The Causes, Symptoms and Treatments for Cerebral Palsy

The Causes, Symptoms and Treatments for Cerebral Palsy

For anybody who receives a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, the world has now just become a too scarier place. It leads to tons of questions of how and why this happened and what do I do next. Often the damage this disease causes is before birth and can affect the development of the brain. With over 200,000 new cases per year in the United States, this relatively common disorder does not have a cure, unfortunately. Let us at HPFY give you some information to help you deal with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral Palsy

What & Why is Cerebral Palsy?

I’m sure you have heard of cerebral palsy, but do we actually understand what it is? Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects movement, muscle tone, and even your posture. Damage that occurs during the development of an immature brain causes this disorder, mainly before birth. The effects of cerebral palsy often begin during infancy or even preschool years. The symptoms and signs of cerebral palsy can vary from patient to patient. Some examples of symptoms are:

  • Variations of muscle tone ranging from too rigid to too limp
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Spasticity/Rigidness
  • Lack of balance/Muscle coordination
  • Tremors
  • Involuntary movements

These are not all the possible symptoms of cerebral palsy. Motor skill development may be delayed and those with cerebral palsy can have difficulty swallowing or an eye muscle imbalance. Cerebral palsy can also cause mental disabilities. The effect of This disorder on patients can vary. For example, some with cerebral palsy can walk while others require assistance, such as a wheelchair. The cause of cerebral palsy stems from an abnormality/disruption in brain development and in many cases may not be known, but five factors are:

  1. Gene Mutations: This can lead to abnormal development of the brain.
  2. Maternal Infection: Negatively affects the developing fetus.
  3. Fetal Stroke: Strokes disrupt the blood flow to the fetuses developing brain.
  4. Infant Infections: Can cause inflammation in or around the brain.
  5. Oxygen Deficiency: A difficult delivery/birth can lead to oxygen deprivation.

During pregnancy, the risk of cerebral palsy can be increased due to a number of factors. Issues such as measles, herpes, bacterial meningitis, and even viral encephalitis can increase the chance of cerebral palsy.

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Treatments for Cerebral Palsy

Unfortunately, there is no cure for cerebral palsy, so treatments are based on helping manage this condition. Often those who suffer from CP require long-term medical care with a team of doctors that can include a physiatrist, neurologists, and therapists. There can even be a need for mental health specialists in order to treat cerebral palsy properly. Courses of action that your doctor may prescribe can include, but are not be limited to:

  • Medications: These can include injections of onabotulinumtoxinA, such as Botox or Dysport, or oral muscle relaxants (Valium, Zanaflex, Gablofen, etc.). These can be used to lessen muscle tightness and improve functional ability.
  • Therapy: Options for therapy can include everything from physical/occupational therapy to speech and language therapy. These can help with head/trunk control and your child’s ability to speak. Some patients benefit from recreational therapy to improve motor skills, speech, and even emotional well-being.
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Some severe cases of cerebral palsy may require surgery. Orthopedic surgery and dorsal rhizotomy are both procedures that can help with severe physical deformities and muscle spasticity and pain. Physical therapists may recommend medical aids such as braces, crutches, or even wheelchairs after analyzing your child’s condition.

Cerebral palsy is a lifetime battle and can take its toll on a family. It is important to be your child’s advocate so understanding the facts is important. Ask your doctor or therapist anything that comes to mind, there are no stupid questions!! Seek out support groups for not only your own mental well-being but for the wealth of information you may need.


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