Management of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is often misunderstood because it involves a lot of illnesses. It is a group of disorders that results from injury to the brain of a child before, during or after birth and leads to problems with movement and muscle control, balance and posture. Such injury could be a result of bacterial and viral infections like meningitis, bleeding in the cerebrum (hemorrhaging), head wounds that occurred during birth or in the early stages of pregnancy. 

Mercury poisoning from fish, prenatal exposure to medications and alcohol, toxoplasmosis from half-cooked meat are also Conditions that might have affected the mother and cause cerebral palsy in the child; in addition to the absence of oxygen to the cerebrum previously, during, or after birth (asphyxia) 

 

CP is more common among boys than girls, and more common among black children than among white children. (CDC, 2021). It is usually diagnosed between a child’s first and second years of age except in cases with mild symptoms where diagnosis occurs in later years

 

Early Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy 

 

From birth to age 5, a kid should reach development goals―also referred to as milestones―such as turning over, sitting up, standing, and strolling. Slowness in arriving at these development achievements could be an indication of CP. Note that a few children without CP may have a portion of these signs. Here are some indications of possible CP:

 

In a child 3-6 months old: 

  • Head falls back when carried up while lying on back 
  • Feels stiff and floppy 
  • Appears to overextend back and neck when supported in a person’s arms 
  • Legs get stiff and cross or scissor when picked up 

 

In a child older than 6 months: 

  • Doesn’t roll over 
  • Can’t bring hands together 
  • Experiences difficulty in carrying hands to mouth 
  • Reaches with just one hand while keeping the other fisted 

 

In a baby above 10 months of age: 

  • Crawls in a lopsided manner, pushing off with one hand and leg while dragging the  hand and leg 
  • Scoots around on buttocks or hops on knees,  doesn’t crawl on all fours

 

Co-occurring conditions

The majority (95%) of individuals with CP have at least one additional disorder, with 36% of individuals with CP having at least one disorder within all the three categories of medical, neurological, and mental/behavioral disorders.

The most common disorders within the neurological and mental/behavioral disorder categories are cocausal, i.e. caused by the same injury to the developing brain that caused CP( Hollung et al., 2019). Seizures hydrocephalus Gastrointestinal problems intellectual disabilities Dental issues and urinary infections.

 

Managing A Child With Cerebral Palsy

It could be helpful to join support groups and forums of people with similar challenges when managing a child with cerebral palsy. Several books also offer suggestions on the best way to manage cerebral palsy. There also exists some devices that enable motion and posture in affected children which include aids for communication, hearing, vision, writing/typing, and daily tasks. These devices help children to live more independently to prepare them for adulthood

 

Caregiver Support Tips

  • Educate Yourself:  soak in information at your own pace and be sure to understand things you learn. Also, stay informed of new developments and treatment procedures or financial support
  • Get  Active Help your child move as much as possible to develop some muscle groups 
  • Stay Healthy Incorporating nutrients into your child’s diet is important as children with CP experience gastrointestinal problems in addition to poor motor skills

get organized 

 

Cerebral Palsy Treatment Plans

 

Before any treatment courses are embarked upon, it is important to consider the effects of the treatment on the child. Some treatments are stressful and uncomfortable and do not benefit the child physically or emotionally. It is also important to consider the cost of treatment as well as the feelings of the child. 

 

Physical Therapy is done with a physiotherapist and includes routines to improve balance posture and mobility by first accessing their motor skills and deciding on a treatment plan. 

 

Occupational Therapy includes routines that help a child perform daily tasks such as combing the hair, brushing teeth, picking up things easily. It also involves a playful exercise to keep them interested 

 

Speech Therapy: Due to brain damage, speech might be hard for people living with cerebral palsy. Therapy helps them communicate better and also improves their ability to chew which in turn helps with their nutrition.

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