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Cerebral Palsy: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder which affects the musculature of body, resulting in uncoordinated muscle movements and difficulty in maintaining body posture. Cerebral palsy may be present since birth or acquired a few months after birth and its clinical signs generally appear before the age of three years.

Cerebral palsy: Incidence, age and sex

Cerebral palsy is an infrequent neurological disorder which affects children, mainly infants. No gender bias has yet been documented.

Signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy: Diagnosis

The clinical features of cerebral palsy may appear during the first year of life or at the most by three years of age. This disorder is characterised by lack of muscle coordination coupled with stiffness of the muscles which is usually evident by delayed milestones in the affected child. Individuals with cerebral palsy have a typical scissored gait with dragging of one foot. Some individuals may walk on toes. Other features include difficulty in performing tasks like writing or craft work which involve fine motor coordination and speech problems. In severe cases, learning difficulties or impairment of mental faculties may be encountered. Cerebral palsy is not a hereditary disease and does not pass on from generation to generation. It is a clinical diagnosis and does not need any investigations for confirmation.

Causes and prevention of cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is usually present since birth or is acquired in the early months of life by brain damage in instances of head trauma. It may also develop after brain infections like encephalitis or meningitis. Such instances may damage the part of the brain which controls the movements of muscles.

Cerebral palsy: Complications

Complications like learning disabilities, dental caries, seizures and gastro-intestinal functions may be seen in individuals with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy: Treatment

Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disease which has no cure. The treatment modalities include occupational therapy, medications, physical therapy, orthotic treatment or surgery, all of which may help in improving the quality of life. The specialist may prescribe some medicines to relax the stiff muscles and control fits. In occasional cases, surgical intervention may be needed to release tight muscles and improve its movement. Orthotic devices, walkers or wheelchairs may be needed in some individuals who are unable to walk properly. Affected children require special schools for learning since they may have learning disabilities. The entire treatment plan is designed to improve the capability and overcome developmental shortcomings in affected children and help them lead a fulfilling and independent life.