Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of disorders resulting from pathology to the brain during its development that presents with symptoms and effects that vary greatly among patient to patient in both severity and number. Because no two Cerebral Palsy patients are the same, neither will their treatment options be.
Cerebral Palsy is a common childhood neurological disorder that often leaves patients with lifelong difficulties with movement, balance, and posture, as well as co-existing conditions that may affect hearing and vision, among other things. Most cases of Cerebral Palsy are ‘static,’ meaning patients have stiff muscles that can contribute to difficulties with movement, and may cause them to walk with an abnormal gait. The abnormalities in movement associated with the condition can lead to an assortment of secondary complications such as hip dislocation, osteoporosis, and hand dysfunction. In addition to affecting mobility, Cerebral Palsy commonly influences cognition and behavior. The severity of the condition is widely varied and can range from having a large impact on all of the patient’s mental and physical processes to affecting only a minor aspect of the patient’s movement. Early signs that an infant may have Cerebral Palsy include late onset of normal movement milestones such as crawling and walking.
Risk-factors for cerebral palsy
Cerebral Palsy results from damage to the brain while it is still developing and can occur before, during and after birth. A majority of cases are contracted prenatally due to largely unknown causes. Some variables that increase the chances of developing Cerebral Palsy before birth include:
- Being born prematurely
- Having an extremely low birth weight
- Trauma during pregnancy
- Complications during birth
A significant percentage of Cerebral Palsy cases develop from brain damage after birth. Common ways that infants and newborns get brain damage that may lead to Cerebral Palsy include:
- Bacterial Meningitis
- Viral Encephalitis
- Motor Vehicle Collisions
- Child Abuse
What are the treatments for Cerebral Palsy?
There is no cure for Cerebral Palsy, co-medical management of the condition is not typically aimed at getting rid of the symptoms, rather it is focused on improving the patient’s functionality and quality of life so they can live as normally and independently as possible. The most effective treatment plans for Cerebral Palsy are intensive in scope and begin soon after the onset of the condition. Research has shown that a team approach by multiple practitioners who all address specific components of the patient’s condition to be the best and most comprehensive approach. Depending on the severity of the condition many patients with cerebral palsy will benefit from separate specialists to address areas such as the following:
- Mechanical aids
- Speech Therapy
- Behavioral Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Surgical Management
- Pharmacological management
- Management of associated symptoms
Although Cerebral Palsy can be an extremely debilitating affliction, with optimal care and management, patients may effectively cope with this life long condition.
Cerebral Palsy does not generally affect a patient’s life expectancy, and with proper care and treatment, patients with this condition can often live full, independent lives. A qualified team of Physician Life Care Planners can help you prepare for the lifelong care and costs associated with Cerebral Palsy.