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Cerebral Palsy

It is unlikely to prevent cerebral palsies that are linked to genetic abnormalities, except they are acquired. Few of the risk factors however, can be avoided and managed in the early stages of pregnancy. Certain medical conditions or events during pregnancy and delivery may increase a baby’s risk of being born with cerebral palsy. These risks include:

-Premature babies born at very early gestational ages as well as babies weighing less than 2kg at birth are at a very high risk of developing cerebral palsy in full-term when compared to normal weight babies.

-Multiple births as well as the death of one twin or triplet increases the risk.

-Fever in pregnancy can also tick off an inflammatory response. Infections such as herpes can infect the womb and placenta and damage the developing nervous system in the unborn baby.

-Vascular or respiratory problems during labor

-Severe and untreated jaundice

-When a mothers system and blood type is incompatible with that of the baby, her body may generate antibodies that will destroy the baby’s blood cells and cause a brain damage.

-The mothers’ exposure to toxic substances during pregnancy.

-Maternal abnormalities such as seizures and thyroid problems

-When there is a breech presentation of the baby due to floppiness

-Seizures in early childhood

Complications during pregnancy, labor and delivery

 Common types of Cerebral Palsy

There are various forms of cerebral palsy, however the Spastic cerebral palsy has various forms:

  • Spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis -This the most critical form of CP as it often affects intellectual ability, causes severe stiffness and frequent seizures. Children with this form of CP are usually unable to communicate meaningfully and can barely walk. They may make attempts at speaking but are hardly understood because of the significant malformations and intense damage to the brain.
  • Spastic hemiplegia/hemiparesis usually affects the arm and hand on one side of the body. Sometimes, it affects the leg. The affected arm and leg are noticeably shorter and thinner .Tip-toeing because of tight heel tendons and delayed walking are some of the effects in children with spastic hemiplegia. Delayed speech, an abnormal spine posture as well as seizures are the some of the other effects.
  • Spastic diplegia/diparesis – Here, there is muscle stiffness in the legs and sometimes on the arms and face muscle. Children with this type of CP may require a walker or leg braces because of the tightness in the leg muscles or the hyperactivity of it. Social Intelligence and speech may also be normal.

Therapy types for Cerebral Palsy:

Physical therapy in the first few years of life can improve muscle strength, balance and motor skills. Braces are also be used to stretch spastic muscles and help mobility.

Occupational therapy focuses on the upper body area to improve posture and balance in day-to-day activities.

Recreation therapy encourages social participation and helps improve physical and cognitive skills and abilities. This helps promote the child’s communication and general emotional well-being.

Speech and language therapy help with swallowing disorder and speech problems. The target is to use tools and symbols to improve the child’s communication ability.