What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that impairs a child’s ability to develop normally. It affects muscle movement, muscle tone, coordination and motor skills.
What are the common signs which are easy to identify?
- Delays in reaching motor skill milestones, such as rolling over, sitting up alone, or crawling
- Variations in muscle tone, such as being too floppy or too stiff
- Stiff muscles and tight joints
- Lack of muscle coordination
- Tremors or involuntary movements
- Excessive drooling and problems with swallowing
- Difficulty walking
- Clenched fists which are difficult to open
- Neurological problems, such as seizures, intellectual disabilities, and blindness
What causes cerebral palsy?
Abnormal brain development or injury to the brain leads to cerebral palsy. In majority of cases cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain while the baby is in the uterus, during labor or delivery or shortly after birth. Some of the possible causes include:
- Asphyxia neonatorum or a lack of oxygen to the brain during labor and delivery
- Gene mutations that result in abnormal brain development
- Severe jaundice in the infant
- Brain infections, such as encephalitis and meningitis
- Intracranial hemorrhage or bleeding into the brain
- Head injuries as a result of a car accident, a fall, or child abuse
Is cerebral palsy a disease?
No, cerebral palsy is not a disease. In fact, it is a neurological condition which affects movement and muscle control.
Do different children present differently? What are the types of Cerebral Palsy?
- Spastic cerebral palsy:
- Spastic cerebral palsy is the most widely affected cerebral palsy. Specific symptoms and characteristics of this type of cerebral palsy include failure to reach milestones in walking, crawling, and sitting up, abnormal movement and stiff muscles.
- Spastic quadriplegia: This type of cerebralpalsy affects a child’s entire body, putting them at risk of limb deformities.
- Spastic diplegia: This is not as severe as quadriplegia as children are still able to walk. However, they tend to walk on their toes, leading to balance and coordination issues.
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy:
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is also known as dystonic cerebral palsy and athetoid cerebral palsy. It is the second most common cerebral palsy after spastic cerebral palsy. Symptoms of dyskinetic cerebral palsy include Repetitive, twisting motions (dystonia), Slow, writhing movements (athetosis), Unpredictable, irregular movements (chorea) and Awkward posture
- Ataxic cerebral palsy:
- Ataxic cerebral palsy is named after the word ataxia,which means “without order”.Typical characteristics include poor balance and coordination, tremors and shaky movements that are hard to control.
- Mixed cerebral palsy:
- Mixed cerebral palsy is a combination of two or more types of cerebral palsies.
What is the treatment of Cerebral Palsy at Plexus Neuro Center?
The treatment completely depends upon the type and severity of the disorder. We at Plexus, believe in incorporating an all-inclusive treatment approach towards tackling the disorder. The aim is to maximise the individual’s independence in daily activities and improve the quality of life. The treatment at Plexus consists of an intensive rehabilitation program. This includes occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy and language therapy as the major domains of treatment.
- Individuals with CP face major challenges in performing their daily living activities. Their participation in activities is severely compromised at home, school, work or in the community, ultimately affecting their quality of life. Occupational therapists focus at assisting these individuals improve their functioning at home, school or community.
- Occupational therapists focus on achieving the developmental milestones through various techniques.
- Use of reflex integration therapy is a major treatment approach used by occupational therapists.
- Hand functions are affected in these individuals hindering their ability to feed themselves, bathe, dress, write etc. Occupational therapists use various techniques to improve hand functions.
- Occupational therapists at Plexus customize splints for children with CP. These splints are corrective in nature which help to correct poor limb attitude, relieve tightness and contracture and reduce the influence of reflexes that interfere with daily functioning.
- Apart from corrective splints, functional splints and adaptive devices are provided that help carry out daily activities with the available strength and coordination. Examples of splints and adapted devices used in CP include – resting hand splint, wrist cock-up splint, knee gutter splint, elbow gutter splint, adapted pen, adapted cup, straw holder, plate guard, adapted spoon.
- CP is often accompanied by cognitive impairment that affects the attention, basic understanding and executive functions. This poses major difficulties in performing simple and complex daily living activities. Occupational therapists at Plexus perform a detailed cognitive assessment and a tailor made treatment approach is implemented based on the deficits and existing cognitive abilities.
- Contractures are one of the common aspect observed in an individual with CP. Physiotherapists at Plexus mainly focus on stretching and flexibility exercises to ease this aspect. They improve the range of motion of the joints, increase the strength and conditioning of the affected muscles and improve coordination.
- Postural training is an important treatment aspect in physiotherapy. Due to severe contractures, the entire posture of the individual gets affected causing debilitating effects on the individual. Physiotherapists use various modalities to help in reducing pain caused by various symptoms in CP.
- Endurance training forms another important treatment method in physiotherapy. Majorly, the goal in physiotherapy is to train the individual with CP in walking independently or with the use of walking aids.
- The entire treatment focus is on improving the standing and walking balance using various techniques.
Speech and Language Therapy
- Individuals with CP may severe deficits in their oral structures causing swallowing and speech difficulties. Speech therapists at Plexus use various techniques to enhance the oral-motor function and facilitate communication. Various swallowing exercises are taught to improve chewing, eating and drinking.
- Articulation therapy forms an integral part of the treatment process, wherein the individuals are shown how the mouth and tongue work together to produce sounds, words. Various jaw, lip, tongues exercises are taught to strengthen the oral musculature. Blowing and breathing exercises help the individuals with CP in controlling their breathing.
What if my child exhibits cerebral palsy symptoms?
In the unlikely event, if you notice obvious symptoms of cerebral palsy in your child, book an appointment with us!
During appointment you should brief to the doctor as to the signs and symptoms that you have observed in the child. We shall formulate a detailed treatment plan based on the child’s assessment and help your child recover to the maximum possible.
Child with Cerebral Palsy starts walking…
Childs’s first steps are a moment of exhilaration for the parents. The joy they feel when the child comes running to them only to crash into their unconditionally loving arms cannot be explained. But joy is an understatement when it comes to the first independently taken steps of a 1 year old child from Chennai affectionately known as Mani. After undergoing a comprehensive treatment at Plexus, Mani, diagnosed at birth with Cerebral Palsy took her first steps this month. According to the mother, Dr. Puneeta, this is a leap of faith for her and her family. She expresses, “I can’t put into words how and what we all are feeling. We found the right place, at the right time and the right doctor – Dr. Na’eemSadiq. Thanks is a small word and it cannot fit the enormity of this moment for us. We thank the entire team of Plexus for bringing about this miraculous change in my child.”