Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is defined as “a form of paralysis believed to be caused by a prenatal brain defect orby brain injury during birth, most marked in certain motor areas andcharacterized by difficulty in control of the voluntary muscles.” (dictionary.com). If you don’t understand what that means don’t worry I am going to break it all down. 

Cerebral Palsy or CP is a very broad medical term used to refer a disease that effect the control of movement, caused by an intracranial hemorrhage or injury to the brain while it is still developing, this can happen before or during birth. If damage or injury occurs to the brain while a child is still within the mother’s womb it is considered to be congenital cerebral palsy (congenital means it is present at birth). A child may also get Cerebral Palsy from damage to the brain either during the birth or short after.

The exact cause of congenital CP is unknown but doctors believe it may be caused by a several number of things including; infection during pregnancy, severe jaundice or lack of bilirubin within the blood, Rh incompatibility between mother and child (The mothers blood cells will attach the fetuses while in utero), trauma of birth (physical or metabolic), and severe lack of oxygen to the brain or damage to the brain during labor or after.

Up to ten percent of Cerebral Palsy cases are acquired or developed within the first few months after birth. Some risk that may lead to CP are: respiratory or vascular complications at birth, birth defects (such as spinal cord formation, hernias near or around the groin, or a small jaw bone), Breech births, low Apgar score, being a twin or multiple, low birth weight, seizers short after birth, infection of the brain, or other complications.

If you can’t tell there are a lot of different risk that can cause CP. That is because 10,000 infants are diagnoses with Cerebral Palsy each year and it is estimated that 1,500 pre-school age children are diagnosed each year.

Cerebral Palsy doesn’t fully develop or show full symptoms until a child is between two-three years of age. It is a non-progressive brain disorder, meaning that the damage done to the brain will not get any better or worse throughout the child’s life. Each case is different and the symptoms are just as different as the case. The symptoms due to the brain damage can change over time, either for better or worse, but a doctor can never truly predict how the symptoms will change and develop. CP is stated as being on of the leading causes of childhood disability.

The term Cerebral Palsy is a broad term in the sense that it can affect each person differently, and each case is special and unique in its own way. CP affects the development, movement, and function or muscles and nervous system. This can lead to involuntary movement, lack of movement, lack of muscle coordination when trying to perform a task, stiff or tight muscles, using one leg to walk or more dependent on one leg, and slow reactions. Like I said before, each case is special and unique. One child with CP may be completely dependent on parents and care takers for the rest of its life, while others just may need special aid for specific task. It is all relative to the child, case, and prognosis of CP. Depending on the case Doctors and care takers can help in easing some of the symptoms or side effects of CP. Many times children that  are diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy will have occupational and physical therapist.

Hope this helped in understanding what Cerebral Palsy is!

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