It refers to movement disorder which results in immature, damage developing brain of a child. Cerebral palsy generally occurs before the birth of a child.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a broad term used to describe a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way). CP is usually caused by brain damage that occurs before or during a child's birth, or during the first 3 to 5 years of a child's life.
Cerebral palsy is an abnormality of motor function and this abnormality in the motor system is the result of brain damage that is non-progressive. "Non-progressive" means that the lesion does not produce continuing degeneration of the brain. Function of the motor system is to provide the ability to move and also control movements.
The brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy can also lead to other health problems, including vision, hearing, and speech problems, and learning disabilities. However, the symptoms due to the brain damage often change over time -- sometimes getting better and sometimes getting worse.
In most cases, the cause of congenital cerebral palsy is unknown. But evidence supports theories that infections, birth injuries, and poor oxygen supply to the brain before, during, and immediately after birth result are common factors.
Other causes of cerebral palsy include genetic disorders, stroke due to abnormal blood vessels or blood clots. Severe illness (such as meningitis) during the first years of life, physical trauma, and severe dehydration can cause brain injury and result in CP.
Premature birth is a risk factor for cerebral palsy. Children that are born prematurely can also develop serious respiratory distress; this can lead to periods of poor oxygen supply to the brain that might result in cerebral palsy.
- Spastic cerebral palsy
Spastic cerebral palsy causes stiffness and movement difficulties in one or more extremities, largely due to the inability to coordinate movements. Mostly the spasticity occurs on one side of the body (hemi paresis), but it can also affect the four limbs (quadriparesis) or be limited to both legs (spastic diplegia).
The degree of spasticity can vary, ranging from mild to severe. If Spasticity not treated properly it can result in contractures, which are permanent limitations in the ability of joint movement. There can also be limitations of speech, chewing, swallowing, and facial and eye movements. Some children will have seizures.
- Athetoid or dyskinetic (or Athetoid dyskinetic) cerebral palsy
This is the second most common type of cerebral palsy in which whole body is affected. Muscle tone becomes weak, Intelligence will nearly always be normal. The main feature is the presence of abnormal involuntary movements in the arms, legs and face. The child will have problems in walking, sitting, maintaining posture, and speaking clearly etc.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy
The child's balance and depth perception are affected. Ataxic CP is a rare form of CP. The fine motor coordination is much affected, as well as the gait. In these children there is a marked loss of voluntary muscular coordination so that movements are performed with abnormal force, rhythm, and accuracy. Such as difficult to tie his/her shoelaces, difficulties in walking, button up shirts, cut with scissors, and other fine motor skills. Most children with ataxic cerebral palsy are of normal intelligence and have good communication skills.
- Hypotonic cerebral palsy
Hypotonia means diminished muscle tone. Muscle problems will appear much earlier. In early infancy, hypotonia can be easily seen by the inability of the infant to gain any head control when pulled by the arms to a sitting position. Some parents have described their child's movements as similar to that of a rag doll. The baby gives only a moderate amount of resistance when an adult tries to move their limbs.
- Choreoathetoid cerebral palsy
Choreoathetoid (sometimes referred as athetoid) cerebral palsy is associated with abnormal, involuntary movements of the limbs, trunk and even the face.
Persons with choreoathetoid cerebral palsy have variable muscle tone often with decreased muscle tone (hypotonia). The abnormal movements are activated/or aggravated by stress, normal emotional reactions such as weeping, laughing or any attempt to do voluntary movements such as extending the arm in an attempt to reach an object might result in many involuntary movements in limbs, trunk and even the face. These movements can be quite debilitating and greatly limit the child's ability to perform many motor tasks.
- Mixed cerebral palsy
The different types of cerebral palsy described above are rarely seen as pure clinical forms; Most of the children with cerebral palsy have multiple symptoms with combinations of the various forms of cerebral palsy.
The predominant symptoms and signs of cerebral palsy are related to motor difficulties, which are the consequence of the brain damage. The extension and severity of the brain lesion is the leading factor in the magnitude of the motor deficit. Many of the symptoms observed in these children are related to the primary problem that is impaired motor functions. , it is difficult to describe a clinical picture that will satisfy every child with cerebral palsy because some children may be blind, while others may have normal vision; or some children may have severe cognitive delay while others may have normal or near normal cognitive level. Most of the children with cerebral palsy have multiple symptoms with combinations of the various forms of cerebral palsy. Child with cerebral palsy may have some of the following signs and symptoms:
- Achieves developmental milestones, such as crawling, walking, or speaking, later than his/her peers
- Feeding and respiratory problems
- Crawls in an unusual way
- Has abnormal muscle tone - the child will slouch while sitting. Muscle tone refers to a person's automatic ability to tighten and relax muscle when required.
- Muscles are stiff and contract abnormally (spastic paralysis)
- Has difficulty feeding and sucking
- Favors one side of the body over the other
- Lethargy and coma depending on the severity
- Has overdeveloped or underdeveloped muscles (has floppy or stiff movements)
- Bad coordination and balance (ataxia)
- Involuntary, slow writing movements
- Hearing problems
- Gastric disorders
- Has problems swallowing
- Range of movements is limited and etc.
A definitive test for cerebral palsy (CP) does not exist at this time. Doctors diagnose CP by testing the infant's motor skills, looking for characteristic symptoms and considering the child's medical history.
Brain-imaging study can reveal areas of damage or abnormal development in the brain. These tests may include computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to look for abnormalities in the infant's brain. If your child has had seizures, your doctor may advise an electroencephalogram (EEG) to determine if he or she has epilepsy, which often occurs in people with cerebral palsy.