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Cerebral Palsy:

Cerebral Palsy covers a number of disorders that affect control of movement. This is a disease that can affect those in their very early years, and symptoms of cerebral palsy usually manifest before a child reaches the age of three. There are a number of ways in which cerebral palsy can be caused. These include:

Acquired cerebral palsy: This accounts for up to twenty percent of young cerebral palsy sufferers, and is where the disorder is acquired after birth. Causes include but are not limited to brain damage or brain infections very early in life, bacterial meningitis, or head injury.

Congenital cerebral palsy: Congenital cerebral palsy is the more common type of this disorder. It can take months for this form of the disorder to be detected, and damage to motor areas in the brain through a variety of sources can result in this condition. This can happen in a number of ways, including infections or damage caused during pregnancy, labor, or during the delivery of the child. Also, if the infant is jaundiced when born, and the condition is left untreated, the brain can incur damage resulting in cerebral palsy.

There are many signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy, and these usually manifest in the first few years of a child's life. Some of the symptoms that could indicate cerebral palsy include:

  • Lack of head control
  • Poor motor development
  • Delays in walking or crawling
  • Muscle abnormalities signified by stiffness or over-relaxed muscles
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Difficulty writing
  • Involuntary movements or spasms
  • Speech, hearing, or sight problems
  • Bladder control problems
  • Slow development (general)
  • Bowel control problems
  • Seizures

These are just some of the symptoms that could present themselves in the child's early years and could be indicative of cerebral palsy. The signs and symptoms will not always be glaringly obvious, and in many cases will only be subtle to the point where they are not detected for some time. Plus, of course, many of the symptoms above could easily be attributable to a number of other conditions.

The first to notice any abnormal development or any of the other signs of cerebral palsy is usually the parent(s). It is important that parents take the presence of these symptoms seriously and seek medical advice if they suspect that their child could have cerebral palsy. A doctor can diagnose cerebral palsy through developmental testing of the child, and by making comparisons against normal development. The reflexes of the child are also tested, and many cerebral palsy children will favor one hand over the other, which is another sign that doctors will look out for.

Cerebral palsy is not a deteriorative disease, which means that it will not get worse as the child gets older. Therefore, as a cerebral palsy child continues to deteriorate in terms of developmental and motor skills as he or she gets older, it is wise to seek medical attention and look at other possibilities.

The treatment for cerebral palsy can vary depending on the level and severity of the condition. There is a range of physical activity that can help the child to develop physically. For example running and walking can help the muscles and tendons to stretch and keep up with bone growth, as the muscles and tendons in cerebral palsy children often grow at a far slower rate than the bones, which can cause problems. Other types of physical therapy will help children to look after themselves and move around as normally as possible. This can include promoting improvements in sitting, walking, dressing, feedings, and other everyday activities.

Behavioral therapy is also available, and this can help with speech and emotional problems. Therapy and counseling is available as the child grows older and moves into adolescence, ensuring ongoing support and assistance wherever necessary. Depending on the level of cerebral palsy, drug therapy may also be required. For example, a child that suffers seizures through cerebral palsy may need drug therapy. The child's doctor will be able to devise a treatment plan with the parents upon diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

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