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Category Archives: Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic

Posted: December 16, 2017 at 7:42 pm


If your family doctor or pediatrician suspects your child has cerebral palsy, he or she will evaluate your child’s signs and symptoms, review your child’s medical history, and conduct a physical evaluation. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist trained in treating children with brain and nervous system conditions (pediatric neurologist).

Your doctor will also order a series of tests to make a diagnosis and rule out other possible causes.

Brain-imaging technologies can reveal areas of damage or abnormal development in the brain. These tests may include the following:

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses radio waves and a magnetic field to produce detailed 3-D or cross-sectional images of your child’s brain. An MRI can often identify any lesions or abnormalities in your child’s brain.

This test is painless, but it’s noisy and can take up to an hour to complete. Your child will likely receive a mild sedative beforehand. An MRI is usually the preferred imaging test.

If your child has had seizures, your doctor may order an electroencephalogram (EEG) to determine if he or she has epilepsy, which often occurs in people with cerebral palsy. In an EEG test, a series of electrodes are affixed to your child’s scalp.

The EEG records the electrical activity of your child’s brain. If he or she has epilepsy, it’s common for there to be changes in normal brain wave patterns.

Laboratory tests may also screen for genetic or metabolic problems.

If your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you’ll likely be referred to specialists for assessments of other conditions often associated with the disorder. These tests may identify:

Children and adults with cerebral palsy require long-term care with a medical care team. This team may include:

Medications that can lessen the tightness of muscles may be used to improve functional abilities, treat pain and manage complications related to spasticity or other cerebral palsy symptoms.

It’s important to talk about drug treatment risks with your doctor and discuss whether medical treatment is appropriate for your child’s needs. Medication selection depends on whether the problem affects only certain muscles (isolated) or the whole body (generalized). Drug treatments may include the following:

Isolated spasticity. When spasticity is isolated to one muscle group, your doctor may recommend onabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections directly into the muscle, nerve or both. Botox injections may help to improve drooling. Your child will need injections about every three months.

Side effects may include pain, mild flu-like symptoms, bruising or severe weakness. Other more-serious side effects include difficulty breathing and swallowing.

Generalized spasticity. If the whole body is affected, oral muscle relaxants may relax stiff, contracted muscles. These drugs include diazepam (Valium), dantrolene (Dantrium) and baclofen (Gablofen).

Diazepam carries some dependency risk, so it’s not recommended for long-term use. Its side effects include drowsiness, weakness and drooling.

Dantrolene side effects include sleepiness, weakness, nausea and diarrhea.

Baclofen side effects include sleepiness, confusion and nausea. Note that baclofen may also be pumped directly into the spinal cord with a tube. The pump is surgically implanted under the skin of the abdomen.

Your child also may be prescribed medications to reduce drooling. Medications such as trihexyphenidyl, scopolamine or glycopyrrolate (Robinul, Robinul Forte) may be helpful, as can Botox injection into the salivary glands.

A variety of nondrug therapies can help a person with cerebral palsy enhance functional abilities:

Physical therapy. Muscle training and exercises may help your child’s strength, flexibility, balance, motor development and mobility. You’ll also learn how to safely care for your child’s everyday needs at home, such as bathing and feeding your child.

For the first 1 to 2 years after birth, both physical and occupational therapists provide support with issues such as head and trunk control, rolling, and grasping. Later, both types of therapists are involved in wheelchair assessments.

Braces or splints may be recommended for your child. Some of these supports help with function, such as improved walking. Others may stretch stiff muscles to help prevent rigid muscles (contractures).

Occupational therapy. Using alternative strategies and adaptive equipment, occupational therapists work to promote your child’s independent participation in daily activities and routines in the home, the school and the community.

Adaptive equipment may include walkers, quadrupedal canes, seating systems or electric wheelchairs.

Speech and language therapy. Speech-language pathologists can help improve your child’s ability to speak clearly or to communicate using sign language.

Speech-language pathologists can also teach your child to use communication devices, such as a computer and voice synthesizer, if communication is difficult.

Another communication device may be a board covered with pictures of items and activities your child may see in daily life. Sentences can be constructed by pointing to the pictures.

Speech therapists may also address difficulties with muscles used in eating and swallowing.

Surgery may be needed to lessen muscle tightness or correct bone abnormalities caused by spasticity. These treatments include:

Orthopedic surgery. Children with severe contractures or deformities may need surgery on bones or joints to place their arms, hips or legs in their correct positions.

Surgical procedures can also lengthen muscles and tendons that are proportionally too short because of severe contractures. These corrections can lessen pain and improve mobility. The procedures may also make it easier to use a walker, braces or crutches.

Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this disease.

Some children and adolescents with cerebral palsy use some form of complementary or alternative medicine.

For example, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is widely promoted for cerebral palsy treatment despite limited evidence of efficacy. This and other unproven therapies for cerebral palsy should be viewed with skepticism. Controlled clinical trials involving therapies such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, resistance exercise training using special clothing, assisted motion completion for children and certain forms of electrical stimulation have been inconclusive or showed no benefit to date, and the therapies are not accepted mainstream clinical practice.

Stem cell therapy is being explored as a treatment approach for cerebral palsy, but research is still assessing whether such approaches are safe and effective. Studies in the U.S. and elsewhere are examining the safety and tolerability of umbilical cord blood stem cell infusion in children with cerebral palsy.

When a child is diagnosed with a disabling condition, the whole family faces new challenges. Here are a few tips for caring for your child and yourself:

Find support. A circle of support can make a big difference in helping you cope with cerebral palsy and its effects. As a parent, you may feel grief and guilt over your child’s disability.

Your doctor can help you locate support groups, organizations and counseling services in your community. Your child may also benefit from family support programs, school programs and counseling.

If your child has cerebral palsy, how you learn about your child’s condition may depend on the severity of the disabilities, when problems first appeared, and whether there were any risk factors during pregnancy or delivery.

Your doctor may ask you several questions during appointments, including:

If your family doctor or pediatrician believes that your child exhibits signs of cerebral palsy, you may want to discuss the following questions:

It’s important to take your child to all regularly scheduled well-baby visits and annual appointments during childhood. These visits are an opportunity for your child’s doctor to monitor your child’s development in key areas, including:

Aug. 25, 2016

Cerebral palsy – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic

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Cerebral Palsy | What Are the Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment …

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The mission of Cerebral Palsy Group is simple: to educate and support those who live with a CP diagnosis. To do so, we have created a resource where anyone can learn more about the symptoms and causes of muscular disorders and find resources and support for assessment and comparison of treatment options and technologies. We strive to cover everything from traditional approaches to cutting-edge research.

Any type of disability diagnosis raises difficult questions about long-term plans for those affected. Uncertainty and fear of the unknown can cause a ripple effect of stress throughout a family. Our goal is to break through the confusion and make it easier for parents to seek appropriate care.

For those who play an active role in a childs development, nothing is more critical than defining and identifying the symptoms of CP as quickly as possible. The sooner that families are educated on cerebral palsy, the sooner both health professionals and loved ones can start working toward a better life for the affected child.

The Cerebral Palsy Group helps you understand what to look for and explains the underlying causes behind possible symptoms and behaviors. When you need answers, weve created ways for you to get information (and hope) at any hour of the day.

Though it may look a little bit different, the future is bright for those with Cerebral Palsy. Our focus is on bringing to light the mechanisms of the disability in hopes that education can help affected families plan for this future.

Children may develop muscle disorders for any number of reasons, including birth injury or trauma. Experts are still struggling to understand the full scope of these disorders. Our goal is to continue to bring you the most up-to-date information from trusted sources as it becomes available.

This resource goes beyond the physical aspects of the condition. Emotional well-being is also key to treatment. Those living with cerebral palsy may face social stigmas, bullying or other related pressures. Coping skills and behavioral techniques can be taught as lifelong tools to handle these concerns. We give you the means to learn more about the different options available, so you can make smart decisions from the start.

Nothing compares to having a safety net, which is what our group is always striving to be for you. We offer a space for families to read about any and all concerns. We strive to provide the network that will point the way toward a more positive life for the child with CP and his or her family. For instance, physical therapy is a proven way for those with CP to gain more muscle strength and control, so children can feel more empowered in daily life. Behavioral therapy is also an excellent option for children with emotional roadblocks when confronting limitations. There is always something that can be done to aid a child living with cerebral palsy, and our work here is geared toward helping you find it.

Whether you want to know about the different muscle groups in the body or you want to engage in more therapeutic daily routines, we work to offer the expertise you need with the compassion you deserve.

It can often be difficult to know when and if you are making the right decisions for your child or loved one. It is our mission to help you be confident every step of the way.

By advocating for those with cerebral palsy, we seek to give them their best chance to be productive members of the community. It is important to us that public perception of those with disabilities shifts. It is key to show that individuality is still first and foremost, and this disability is not all-consuming.

Support is important. It is our hope that finding a resource on the future you may be facing can help ease your anxieties and help you to feel just a little bit less overwhelmed.

Nothing in the medical world stays the same for long. We are here to update our resources and respond to the immediate concerns of those who seek our help. We stay informed on cutting edge research developments and treatment options, so you can continue to assess what to do next in the life of the child or the individual with the condition.

While Cerebral Palsy can add challenges to your and your child or loved ones life, it does not have to be isolating, or overwhelming. We seek to give you small, manageable goals that are practical for the whole family. We take sincere pride in bringing people together to create the best path to physical, mental and emotional wellness.

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Posted: at 7:42 pm

It is our belief that knowledge is power. The easier information is to obtain and understand, the more your child benefits. Information is the vital tool that equips us all with an ability to make clear, informed decisions on health, education, wellness, and more. Its almost always true that the more information, the better the potential outcome.

MyChild provides information on topics from A to Z, all made available here, for your convenience. After decades representing families of special needs children, and protecting their rights in the courts and in state legislative hearings, attorney Ken Stern recognized the need for an informative resource where all parents could quickly access needed information to learn, understand and to protect their child. My ChildTM, including the website, its Facebook page, and the MyChildTM Call Center are owned by Ken Stern and serve to make information and compassionate understanding readily available to those who need it most parents just like you.

Beyond an informational resource, our website features stories of success and inspiration regarding children and adults living with Cerebral Palsy, embracing their challenges and achieving amazing things we hope inspire you as much as they do us. Contact us today for free information on anything related to Cerebral Palsy were here to help your child achieve their full potential in any way that we can. For the information you need, and that your child deserves, were here for you!

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Cerebral Palsy (CP) – KidsHealth

Posted: at 7:42 pm

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way).

CP usually is caused by brain damage that happens before or during a baby’s birth, or during the first 3 to 5 years of a child’s life. This brain damage also can lead to other health issues, including vision, hearing, and speech problems; and learning disabilities.

There is no cure for CP, but treatment, therapy, special equipment, and, in some cases, surgery can help kids who are living with the condition.

Cerebral palsy is one of the most common congenital (existing at orbefore birth) disorders of childhood. About 500,000 children in the United States have the condition.

The three types of CP are:

Since cerebral palsy affects muscle control and coordination, even simple movements like standing still are difficult. Other functions that also involve motor skills and muscles such as breathing, bladder and bowel control, eating, and talking also may be affected when a child has CP.

Cerebral palsy does not get worse over time.

The exact causes of CP aren’t always known. But many cases are the result of problems during pregnancy when a fetus’ brain is either damaged or doesn’t develop normally. This can be due to infections, maternal health problems, a genetic disorder, or something else that interferes with normal brain development. Rarely, problems during labor and delivery can cause CP.

Premature babies particularly those who weigh less than 3.3 pounds (1,510 grams) have a higher chance of having CP than babies that are carried to term. So do other low-birthweight babies and multiple births, such as twins and triplets.

Brain damage in infancy or early childhood also can lead to CP. For example, a baby or toddler might suffer damage because of lead poisoning, bacterial meningitis, poor blood flow to the brain, being shaken as an infant (shaken baby syndrome), or being in a car accident.

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Cerebral Palsy (CP) – KidsHealth

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Cerebral Palsy (CP) Information & More | Cleveland Clinic

Posted: at 7:42 pm

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term for describing a group of chronic disorders that impair a person’s ability to control body movement and posture. These disorders result from injury to the motor areas of the brain. Cerebral palsy affects two to six infants out of every 1,000 births, and is the most common disability among children in the U.S. The problem causing cerebral palsy may occur while the infant is still in the womb or after birth, and the problem is not always detectable during a child’s first year of life. Children with mild cerebral palsy may only have a minor limp or an uncoordinated walk, while patients with severe cases will require care and supervision throughout their lives. Many of the infants born with cerebral palsy also experience some degree of mental retardation and/or have seizures.

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common form and is the type seen in 75 to 80 percent of cases. Patients with this form are unable to relax their muscles, which respond by tightening further if the patient or someone else tries to stretch them. This spasticity affects the function of individual muscles, especially flexor muscles.

When spasticity occurs in the arms, the flexors tighten, pulling the elbows toward the body, and hands and wrists toward the chin. The hands themselves form tight fists. This constant tightened state may in turn weaken the extensor muscles, stretching them to the point where some of their functionality is lost. When spasticity occurs in the legs, the flexor muscles in the calves are affected. When this happens, the heels become raised, pushing the toes downward and often causing a child to walk on their toes.

Spasticity in the legs also affects the adductor muscles (the inner thigh muscles). Adductor muscles pull a body part toward its midline, such as those that pull the arms to a person’s side or close a person’s legs. In patients with cerebral palsy, the inward pull of the adductor muscles is so strong that the legs cross over each other or scissor. This motion also rotates the legs inward at the hips, pulling them away from the hip sockets, which can lead to abnormal socket development and hip dislocation.

Other conditions associated with spastic cerebral palsy may include an exaggerated response to startle stimulation, a degree of mental impairment, and weak respiration. Some children with spastic cerebral palsy develop a curvature of the spine. This results from remaining in a constant upright position, which prevents the trunk muscles needed for supporting the spine from developing properly.

Whereas spastic cerebral palsy doesn’t permit the muscles to relax, with athetosis, the muscles are subjected to excessive and uncontrollable movement. These movements also increase with a child’s excitement and in response to surrounding environmental stimulation. Likewise, the more relaxed a child is, the less often these abnormal movements occur. When a child is sleeping, the movements stop altogether.

The movements of a stimulated child form what is called an extensor thrust. When this happens, the arms rapidly extend outward and back, the palms turn toward the floor, the fingers spread and overextend, the knees come together, and the feet turn inward with the toes up. The child’s neck flexes, pulling the head back and to the side, and the mouth opens with the tongue sticking out. These movements can present extreme difficulty for a child when eating and drinking. The child may also have shallow and irregular respiration, which affects oxygen flow to the brain and increases the chance for respiratory infections. Patients with athetotic cerebral palsy also have difficulty with balance and walking.

The characteristics of each of these syndromes are not mutually exclusive, and a child may have spastic cerebral palsy in his or her legs as well as a degree of athetosis elsewhere.

While some of the causes of cerebral palsy are still unknown, there are many known factors that can cause or contribute to brain damage before or after birth. Preventive methods, such as proper prenatal care, can eliminate some causes, while others are as yet unpreventable.

Some of the known causes or contributors to cerebral palsy include:

Patients with cerebral palsy can have a variety of symptoms. These symptoms usually do not worsen over time and include:

Cerebral palsy may affect one arm or leg, an arm and leg on the same side, only the legs, all four limbs, or any combination of arms and legs. Whatever the affected areas may be, the muscle types involved are often the same. Muscles that enable people to bend their arms and legs are called flexor muscles. Extensor muscles are the opposite of flexors and enable a person to straighten these limbs back out. It is the inability to control these and other muscles that defines the most common cerebral palsy syndromes.

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Cerebral palsy | Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center …

Posted: at 7:42 pm

Cerebral palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that can affect the brain and/or spinal cord. Signs and symptoms generally appear during infancy or early childhood and vary based on the type of cerebral palsy (spastic cerebral palsy, dyskinetic cerebral palsy, ataxic cerebral palsy, and mixed cerebral palsy), the severity of the condition and which area(s) of the brain are affected. Common features include a lack of muscle coordination when performing voluntary movements (ataxia); stiff or tight muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity); walking with one foot or leg dragging; walking on the toes, a crouched gait, or a “scissored” gait; and muscle tone that is either too stiff or too floppy. Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain. Most of these problems occur as the baby grows in the womb; however, they can happen at any time during the first 2 years of life. There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but treatment is available to alleviate some symptoms. This may include physical, occupational, and speech therapy; certain medications; surgery; and/or devices (i.e. braces, wheelchairs) to aid in mobility.[1][2][3]

Last updated: 11/18/2015

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Cerebral Palsy – Kids Health

Posted: at 7:42 pm

Have you ever heard a family member talk about your first step or the first word you spoke? For kids with cerebral palsy, called CP for short, taking a first step or saying a first word may not be as easy. That’s because CP is a condition that can affect the things that kids do every day.

Some kids with CP use wheelchairs and others walk with the help of crutches or braces. In some cases, a kid’s speech may be affected or the person might not be able to speak at all.

Cerebral palsy (say: seh-REE-brel PAWL-zee) is a condition that affects thousands of babies and children each year. It is not contagious, which means you can’t catch it from anyone who has it. The word cerebral means having to do with the brain. The word palsy means a weakness or problem in the way a person moves or positions his or her body.

A kid with CP has trouble controlling the muscles of the body. Normally, the brain tells the rest of the body exactly what to do and when to do it. But because CP affects the brain, depending on what part of the brain is affected, a kid might not be able to walk, talk, eat, or play the way most kids do.

There are three types of cerebral palsy: spastic (say: SPASS-tik), athetoid (say: ATH-uh-toid), and ataxic (say: ay-TAK-sik). The most common type of CP is spastic. A kid with spastic CP can’t relax his or her muscles or the muscles may be stiff.

Athetoid CP affects a kid’s ability to control the muscles of the body. This means that the arms or legs that are affected by athetoid CP may flutter and move suddenly. A kid with ataxic CP has problems with balance and coordination.

A kid with CP can have a mild case or a more severe case it really depends on how much of the brain is affected and which parts of the body that section of the brain controls. If both arms and both legs are affected, a kid might need to use a wheelchair. If only the legs are affected, a kid might walk in an unsteady way or have to wear braces or use crutches. If the part of the brain that controls speech is affected, a kid with CP might have trouble talking clearly. Another kid with CP might not be able to speak at all.

For some babies, injuries to the brain during pregnancy or soon after birth may cause CP. Children most at risk of developing CP are small, premature babies (babies who are born many weeks before they were supposed to be born) and babies who need to be on a ventilator (a machine to help with breathing) for several weeks or longer.

But for most kids with CP, the problem in the brain happens before birth. Often, doctors don’t know why.

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Cerebral Palsy – OrthoInfo – AAOS

Posted: December 15, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Individuals who have cerebral palsy often need help from their families and medical specialists throughout their lives. Many types of healthcare professionals are involved in treating those with CP. Depending upon the type of CP your child has, as well as any additional impairments, the medical treatment team may include:

Physical therapy. Physical therapy may be recommended shortly after the diagnosis is made in order to help your child learn skills such as sitting, walking, or using a wheelchair. It also may help improve muscle strength, balance, and coordination, as well as prevent muscles from becoming too tight. Physical therapy may involve fun activities to tone muscles, like swimming and horseback riding.

Braces, splints, and casts. Using braces, splints, or casts may improve range of motion in joints and joint stability, prevent contracture, and improve hand or leg function. Braces can compensate for muscle imbalance.

Botox. This drug can be injected into spastic muscles to loosen them. It is especially helpful for children younger than 5 years old, and when used in combination with casting.

Medication. Some medications that your doctor may prescribe can control or prevent seizures or muscle spasms, ease muscle stiffness, or reduce abnormal movements.

If contractures are severe, surgery to lengthen affected muscles can improve a child’s ability to move and walk. This surgery may also help if tightly contracted muscles cause stress to joints and lead to deformities or dislocations.

Some children with CP need surgery to correctly position their arms or legs, or to correct curvature of the spine (scoliosis).

Severe spasticity and muscle stiffness may be helped with an intrathecal baclofen pump. In this procedure, a small pump is surgically implanted under the skin to deliver doses of a muscle relaxant.

If other treatments cannot effectively manage severe spasticity, your doctor may recommend selective dorsal rhizotomy. During this surgery of the spine, specific nerves that control spastic muscles are cut to help the muscles relax, as well as to relieve associated pain. This particular type of surgery is done infrequently.

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Cerebral Palsy-Topic Overview – WebMD

Posted: December 14, 2017 at 1:45 pm

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a group of problems that affect body movement and posture. It is related to a brain injury or to problems with brain development. It is one of the most common causes of lasting disability in children.

Cerebral palsy causes reflex movements that a person can’t control and muscle tightness that may affect parts or all of the body. These problems can range from mild to severe. Intellectual disability, seizures, and vision and hearing problems can occur.

Cerebral palsy is caused by a brain injury or problem that occurs during pregnancy or birth or within the first 2 to 3 years of a child’s life. It can be caused by:

In many cases, the exact cause of cerebral palsy is not known.

Everyone with cerebral palsy has problems with body movement and posture. But the physical problems are worse for some people than for others.

Some people who have cerebral palsy have a slight limp or a hard time walking. Other people have little or no control over their arms and legs or other parts of the body, such as the mouth and tongue, which can cause problems with eating and speaking. People who have severe forms of cerebral palsy are more likely to have other problems, such as seizures or intellectual disability.

Babies with severe cerebral palsy often have problems with their posture. Their bodies may be either very floppy or very stiff. Birth defects sometimes occur along with cerebral palsy. Examples of birth defects include a spine that doesn’t have the normal shape, a small jawbone, or a small head.

The brain injury or problem that causes cerebral palsy doesn’t get worse over time. But new symptoms may appear, or symptoms may change or get worse as your child gets older. This is why some babies born with cerebral palsy don’t show clear signs of it right away.

Your child’s doctor will do a physical exam and ask you about your child’s medical history. He or she will ask about your child’s growth and about any problems you may have noticed. The doctor may also ask about your child’s development.

Tests, such as a CT scan or an MRI of your child’s head, may also be done. Or the doctor may look at ultrasound pictures of the brain. These tests can sometimes help the doctor find the cause of cerebral palsy.

If your child has a severe form of cerebral palsy, a doctor may be able to pinpoint the problem within the first few weeks of your child’s life. But parents are often the first to notice that their baby does not have the abilities and skills that are common in other children in the same age group. These developmental delays can be early signs of cerebral palsy.

Even when the condition is present at birth, the signs of cerebral palsy may not be noticed until a child is 1 to 3 years old.

Even though cerebral palsy can’t be cured, you and your child can do things to help deal with symptoms, prevent problems, and make the most of your child’s abilities. Physical therapy is one of the most important treatments. Medicines, surgery, and special equipment such as a walker can also help.

Meeting the daily needs of a family member with cerebral palsy isn’t easy. If your child has cerebral palsy, seek family and community support. It may help to join a support group or talk with other parents who have a child with special needs, so you don’t feel alone.

You may also find counseling useful. It may help you understand and deal with the wide range of emotions you may feel. Your child will need help too. Providing emotional support for your child can help him or her cope with having cerebral palsy.

Learning that your child has cerebral palsy isn’t easy, and raising a child who has it can be hard. But the more you know, the better you can care for and provide for your child.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

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Cerebral palsy – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

Posted: at 1:45 pm


Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by damage that occurs to the immature, developing brain, most often before birth.

Signs and symptoms appear during infancy or preschool years. In general, cerebral palsy causes impaired movement associated with abnormal reflexes, floppiness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, unsteady walking, or some combination of these.

People with cerebral palsy may have problems swallowing and commonly have eye muscle imbalance, in which the eyes don’t focus on the same object. People with cerebral palsy also may suffer reduced range of motion at various joints of their bodies due to muscle stiffness.

Cerebral palsy’s effect on functional abilities varies greatly. Some affected people can walk while others can’t. Some people show normal or near-normal intellectual capacity, but others may have intellectual disabilities. Epilepsy, blindness or deafness also may be present.

Signs and symptoms can vary greatly. Movement and coordination problems associated with cerebral palsy may include:

The disability associated with cerebral palsy may be limited primarily to one limb or one side of the body, or it may affect the whole body. The brain disorder causing cerebral palsy doesn’t change with time, so the symptoms usually don’t worsen with age. However, muscle shortening and muscle rigidity may worsen if not treated aggressively.

Brain abnormalities associated with cerebral palsy also may contribute to other neurological problems. People with cerebral palsy may also have:

It’s important to get a prompt diagnosis for any movement disorder or possible delays in your child’s development. See your child’s doctor if you have any questions or concerns about episodes of loss of awareness of surroundings or of abnormal bodily movements (also known as seizures), abnormal muscle tone, impaired coordination, swallowing difficulties, eye muscle imbalance, or other developmental issues.

Cerebral palsy is caused by an abnormality or disruption in brain development, usually before a child is born. In many cases, the exact trigger isn’t known. Factors that may lead to problems with brain development include:

A number of factors are associated with an increased risk of cerebral palsy.

Certain infections or health problems during pregnancy can significantly increase cerebral palsy risk to the baby. Infections of particular concern include:

Illnesses in a newborn baby that can greatly increase the risk of cerebral palsy include:

While the potential contribution from each is limited, additional pregnancy or birth factors associated with increased cerebral palsy risk include:

Muscle weakness, muscle spasticity and coordination problems can contribute to a number of complications either during childhood or later during adulthood, including:

Most cases of cerebral palsy can’t be prevented, but you can lessen risks. If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you can take these steps to keep healthy and minimize pregnancy complications:

Aug. 25, 2016

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