Do you feel that your child may have cerebral palsy? Are you in the dark in terms of dealing with the situation?
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects people’s motor skills, muscle tone, and movement. In some cases, it also affects the basic functions of the body. These include breathing, eating, and speaking.
Around 8,000 babies and infants suffer from cerebral palsy each year. Moreover, around 500,000 children and adults in the United States show at least one symptom.
The key to addressing the issue is recognizing the signs of cerebral palsy. So what are the things you should look out for? Is there a way to cure or reverse the disease?
Check out our in-depth analysis of the signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy below.
Detecting Symptoms Early
It is a sad fact that there is no known cure for cerebral palsy. However, there are ways to help patients cope with their condition.
But everything starts with understanding the signs of cerebral palsy. Since early detection is the key, let us take a closer look at some of the top signs and symptoms of the disorder.
One of the chief symptoms you need to look out for is the developmental delays of the baby. When we talk about child development, there are milestones that children reach at certain points in time. When they fail to reach these milestones, parents must take a closer look at the possibility of their child having cerebral palsy.
Infants who are younger than 6 months old may have cerebral palsy if they cannot hold up their head when people pick them up from a lying position. The same thing goes if their legs cross or stiffen when people pick them up.
Some infants also overextend their neck and back.
By the 6th to 10 months of life, infants with cerebral palsy cannot roll over. They also have a hard time bringing their hands to their mouth. Moreover, they struggle to bring both their hands together.
Once they go past the 10th month, they may start crawling, though in a lopsided manner. They also cannot stand up even if there is support.
Poor Reflexes and Posture
A child with cerebral palsy will likely showcase poor reflexes. There is hyperreflexia, which pertains to twitching and spasticity.
Common primitive reflexes may not function properly. Children may extend their legs whenever they turn their head. When they extend their head, they may assume a crawling position.
When they tilt their head back, their legs may straighten while their arms may bend.
Furthermore, infants with cerebral palsy will have asymmetrical posture. This means that their left and right limbs will not mirror each other. One of their legs may bend inward while the other will bend outward.
They will also have a hard time balancing their body. This becomes evident once the baby starts to sit on his own. He will struggle when rising from a sitting position.
He may also stumble whenever he attempts to crawl or walk.
Another thing to look out for is the neurological symptoms. These are signs that affect other functions of the body outside the control of motor function.
Neurological symptoms in cerebral palsy patients vary. The symptoms depend on the location of the injury in the brain. Some of the most common neurological symptoms include learning disorders, behavioral problems, and speech and language challenges.
Other patients experience epilepsy and seizures. Others suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Others will experience visual and hearing impairments.
Apart from the main symptoms we discussed above, you should also look out for secondary signs. These signs are effects of the child’s problems of controlling his motor function.
These signs include drooling, incontinence, and stunted growth. The child may also experience sleeping disorders, constipation, airway obstruction, and incontinence. A child may experience a combination of these symptoms.
What You Can Do
As a parent, there is not much you can do as far as curing cerebral palsy goes. But there are a lot of ways to help your child or loved one cope with the challenges of the disorder.
Cerebral palsy stems from brain damage that takes place during labor and delivery. In some cases, poor management during labor causes brain damage. This prompts some parents to consider hiring a cerebral palsy attorney.
But if there is no sign of medical malpractice, you should focus your attention on providing ample care and attention to your child.
Once you see the early symptoms of cerebral palsy, you need to get a proper diagnosis. The pediatrician will conduct a series of tests to evaluate the signs and symptoms. He will also review your child’s medical history to come up with a comprehensive diagnosis.
The doctor may also require cranial ultrasound. This will help perform a preliminary assessment of the child. It is also the more affordable route to take.
In some cases, the doctor may require magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The MRI will yield 3D images of the child’s brain. It will help pinpoint the presence of abnormalities and lesions on the brain.
Since cerebral palsy stems from brain damage, mothers should make sure they get all the vaccines they need. Make sure that you get vaccines against rubella. This disease causes an infection that may lead to brain damage during the fetal stage.
Last but not least, you should consider giving your child long-term care. This involves working with a team of medical experts. You may need to hire a physical therapist who can help improve your child’s strength and walking skills.
You may also need the help of a speech-language pathologist. This expert can help your child if the latter is struggling to speak.
Detect and Treat the Signs of Cerebral Palsy!
Knowing the signs of cerebral palsy is the first step to dealing with the problem. Once you understand the symptoms, you will have a better grasp of the next steps to take.
The same thing goes for other kinds of health concerns. We invite you to check our different articles on health and wellness. We discuss topics that educate patients on how to deal with their conditions the right way.