Cerebral palsy is a generic term for a group of disorders, affecting movement, balance and future. It is the result of an abnormal brain damage or a brain injury occurred in the early stages of a person's life. It is the most common type of movement disorder among children in the United States, around 800,000 people suffering from it.
Symptoms of the disorder
The symptoms of cerebral palsy are various. The exact problems each affected individual will face depend on the area of the brain that has been damaged and the severity of the injury. Symptoms can be mild or severe; they can affect only one or both sides of the body, only the legs or only the arms.
Even if a child is born with the disorder, which happens in around 70% of the cases, the symptoms will not be visible until the age of three months or more. However by the age of 5 years all patients can be diagnosed.
The most common signs of the condition include the following:
• The ability to hold his head when picked up in the first couple of months of life
• Using only one hand to reach and hold objects
• Using only one side of the body when trying to crawl
• The ability to stand without support
• Abnormally toned muscles
• Difficulty walking
• Problems with coordination and balance
• The ability to perform precise moves like writing
• Difficulty speaking
• Learning disabilities
• Mental retardation
There are a series of conditions that can lead to the development of cerebral palsy, however often it is impossible to determine the exact cause. Genetic structure, congenital abnormalities and medical malpractice can all be blamed. Some of the leading causes include:
• Infections, toxicity, high fever and high blood pressure in the mother
• Rh blood intolerance between mother and fetus
• Lack of oxygen in the baby's brain, before or during birth
• Completed umbilical cord
• Premature birth or multiple births
• Low body weight at birth
• A too fast or too slow delivery, resulting in rapid pressure changes
• The failure to promptly perform a cesarean section when needed
• The excessive use of vacuum extraction or the misuse of forceps
As we can see, many risk factors can be eliminated by proper diagnose and treatment. Both mothers and medical personnel are advised to consider risk factors with maximum seriousness, because cerebral palsy is a permanent disability, which can not be cured and treatment costs are overwhelming.