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Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy affects approximately

800,000 children adults in the United


BASICS

This first set of tips will go over some of

the basics of cerebral palsy.

1. Definition

Cerebral palsy is a chronic condition that affects body

movements and muscle coordination. It is caused by

damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually

occurring during fetal development, or during infancy.

2. History

Cerebral palsy was considered a distinct condition in 1861.

Dr. William John Little, published the first paper describing

the neurological problems of children with spastic diplegia

(also known as cerebral palsy). This is still sometimes

called Little's Disease.

3. Statistics

Two children out of every thousand born in America have

cerebral palsy. At least 5000 infants and toddlers and about

1,400 preschoolers are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each

year.

TYPES OF CEREBRAL PALSY

There are 4 types of cerebral palsy. This

next set of tips will discuss these types, and

their differences.

4. Spastic

Spastic cerebral palsy is characterized by stiff or

permanently contracted muscles. 70-80 percent of people

with CP have this type.

5. Athetoid

Athetoid cerebral palsy is characterized by uncontrolled,

slow movements. 10-20 percent of people have this type of

CP.

6. Ataxic

Ataxic CP is characterized by a lack of coordination and

balance. This type of CP accounts for 10 percent of all

cases of CP. Ataxic CP (or any kind of CP) is not

degenerative.

7. Mixed

Mixed CP is when one person has two or more types of CP.

The most common type of mixed CP is Athetoid/Spasticdiplegic

or Athetoid/Spastic-hemiplegic.

DIAGNOSIS

This next set of tips will discuss how

cerebral palsy is diagnosed.

8. Symptoms

Diagnosing children with CP at a young age is important. Here are

some of the symptoms to look for in a newborn child:

• Lack of alertness

• Abnormal cry

• Trembling arms and legs

• Problems sucking and swallowing

• Weak muscle tone

• Favoring one side of the body

• Abnormal reflexes

• Seizures

9. Muscle Tone

Abnormal muscle tone is very common in people with

cerebral palsy. Even as newborns, their muscles may

change from low tone to high tone. They can also go from

floppy to very stiff.

10. Developmental Delays

If you’re concerned that your child may have cerebral

palsy, look for developmental delays such as:

• Rolling over

• Sitting up

• Crawling

• Talking

• Walking

11. Time

Understand that it takes time to diagnose cerebral palsy,

especially specifying the type of CP. If it’s for a child, his

doctor will want to take time to do tests and examine him

several times before making the diagnosis.

RISK FACTORS

There are several factors that put you

at risk of having a child with cerebral

palsy. This next set of tips will explain

a few of these risks.

12. Age and Race

According to research, the following people have a higher

chance of having a child with CP:

• A mother or a father under 20 years old

• A mother over 40 years old

• African-American ethnicity

13. Blood Type

There is a rare circumstance where the mom’s and child’s

blood is incompatible. This is called Rh or ABO blood type

incompatibility, and it puts you at risk of having a child

with cerebral palsy.

14. Micro-Organisms

In rare cases, your infant’s central nervous system can be

attacked by micro-organisms. This will put him at high risk

of developing cerebral palsy.

15. Doctor Error

Unfortunately, there are some cases of cerebral palsy

where the doctor was at fault. There are now a ton of

lawyers that are dedicated to bringing these doctors to

justice. If you think a doctor was at fault for your child’s

CP, you can contact www.cerebralpalsy.ws to talk to an

attorney.

16. Other Factors

Here are some of the other risk factors associated with CP:

• Bleeding in the brain

• Infection

• Lack of oxygen

CAUSES

This next set of tips will talk about some

of the causes of cerebral palsy.

17. Pregnancy

There are a number of things that can happen during

pregnancy that can cause your baby to have CP. Some of

these include you getting sick, getting in an accident, or

developing an infection.

18. Lack of Oxygen

Lack of oxygen at birth is a common cause of cerebral palsy

in children. An adult could also develop CP if he for some

reason is deprived of oxygen.

19. Trauma

Any trauma in a child or an adult can cause cerebral palsy.

These can include:

• Car accident

• Head Injury

• Stroke

20. Infection

Brain infection can cause CP. These infections include:

• Meningitis

• Viral encephalitis

TREATMENTS

There are several ways to

treat cerebral palsy, along

with ways to make coping

easier. This next set of tips

will discuss some of these

treatments.

21. Exercise

Exercise can be a great benefit for people with cerebral

palsy. These exercises need to be tailored for each person,

as everyone has their limitations. Ask your doctor or

therapist for his advice before starting any exercise

program.

22. Chiropractic

Some people with CP have found great success with

chiropractors. Make sure you research and find a

chiropractor that has experience with cerebral palsy.

23. Electrical Stimulation

Another thing that helps people with cerebral palsy is

Therapeutic Electrical Stimulation (TES). This is done at

night while the patient sleeps. TES has been proven to add

more muscle fiber, and along with exercise and therapy, it

helps the patient have better use of his muscles.

24. Swimming

Swimming has helped lots of people with CP. Warm water

especially helps stiff muscles to relax. Performing

swimming motions also increases muscle tone and strength.

25. Feldenkrais

The Feldenkrais method for cerebral palsy designed to

retrain the body and mind. This method uses a combination

of physical therapy, psychology, and martial arts to retrain

the mind, and develop movement and physical growth.

26. Adaptive Equipment

Special equipment is also available for children with

cerebral palsy. Some of these include:

• Wheelchair

• Walker

• Leg braces

• Special Utensils

• Communication aides

THERAPIES

Therapy has done a lot for people

(especially children) with cerebral palsy.

This next set of tips will discuss some of

these therapies.

27. Physical

Physical therapy helps a child with CP develop stronger

muscles in their legs and trunk. During physical therapy,

your child works on things like walking, sitting, and keeping

his or her balance.

28. Occupational

Occupational therapy helps a person with CP develop fine

motor skills, in order to function in everyday life. These

skills can be things like dressing, feeding, writing, and

other daily living tasks.

29. Speech

People with cerebral palsy often have speech delays. Many

times talking is difficult because of problems with muscle

tone in the tongue and throat. Speech therapy helps

develop communication skills, especially speaking.

30. Sensory Integration

Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT) helps to overcome

problems young children with CP have in absorbing and

processing sensory information. SIT Therapies include

stimulating touch sensations and pressures on different

parts of the body, thus motivating children to learn

sequences of movements.

31. HBOT

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) treatments have seen

some great success in people with cerebral palsy. During

HBOT, the patient enters a tank, and the patient breathes

100% oxygen under pressure (normal outside air usually

only contains about 20% oxygen). This type of therapy

infuses oxygen into the blood and organs, thus a

regenerates and enhances certain tissues, organs, and bone

structures.

32. Hippotherapy

Hippotherapy is therapy treatment that uses horseback

riding to provide activities that can significantly improve

muscle tone, posture, balance, and walking abilities. The

horse's movement gives a sense of rhythm to the rider as

well as forces the rider to move with the horse.

33. Craniosacral

Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a treatment involving

massage and the brain and spinal cord. A trained

craniosacral therapist can detect abnormalities, and by

applying pressures to certain parts of the body, it can be

very healing.

34. Dolphin

Dolphin therapy has been around for more than 25 years.

Research shows that dolphins are able to recognize the

child's deficiency, thus allowing them to connect to the

child. This results in healing that can lead to

developmental progress.

35. Space Suit

Space suit therapy is another therapy for children and

adults with cerebral palsy. It provides the following

benefits:

• Supports weak muscles

• Improves muscle tone

• Improves balance

• Improves gross motor skills

MEDICATIONS

There are several medications that help

with cerebral palsy. This next set of tips

will go over some of these medications.

36. Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants have seen much success in patients with

cerebral palsy. Some of these include:

• Diazepam (Valium)

• Baclofen

• Dantrolene

37. Anticonvulsants

Anticonvulsant medications help with seizures, which are

very common in CP patients. Examples of anticonvulsants

include:

• Lamictal

• Topomax

• Zonegran

• Trileptal

• Neurontin

38. Anticholinergics

Anticholinergics help some of people with CP who have

more severe uncontrollable body movements, or who drool

frequently. These medications include:

• Cogentin

• Robinul

• Kemadrin

39. Dopaminergic

Dopaminergic drugs affect motor function in the hands,

feet, and other parts of the body. Here are a couple of

examples:

• Artane

• Sinemet

SURGERIES

In some cases, a person may require

surgery. This next set of tips will explain

some of these surgeries.

40. SDR

One of the treatments for cerebral palsy is Selective Dorsal

Rhizotomy (SDR). SDR provided permanent reduction of

spasticity in cerebral palsy. The operation consists of

cutting the dorsal roots in the spine. This results in

reducing spasticity.

41. Tenotomony

Tenotomy is a procedure of cutting an affected tendon or

muscle. Tenotomy is used to treat spasticity in cerebral

palsy patients. This surgery helps in serious cases of

cerebral palsy where the possibility of further damage is a

big possibility.

42. Botox

Botox A injections are types of surgeries given to cerebral

palsy patients. These injections can be effective in calming

overactive muscles. These injections especially help with

muscles in the upper body, arms, legs, and “tiptoe

walking,” which is common with and leg spasticity.

43. Heel Cord

A lot of times, children with cerebral palsy walk on their

toes. This is because of tight heel cords. Surgery can help

correct it by lengthening the tendon. It can also help the

patient to better learn to walk, and to improve balance.

TIPS FOR PARENTS

This last set of tips will go over some

things that parents of children with CP

can do to give you both a better quality

of life.

44. Research

Do your research. New treatments are being discovered

every day to help children with cerebral palsy. Use the

internet to keep yourself abreast of new options that

become available.

45. Have Fun

Have fun with your child. Do all the things you would do

with a non-disabled child. It’s important that he has all the

childhood experiences that he can.

46. Hope

Always have hope. Don’t let you or your child get

discouraged. When new problems arise, try and deal with

them head on.

47. Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Taking care of a child with

a disability can be very challenging and sometimes

draining. Reach out to family, friends, and neighbors for

help and respite.

48. Learn to Adapt

Help your child learn to adapt to his disability. Get

creative, and help him to be as independent as he can. This

will boost his self esteem, and make him try even harder.

49. Don’t Push

It’s important not to push your child. Let him go at his own

pace, which will probably vary as he grows. It’s also

important to let him know you support him, no matter

what.

50. Don’t Make CP Your Life

While research, doctor visits, therapy are all important,

don’t let CP define you or your child’s life. Have “normal”

days where you just let him be a kid.

51. Set Goals

Though you shouldn’t push your child, it is important to set

goals. When he’s old enough, sit down with him and set

some very reachable goals. Then be sure to celebrate every

achievement with him.

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