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Cerebral Palsy
    Brianna Shaw, MSP
  • on Feb 13, 2019 |

Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects movement, posture, and muscle tone. It is caused by damage that occurred to the immature, developing brain before birth. Cerebral palsy causes impaired movement that is associated with abnormal reflexes, involuntary movements, and unsteady walking.

The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy often appear during infancy or preschool years. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Too stiff or too floppy muscle tone
  • Exaggerated reflexes
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Involuntary movements or tremors
  • Delays in motor skills
  • Difficulty walking
  • Excessive drooling or problems swallowing
  • Difficulty sucking or eating
  • Delays in speech development/ difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty picking things up
  • Seizures
  • Hearing and vision problems
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Abnormal pain perceptions
  • Oral diseases
  • Mental health problems
  • Urinary incontinence

Cerebral palsy is caused by an abnormality or disruption in brain development, often before the child is born. The factors that may lead to problems with brain development include:

  • Lack of oxygen during labour or from the cord being around the baby’s neck
  • Mutations of genes that lead to abnormal brain development
  • Traumatic head injury that causes inflammation of the brain
  • Maternal infections that can affect the development of the baby
  • Infant infections that cause inflammation of the brain
  • Infant stroke (lack of blood supply to the brain)

Treatments for cerebral palsy include a variety of doctors and specialists to diagnose and set up a long-term treatment plan for the patient, physical therapy, speech therapy, special education, medications to lessen the tightness of muscles and improve function and pain. Surgery could be needed to treat muscle tightness or correct bone abnormalities.

Most times cerebral palsy can’t be prevented, but there are ways that can lessen the risks. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, keep these steps in mind so you can minimize pregnancy complication and you and your baby can be healthy.

  • Make sure you are vaccinated against diseases that can cause infections
  • Prevent head injuries by always using a proper car seat, safety rails on beds, and proper supervision
  • Take care of yourself and make sure you are healthy going into your pregnancy, you will be less likely to get infections that lead to cerebral palsy
  • Seek regular prenatal care with your doctor during your pregnancy