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What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is generally a term that refers to a group of long-term or permanent disorders, which appear immediately during the first several years of a child’s life. It is a condition that hampers and affects the affected child’s ability to appropriately coordinate normal body movements. This happens because the muscles tend to be weaker, floppy, stiff, and rigid.

In the United States and across continental Europe, it is estimated that cerebral palsy is occurring in two to four newly born babies out of 1,000. All around the globe, the inborn condition is affecting thousands of infants annually. An analysis of the etymology of the word would lead one to easily infer that cerebral palsy is affecting the brain in general. The word ‘cerebral’ is referring to cerebrum, the affected brain area, while ‘palsy’ connotes movement disorder.

Many studies have tried to explain the root cause of the condition. It was initially found that cerebral palsy is brought about by damages to the developing brain’s motor control centers. These damages may have been incurred during pregnancy or during actual childbirth. In some instances, cerebral palsy develops long after birth or up until the infant reaches the age of three.

Contrary to what many people believe, cerebral palsy is not in any way contagious. Thus, the condition is non-communicable and could not be passed on from a patient to another person. It is just okay to be dealing with and interacting with children with cerebral palsy. The sad news is that the condition has always been curable, though modern medicine is continuously looking for possible cures and treatments. However, in many instances, an appropriate physical therapy into a child could spell a really huge difference.

Motor disorders related to cerebral palsy are accompanied more often by disturbances in perception, sensation, communication, behavior, and cognition. As mentioned, there is no cure, but there are usual medical interventions, which are limited to prevention and treatment of possible complications. There are also findings or studies that show that improvements and progress in neonatal nursing could possibly help lower the number of infants who are born with the condition.

There are three major categories or classifications of cerebral palsy, namely, spastic, ataxic, and athetoid or dyskinetic. Spastic is the most common type of cerebral palsy. It occurs in about 80% of reported cases. Patients exhibit neuromuscular conditions that stem from damages to the motor cortex, which in turn influences the brain’s ability to cognate.

Ataxic cerebral palsy is the type that is linked to possible damages to the cerebellum. It occurs less frequently, accounting for only about 10% of reported cerebral palsy cases. Patients exhibit tremors and hypotonia. Their skills in typing, writing, and using scissors are affected, along with physical balance while walking. Athetoid or dyskinetic type of cerebral palsy is rare. Patients often show signs of involuntary movements. They find it hard to keep still in a position and hold objects.

Once an infant is diagnosed to have cerebral palsy, there is an automatic need for further optional diagnostic tests. It is also interesting to note that male infants are more likely to have cerebral palsy than females. Specific advances and improvements in care of expecting mothers have been found not to help decrease or eliminate occurrence of cerebral palsy.


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