When we think of cerebral palsy, a seated child comes to mind, totally dependent and without control of his movements. But what few know are the real reasons that lead to childhood cerebral palsy and how it develops throughout life. But initially we will understand what this paralysis is about and what the main causes are.
What affects cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy or chronic non-progressive encephalopathy as it is known by medicine is a general term that covers a set of disorders in the brain without recovery and that completely affects the child’s movements, balance, coordination and posture. This disorder occurs due to an injury or more in the brain region or dysfunction of the nervous system that is not considered a disease but an irreversible pathological condition.
Its cause is not directly linked to a single reason, since there are several factors that can trigger infantile cerebral palsy. One of the main hypotheses is that some dysfunction occurs during the fetal brain development , which is already started right after conception and is finished after the baby is born. Therefore, any change in this stage of development is harmful to brain function and can offer permanent and irreversible damage.
The greatest occurrences are related to premature babies, born with low weight (below 1.5 kg) or problems during pregnancy, for example, diseases that alter the functionality of the placenta or blood flow of the uterus. The causes are also related to the following problems:
- Genetic malformation
- Head trauma
In addition to those listed above, rubella, syphilis, AIDS, toxoplasmosis and the consumption of drugs, medication, alcohol and cigarettes during pregnancy are directly related to the occurrence of infantile cerebral palsy. In addition to the incompatibility of the RH factor between mother and child and the main occurrence of cases, the lack of oxygen in the brain during labor.
What Are the Symptoms of Childhood Cerebral Palsy?
The symptoms of cerebral palsy are different in each child and their symptoms are particular to each affected brain area and its severity. Among the most common symptoms are mental retardation, difficulty breathing, difficulties with motor development, muscle weakness and problems with speech. Through symptoms, medicine separates paralysis into three types:
- Spastic paralysis – It is the most common type of paralysis, where the child has more rigid, hard and involuntary body movements. Its main characteristic is muscle stiffness caused by injury to the pyramidal system. Its biggest cause is premature birth;
- Ataxic paralysis – completely affects balance, coordination and movements in general. It affects the part of the cerebellum and provides the sensation of falling and perception of depth in the child;
- Dyskinetic or athetoid paralysis – The child presents involuntary, uncontrolled and even atypical movements. The affected area of the brain is from the extrapyramidal system.
In addition to the motor disorder, other neurological symptoms can occur, such as seizures, difficulties in vision, hearing loss, difficulty in feeding and each of them can compromise the child’s general development.
The diagnosis of infantile cerebral palsy is totally clinical, where through all the information, histories and occurrences passed by the family complementing the child’s physical evaluation, the diagnosis is closed. Unfortunately, there is no specific exam to complete the diagnosis . All tests requested are considered complementary to arrive at the result through the evaluation of the condition.
Unfortunately, infantile cerebral palsy has no cure, as it is an irreversible damage to the brain system. Therefore, the treatments indicated are aimed at improving the child’s development, increasing their quality of life and reducing the risk of complications in the future.
IMPORTANT: Monthly consultations with pediatricians are essential to monitor the development of the baby / child. All information such as growth, muscle strength, coordination and the appropriate skills for each age group will be noted.
The treatment must be carried out and accompanied by a group of specialists and health professionals. Where dentists, physiotherapists and nurses should work each in their area providing chances for improvement in the picture.
One of the essential accompaniments for the development of children with cerebral palsy is physiotherapy, where it is possible to offer improvement in posture, muscle tone and improvement in the child’s respiratory condition.
Special care and monitoring are also required with a pediatric neurologist, occupational therapist, speech therapist , social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist and a teacher prepared for special education who will assess and provide adequate teaching under the conditions of each staff.
The medication part is based on anticonvulsant drugs and agitation control generated by mental retardation. Currently, medicine is fighting for research that aims to use stem cells in the treatment of cerebral palsy, focusing on the regeneration of the affected brain area.
Is there prevention?
Since it is not considered a disease and there is no determining factor for paralysis to occur, prevention is impossible . But if the pregnant woman has a correct prenatal care with an obstetrician and through the tests requested throughout the gestational period, it is possible to reduce the chances of the occurrence.
The lack of treatment can aggravate the child’s symptoms , causing shortening of limbs, atrophy and intense stiffness of muscles and intensifying difficulties in vision, speech, dentition and psychiatric conditions.
In many cases where children do not receive adequate care and treatment, when they reach a certain age, the situation becomes almost untenable for family members to care for. Therefore, treatment is essential to offer better chances of development and quality of life not only for children, but for the whole family that lives together.
See Also: Child Speech Therapy – When to Look?
My name is Dr. Alexis Hart I am 38 years old, I am the mother of 3 beautiful children! Different ages, different phases 16 years, 12 years and 7 years. In love with motherhood since always, I found it difficult to make my dreams come true, and also some more after I was already a mother.
Since I imagined myself as a mother, in my thoughts everything seemed to be much easier and simpler than it really was, I expected to get pregnant as soon as I wished, but it wasn’t that simple. The first pregnancy was smooth, but my daughter’s birth was very troubled. Joana was born in 2002 with a weight of 2930kg and 45cm, from a very peaceful cesarean delivery but she had already been born with congenital pneumonia due to a broken bag not treated with antibiotics even before delivery.