Cerebral palsy is acquired at an early age, sometimes even before the birth of a child. It affects the motor functions of the body. Its signs and symptoms usually manifest in the first year of life. The abnormality in the motor functions is due to non-progressive brain lesions. The body's motor system provides one with the ability to move around and control various movements, but due to the presence of brain lesions, these functions become impaired.
The word cerebral is the area in the brain which is affected, while the word palsy means complete (or sometimes partial) muscle paralysis, which is most frequently accompanied by a loss of sensation and uncontrollable tremors. A renowned neurologist in Gurgaon from Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI), says
Cerebral palsy is not as uncommon as one would think - globally, it affects 1 to 3 out of every 1000 children born. Premature infants and infants born with low weight are at higher risk of developing this condition.
What causes cerebral palsy?
The cerebrum controls the movement of the muscles and even though cerebral palsy might appear to be a muscle condition, it is actually caused by damage to one's cerebrum. This part of the brain is also responsible for our ability to learn, memory as well as communication skills. This is why sometimes those with cerebral palsy find it difficult to communicate and learn new things. Cerebrum damage can sometimes also affect one's vision and hearing abilities.
Sometimes it happens that babies are deprived of oxygen either during labor or during their delivery. Due to this, doctors initially thought that oxygen deprivation was the cause of the brain damage in these children. Later on, it was discovered that this was not true; a lot of damage to the brain among those children suffering from cerebral palsy happened even before they were born.
When a member of the family is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it is important to understand that no single doctor or specialist can handle the condition on their own. They need to have at hand a team of health professionals and their services which will be involved round the clock looking after the patient's needs.
The team of professionals includes a pediatrician, a physical therapist (physiotherapist), a speech and language therapist, and an educational psychologist in the very least (there can be more additions according to the requirement of the patient). Various plans will be drawn which take into account the need of the child as well as that of the family. The plans will keep changing according to the age of the child. A care plan will be individually drawn up which addresses the needs and/or problems of the child and the family. There is no set treatment for cerebral palsy - it depends entirely on the needs of the patient. The ultimate aim of these treatments and therapies is to help the child achieve independence in their life.
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