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What Do You Need to Know About Cerebral Palsy?

By Dr. Nargesh Agarwal in Paediatric (Ped) Orthopaedics

Feb 13 , 2018 | 3 min read

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder caused due to static ischemic brain injury. Hypoxia during the birth process or after birth can cause brain damage and cause cerebral palsy. Depending on the area of the brain involved due to ischemia symptoms of cerebral Palsy manifest and results in abnormal movement of various body parts of a child. Cerebral Palsy can be any of the four different types – spastic (most common), ataxic, athetoid / dyskinetic, and mixed. Despite being a non-progressive neurological disorder, Cerebral Palsy affects a child’s motor function and muscle movement. About 70% of children suffer from spastic cerebral palsy caused due to the damage to the brain’s motor corex. Early diagnosis and timely intervention can give better results.

What causes it?

Brain injury due to hypoxia causes cerebral palsy, which can further be caused due to several reasons like birth trauma, Meconium aspiration and increase bilirubin levels. In addition, prematurity, genetic disorders like enzyme deficiency and intrauterine infections are other risk factors that can cause cerebral palsy.

Know its Symptoms

The symptoms of Cerebral Palsy differ from child to child based on the severity of the brain damage. It may affect one limb (monoplegic), Bilateral lower limb and one upper limb (Diplegic), half of the body (Hemiplegic), all four limbs (Quadriplegic), all limbs trunk and head (Total body involvement). The common symptoms of Cerebral Palsy are:

  • Muscles weakness
  • Spasticity
  • Difficulty in moving the joints
  • Lack of muscle balance and coordination

Other problems like squint, difficulty in speech, the problem in sucking/swallowing, drooling of saliva, delay in motor development, and gastrointestinal problems can also occur. Developmental delay in all milestones like neck holding, sitting, standing, walking etc are other symptoms that can occur.

Is there any diagnosis available?

Parents first notice this problem when there is a delay in milestones like neck holding and sitting. A detailed history of prematurity, birth trauma, meconium aspiration, low APGAR score, history of resuscitation after birth, jaundice, pneumonia etc. gives an idea about the cause of cerebral palsy. In older child clinical examination to check spasticity, reflexes confirm the diagnosis. Cranial ultrasound, MRI is a diagnostic tool to examine area involved in the brain.

What should be the treatment?

Treatment of cerebral palsy involves multispecialty like a developmental paediatrician, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, eye care, psychologist, dietician, an orthopaedic surgeon and orthotist. A combined approach gives better results. The child must be treated without any delay. Treatment of Cerebral Palsy primarily focuses on making the child self-sufficient and helping him to live independently. An orthopaedic surgeon always combines traditional therapy, medication, and surgery to improve the child’s motor functionalities.

Are the results effective?

Early the treatment better is the result. Treatment should be started from the very first year of life. The recovery period of Cerebral Palsy differs according to the severity of symptoms and treatment. The therapists help the child to live independently and improve his quality of life. The combination of medication, surgery and braces further improves the child’s motor functions.

Quick FAQs on Cerebral Palsy

Q: - Is this 100 % correctible?? Will my child be walking??

A: - No, It’s an irreversible static damage of the brain. What we treat is after effect of brain injury. The aim of the treatment always focuses on to make child independent and ambulatory. Results broadly depend on how early we start the treatment and how much is the damage in the brain.

Q: - What is Botox? What type of surgeries we do in this??

A: - Botox is a miracle for cerebral palsy. It gives temporary relaxation to spasticity and postpones the surgery. In surgery soft tissue release and the bony procedure is needed according to age and requirement of the patient.