Cerebral palsy consists of a group of disorders which affect the ability of someone to maintain their balance keep their posture, or move. It is the most common motor disability that affects children. Even though it has the term “cerebral” in it, there isn’t anything actually wrong with the mind. This motor disability refers to having a weakness or problem while using the muscles. All people who have CP have some form of difficult, ranging from mild to severe. These important facts will help you get to know the people first by understanding more about their condition.
1. CP Has Four Different Types
The type of cerebral palsy that someone has is classified according to the type of movement disorder that afflicts them. This might involve having stiff muscles, movements that are uncontrollable, or having poor coordination and balance. Someone with cerebral palsy might have a spastic version of the disorder, a dyskinetic version, ataxic, or a mixed version that includes components of more than one movement issue.
2. Spastic CP Is the Most Common
This spastic version of cerebral palsy affects about 80% of the people who have this disorder. This makes it the most common type of CP and it is usually described by the body parts that it is affecting. It may cause stiffness in the legs primarily, affect only one side of the body, just the arms, or all of the limbs and even the face.
The spastic quadriplegia or quadriparesis version of cerebral palsy is the most severe form of this type of the disability. People who have this version typically have numerous developmental disability, may have issues with their senses, and often have seizures. They may also be unable to walk at all.
3. Dyskinetic CP Creates Jerky Movements
People with this form of cerebral palsy struggle to control their movements. They will have varying degrees of uncontrollable limb movements that can make it look like they are writhing in pain. Sometimes these movements can be slow and rhythmic, while at other times it might be rapid and all over the place. The tongue can also be affected and a person’s muscle tone with this version of CP can actually change over the course of a day.
4. Ataxic CP Involves a Lack of Balance
For those with the ataxic version of cerebral palsy, their primary struggle is with their balance and fine motor skills. They may be unable to walk without assistance or hold something without dropping it involuntarily. Holding a pen to write something down might be a virtually impossible task to complete. People with this version of CP are usually the most independent of those diagnosed with this motor disability.
5. CP Can Be Diagnosed Early On
Because the symptoms and signs of cerebral palsy can vary greatly between people, watching how a child develops can lead to an early diagnosis and treatment plan. Parents might notice that their child is not achieving the normal movement and motor milestones as they prepare for their well-child appointments. Standing, sitting up, or even rolling over may be greatly delayed in children with this disability. A child who feels stiff or floppy, has a head that lags when picked up after lying on their back, or feels like they are always trying to push away from you could be exhibiting the signs of CP under the age of 6 months.
After the 6 month age milestone, lagging behind in motor and movement skills, especially with a refusal to crawl, could be an indicator of CP. It is important to note that the signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy can also occur in children who do not have this disability at all.
6. Most CP Is Congenital
The reason why cerebral palsy exists is because the brain has been affected in some way that it no longer processes the movement and balance the way that it should. Up to 90% of the cases of CP are considered to be congenital, or happening before or during the birthing process. Many times the reason behind the development of CP is unknown.
A rare form of cerebral palsy occurs when an infection occurs after a child reaches the 1 month mark. Injuries or an infection, like meningitis, can create lifelong cerebral palsy. This is considered an acquired version of the disability.
Although any high risk pregnancy has the possibility of CP with it, as does any pregnancy to some extent, children that are born with a low birth weight have a 100x greater risk of developing cerebral palsy than children who have a normal birthweight.
7. CP Can Often Be Preventable
Although some of the reasons behind the development of cerebral palsy are unknown and some cases occur because of an Rh incompatibility, many of the issues behind this disability formation are preventable. Jaundice, an infection during the pregnancy, trauma during birth, or a lack of oxygen are all believed to contribute to the formation of CP. Because of this, some believe that CP may occur because of medical negligence in a majority of the cases that occur.
8. Medical Errors Can Cause CP
If there are problems with a birth, the medical team will intervene to save the life of the mother and the child. During this intervention, it is not uncommon to create conditions that can create a lifetime of CP for the child due to a medical error. Even a regular birth can create CP if errors are made. For this reasons, doctors have started moving away from tools, such as forceps, that may unintentionally cause damage to the brain as the child is being born.
9. There Isn’t a Cure… Yet
Cerebral palsy can be treated right now with modern medical science, but there is not currently a cure available. The goal is to help caregivers manage the condition so that children are able to reach their full potential and live a fulfilling life. Braces, surgeries, and physical therapy are all common methods to help treat the disorder. These treatments can get to be quite expensive. The average lifetime cost of treating someone with CP is $1 million.