Growth and development is essential in human lives as it is the yardstick to measure the milestones been reached in life. An ailment that would then alter normal growth and development is a thing that calls for concern; Cerebral palsy is one of the ailments that could hinder growth and development.

Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in children i. e movement disorder. It is a brain disorder that affects a child’s movement, motor skills and muscle tone. Cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage that develops while the baby is still in the uterus, during labor and delivery and shortly after delivery. Symptoms of cerebral palsy vary from child to the other.

Cerebral palsy can lead to a number of other medical conditions depending on the severity of the disorder.

  • Speech problems
  • Learning disabilities`
  • Problems with hearing and vision
  • Epilepsy
  • Emotional issues
  • Spinal deformities
  • Joint problems.

WHAT CAN BE SEEN IN A CHILD WITH CEREBRAL PALSY?

  • Failure to reach milestone in walking, crawling and sitting up.
  • Abnormal movement
  • Movement inhibition
  • Stiff muscles
  • Muscles tend to become stiffer the more the child grows
  • Difficulties with controlling individual muscles
  • Difficulties moving from one position to another.

The above symptoms are seen in children that has Spastic Cerebral palsy. There is a more severe form of spastic cerebral palsy called spastic quadriplegia, the child is unable to walk, experiences chronic seizure, also has difficulty in hearing and speech and learning.

Another type of cerebral palsy is Dyskinetic cerebral palsy. The signs are

  • Repetitive, twisting motions.
  • Slow, writhing movements
  • Unpredictable, irregular movements.
  • Awkward Posture
  • Movement are usually accompanied by pain
  • Difficulty in swallowing and talking.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF CEREBRAL PALSY?

Brain damage is the underlying cause of this condition

Brain damage during pregnancy could be caused by these factors.

  • Failure of the brain to develop properly
  • Maternal illnesses
  • Inadequate blood flow to the developing brain.
  • Genetic conditions.
  • Ingestions of toxins or drugs while pregnant.

DURING DELIVERY

  • Improper use of forceps and other tools during delivery
  • Delayed caesarian section if indicated.

AFTER BIRTH

  • Accidents or falls leading to head injury

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CHILD HAS CEREBRAL PALSY?

It won’t be noticed until the child reaches age of walking and talking. There would be lack of muscle control and coordination. Parents that noticed this should find out from the physician for confirmation of diagnosis.

A developmental screening test can also be done to allow physician see if a child has developmental delay.

STEPS TO TAKE TO LOWER THE RISK OF HAVING A BABY WITH CEREBRAL PALSY?

  • Eating a healthy diet before getting pregnant and avoid taking alcohol and substance
  • During pregnancy, continue eating healthy diet and also avoid taking alcohol, smoking and taking drugs.
  • During labor, Caesarean section should be done if indicated to prevent brain damage that can lead to cerebral palsy.
  • Toddlers and infant should be prevented from fatal falls and accidents.
  • Spills should be cleaned properly.
  • Keep toxic substances out of reach of children.
  • Restrain children properly in a moving vehicle.

WHAT DO I DO IF MY CHILD HAS CEREBRAL PALSY?

Seeking help is paramount in caring for a child with cerebral palsy. The child needs to visit specialists ranging from physicians that will manage according to symptoms to physical therapist that will help in muscle relaxation to speech therapist in cases of speech impairment. Not all children with cerebral palsy are intellectually impaired, some display average or above average intelligence. Intellectual impairment is mostly caused by injury that causes the cerebral palsy.

LIVING WITH CEREBRAL PALSY

Rearing a child with cerebral palsy could be expensive and stressful. Keeping appointments with doctors, therapists is always a burden on caregivers but these measures can be taken to make it easier for the parent and the child.

  • Be your child’s first therapist: Learn ways to help your child exercise and reduce pain and build balances.
  • Diet: Give calcium-rich food to build their bones
  • Exercise: Exercise with hem or make them exercise to make their muscle active to reduce muscle spasm.
  • Mind building: Listening to music, focusing on art, going out will broaden the child’s mind and gain more self esteem .
  • Positive attitude towards life: A child with cerebral palsy will always think about not being able to function optimally like his peers. The role of the parent is to keep a positive attitude and help the child realize all of the things that he’s able to do on his own or with help.
  • Meet other parents: This will foster interpersonal relationship among the parents and children with cerebral palsy. Ideas and tips to manage the children can also be shared