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Cerebral Palsy

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders characterized by loss of movement or loss of other nerve functions. Cerebral palsy disorders are caused by injuries to the brain that occur during fetal development or near the time of birth. Infants born premature have a slightly higher incidence of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy may also occur during early infancy as a result of cerebral injury caused by illnesses (encephalitis, meningitis, herpes simplex infections, and so on), head injury that results in subdural hematoma, blood vessel injuries, and many others.

What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy results from injury to the cerebrum. The cerebrum is the largest portion of the brain and is involved with higher mental faculties, sensations, and voluntary muscle activities.

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

There are many symptoms and not everyone will experience all of the symptoms. Symptoms are usually apparent before age 2 and in severe cases may appear as early as three months.

The most common symptoms of cerebral palsy include:

  • seizures
  • muscle contractions
  • difficulty sucking or feeding
  • irregular breathing
  • delayed development of motor skills, such as reaching, sitting, rolling, crawling, walking
  • motormental retardation
  • mental retardation
  • speech abnormalities (dysarthria)
  • visual abnormalities
  • hearing abnormalities
  • spasticity
  • progressive joint contractures
  • limited range of motion
  • peg teeth

Symptoms resulting from cerebral palsy do not worsen.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

There are three main types of Cerebral Palsy. They are: spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, and mixed cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy occurs the most. It occurs in about 50% of cases. Dyskinetic (athetoid) cerebral palsy affects about 20%. It involves development of abnormal movements (twisting, jerking, or other movements). Ataxic cerebral palsy involves tremors, unsteady gait, loss of coordination, and abnormal movements. It affects about 10%. The remaining 20% are classified as mixed, with any combination of symptoms.

Complications of Cerebral Palsy

Some complications of cerebral palsy are: seizures, injuries from falls, reduced mobility, reduced communication skills, and reduced intellect.

Can Cerebral Palsy be Prevented?

Adequate prenatal care may reduce the risk of the unborn baby developing some rare causes of cerebral palsy. However, in most cases, the injury causing cerebral palsy may not be preventable.

Cerebral Palsy Statistics

  • Cerebral palsy affects approximately 2 to 4 individuals for every 1000 births.

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