for each individual and depend on where the brain damage is located and the severity. The most common physical symptoms include:

  • Drooling
  • Muscle tone changes and becomes floppy
  • Incontinence
  • Spasticity or a stiffening of the muscles
  • Shortening of the muscles or contractures
  • Jerky or exaggerated reflexes
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Tremors or involuntary movements
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Issues with sucking or swallowing
  • Movement issues on only one side

The most common neurological symptoms include:

  • Delayed development of motor skills
  • Hearing or visual impairments
  • Cranial pressure buildup resulting from hydrocephalus or a fluid imbalance
  • Dysarthria or difficulty with language and speech
  • Sensory impairments
  • Behavioral issues

If a child has cerebral palsy, their developmental milestones should be monitored by caregivers or parents and the timelines noted. Many parents do not notice when their baby has developmental delays due to cerebral palsy.

Treating Cerebral Palsy

Although there is no cure, there are treatment options available capable of improving the symptoms of cerebral palsy and resulting in a better quality of life. The majority of interventions can begin as soon as a diagnosis is received. 

A variety of medications are available to help control or reduce seizures, spastic movements, manage related conditions and symptoms and relieve pain. This includes:

  • Muscle relaxants
  • Sleep aids
  • Laxatives and stool softeners
  • Anticonvulsants

There are a variety of therapies used to treat babies and children diagnosed with cerebral palsy to improve learning, social, mental and physical deficits. If these therapies are started early enough, impairment can be reduced and the risk of developing conditions associated with cerebral palsy decreased. The most common therapies used for children include:

  • Occupational
  • Behavioral
  • Aqua
  • Bowl programs
  • Physical
  • Music
  • Language and speech
  • Feeding
  • Animal and horse
  • Play

Many children with cerebral palsy require surgery as an essential part of their treatment. Surgery is performed to manage pain or improve mobility. The most common surgical procedures include:

  • Scoliosis surgery
  • Repairing a dislocated hip
  • Muscle or tendon release