Cerebral Palsy Help

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects the brain and causes motor deficiency. The cause is not always known, but it typically occurs while a child’s brain is still developing. The brain damage usually happens before, during, or shortly after birth and can end up being a lifetime disability for the affected child.

Cerebral refers to the part of the body affected, and palsy refers to paralysis of voluntary movement across parts of the body.

Because symptoms arise early (usually during the first three years of life), it is important to learn how to spot them quickly and consult with a specialist before beginning treatment.

Some quick facts about cerebral palsy:

  • Cerebral palsy is not contagious
  • It is not progressive, meaning it does not get worse over time
  • In fact, some people find that symptoms actually improve over time

The vast majority of cerebral palsy cases are considered “congenital,” meaning that the brain damage occurred before or during childbirth. The primary causes of congenital cerebral palsy include:

  • Low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds)
  • Prematurity (born before 37 weeks)
  • Multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART)
  • Maternal infections while pregnant
  • Maternal health conditions (seizures, thyroid problems, etc.)
  • Complications during birth (uterine rupture, placenta previa, umbilical cord problems, disrupted oxygen supply, etc.)
  • Fetal stroke
  • Restricted growth
  • Bleeding in the brain

A smaller percentage of cerebral palsy cases are considered “acquired,” meaning that the brain damage occurs 28 days or more after birth. The primary causes of acquired cerebral palsy include:

  • Infant infections (meningitis, encephalitis, etc.)
  • Brain injury (head injury due to auto accident, abuse, or other trauma)
  • Restricted blood flow to the brain (clotting problem, cerebrovascular accidents, stroke, bleeding in the brain, etc.)

Types of Cerebral Palsy

Though all people with CP have problems with movement and posture, doctors classify CP into one of four types based on the main type of movement disorder presented. For example, a child with uncontrollable movements might be diagnosed with Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy while one with poor balance and coordination might receive a diagnosis of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy. Knowing which symptoms align with which types is a crucial step on your child’s health journey.

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Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis

In general, diagnosis of cerebral palsy occurs during a newborn’s first 2 years as part of their regular health care provider visits. During these visits, the child’s doctor checks to make sure the child is reaching expected developmental milestones and looking for specific symptoms of CP like muscle tone abnormalities, lack of motor control, hearing and vision problems, and coordination issues.

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Cerebral Palsy Causes

Cerebral Palsy is caused by damage or abnormal development of the brain’s outer layer, the cerebral cortex. Depending on how it occurred, it might be classified as either congenital – meaning born with the disorder – or acquired.

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Risk Factors

When it comes to the risk factors with cerebral palsy, you have a few things that can add to the dangers. This condition happens as a result of the child getting brain damage in the cerebellum during the birthing process. The cerebellum controls the motor functioning of the body, and when this gets damaged, the child will struggle to control his muscles. The signal between the brain and the muscles get scrambled. That’s one of the reasons that this condition has become known as a neuromuscular condition.

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Luckily, if your child gets diagnosed with cerebral palsy, they will often live as long of a life as a regular person. It depends on the severity because some will live a slightly shorter life, but it won’t be anything that is too serious. The cerebral palsy prognosis will differ from one person to the next depending on the severity of the birth injury. Some will only live to 30 while others will live up until 70. You have a broad range.

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Cerebral Palsy Life Expectancy

While cerebral palsy can cause debilitating effects that they will feel throughout their lifetime, this disease doesn’t classify as degenerative, which means that it would get progressively worse. This condition doesn’t get worse as your child grows older, which means that the cerebral palsy life expectancy doesn’t look too much worse than what it does with the rest of the population. The only exception to this rule is if the infant was born with other health problems along with some of the ones that they currently have. In some cases, other health complications can arise as a result of your child having CP. Normally, your doctor will check for these things.

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Cerebral Palsy Related Conditions

While cerebral palsy itself isn’t considered deadly, some of the conditions that can arise can cause death. Some of these medical conditions and disabilities only occur inside of a vacuum. You have some cases that involve the brain, and you have neuromuscular disorders that can result from this condition that can cause you a lot of heartache. CP affects the brain’s cerebellum, which is the motor functioning center of the brain. They have linked it with many other medical conditions that can have adverse consequences on the child. In addition, the quality of the child’s life can suffer a hugely negative impact.

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Living with Cerebral Palsy

While CP can be a debilitating disorder, with the help of assistive devices there is hope for a relatively normal life. Further, because CP is a “non-degenerative” disorder, individuals with CP should experience no worsening of symptoms over time.

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Cerebral Palsy Costs

Over the lifetime of your child, the cerebral palsy costs can stretch to $1 million in total. It can cost you much. Many times when someone has this conditon, you won’t hear much about the associated costs that they face medically. These costs will most likely continue over the child’s lifetime, so you want to remain aware of them. You can also seek financial help to make some of the costs go down. In many cases, families have found themselves overwhelmed and in debt because of these things.

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Cerebral Palsy Cure

The search for a cure for cerebral palsy rages on because this debilitating illness can have lasting effects throughout the child’s lifetime. Based on information from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one out of every 323 children within the United States will have this condition. It affects the muscular condition and the motor function. While you have multiple ways that you could choose to treat this condition, most of it focuses on making the symptoms less tolerable. You don’t have a definite cerebral palsy cure at this time.

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Cerebral Palsy Frequently Asked Questions

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When you look at cerebral palsy history, this health condition hasn’t gone anywhere since the beginning of time. You can race across the spectrum of time, and in some of the most ancient civilizations, you will find that people had this condition. It has been recorded in all the major civilizations from the Greeks to the Romans to the Egyptians. The modern world has a few advantages over antiquity in that we can treat it a little better than before even if we still haven’t identified a cure.

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As of right now, experts estimate that 500,000 children under the age of 18 have cerebral palsy. That should highlight the extent of the problem. In addition, three children out of every 1,000 will be born with this birth injury. In understanding some of the cerebral palsy statistics, you can hopefully have a better understanding of how to best proceed with it.

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Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

Considered a severe disability that can have lasting side effects, some of the cerebral palsy symptoms can be quite debilitating. It can leave a child unable to walk, leave them with intellectual disabilities or leave them with poor vision. This neurological muscular disorder can leave your child with many struggles in life. The sooner that you diagnose this condition, the better because of how you decrease the risk that the cerebral palsy will have more severe symptoms.

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Treatment for a birth disorder is largely determined by the type of injury, diagnosis, and severity of the symptoms. For instance, a child diagnosed with cerebral palsy will assume a treatment plan that might include physical therapy, assistive devices, and medications. A child with Erb’s Palsy, on the other hand, will likely require only physical therapy for treatment.

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Article Citations

  1. Medical News Today
  2. Kids Health
  3. CDC