General

Article on CP by a Parent

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects 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. It can range from mild to severe. Intellectual disability, seizures, and vision and hearing problems can occur in CP.

CP 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:

  • Problems from being born too early (premature birth).
  • Not getting enough blood, oxygen, or other nutrients before or during birth.
  • A serious head injury.
  • A serious infection that can affect the brain, such as meningitis.
  • Some problems passed from parent to child (genetic conditions) that affect brain development.

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

The brain damage that causes CP also can affect other brain functions and lead to additional medical issues, such as:

  • visual impairment or blindness
  • hearing loss
  • food aspiration (the sucking of food or fluid into the lungs)
  • gastroesophageal reflux (spitting up)
  • speech problems
  • drooling
  • tooth decay
  • sleep disorders
  • osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones)
  • behaviour problems

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

Some people who have CP 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 CP are more likely to have other problems, such as seizures or intellectual disability.

Babies with severe CP 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 CP doesn’t get worse over time. But new symptoms may appear, or symptoms may change or get worse as your child gets older. There are some signs that may indicate a child has CP. Not all signs are visible at birth and may become more obvious as babies develop. Even when the condition is present at birth, the signs of CP may not be noticed until a child is 1 to 3 years old. Seizures, speech and communication problems, and intellectual disabilities are more common among children with CP.

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.

Cerebral palsy is the leading cause of chronic disability in children, making them physically and mentally handicapped and socially aloof. The worldwide incidence of CP is approximately 2 to 2.5 cases per 1000 live births. In India, it is estimated at around 3 cases per 1000 live births; however, being a developing country the actual figure may be much higher than probable figures. There are about 25 lakh CP children in India as per the last statistical information.

Even though there’s no cure for CP, a variety of resources and therapies can provide help and improve the quality of life for kids with CP.

Physical therapy is one of the most important treatments. As soon as CP is diagnosed, a child can begin therapy for movement, and other areas that need help, such as learning, speech, hearing, and social and emotional development. Medicines, surgery, and special equipment such as a walker can also help.

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