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What is Cerebral Palsy?​

Cerebral palsy, also known as CP, is a compendium of disorders that affect locomotion and coordination in the muscles. In most cases, bodily functions like hearing, feeling, and vision are affected. The word “cerebral” is related to the brain, while “palsy” refers to inability or disorder with bodily activity. Cerebral Palsy causes most motor disabilities in children. According to the CDC, CP affects between 2 to 4 out of every 1000 kids globally.

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Types of Cerebral Palsy

According to medical practitioners, cerebral palsy are of different types. These types are classified based on the brain parts they affect. The classification is centred around muscular conditions, body movements, and body balance. They are explained below.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

This is one of the most popular types of cerebral palsy. It accounts for over 75% of cerebral palsy cases. People with this type of CP have a high muscle tone. They experience stiffness in their muscles that rest to irregularities in their movements. SCP is defined by the body parts it affects.

Diparesis: 

This type of spastic cerebral palsy occurs as muscle stiffness in the legs. It barely affects the arms. People with this condition often have walking problems because tight leg and hip muscles make their legs contract, curve inwards, and form scissors at the knees.

Hemiparesis: 

People with this type of spastic cerebral palsy experience it on only one side of their body. Often, the arm is the affected part compared to the leg.

Quadriparesis: 

This condition is the most terrible of all forms of SCPs. It affects the trunk, face, and all four limbs. People with this condition are usually immobile and suffer other developmental disorders like intellectual impairment, impaired vision, speaking difficulties, seizure, or hearing difficulties.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

This type of CP includes conditions like dystonic CP, athetoid, and choreoatheoid. People with DCP experience difficulties controlling their arms, legs, hands, and feet. Thus, making it hard for them to walk and sit. They cannot control their movements. They can be slow and writhing or fast and jerky.

In some cases, the tongue and face are affected, thus, making the person have difficulties swallowing, sucking, and speaking. Research has it that people with DCP have unstable muscle tones, which means that the muscles can switch from being extremely loose to very tight. Also, these switches can happen in-between days or within a day.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

This type of cerebral palsy happens as a bodily imbalance and lack of coordination. People with this condition experience irregularities when they walk. They also find it difficult to make swift movements or movements that require control, like drawing. Many of them find it hard to control their arms and hands when they pick an object.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Mixed CP is a condition where a person experiences more than one kind of cerebral palsy. The most diagnosed kind of mixed cerebral palsy is spastic-dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Usually, the signs and symptoms of CP vary between people. It can affect one side of the body or affect a few limbs. In some cases, it affects the entire body. Some of its symptoms include:

  • Muscle tone variation
  • Delays in speech development
  • Learning difficulties
  • Bodily imbalance
  • Locomotive difficulties
  • One-sided body favouritism
  • Problems with fine motor skills
  • Situated growth
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal touch or pain sensations
  • Hearing difficulties
  • Mental disorders

Many children are born with cerebral palsy. However, they do not show signs of the condition until months or years later. Nonetheless, the symptoms emerge before they are 3 or 4 years old.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy happens when the brain undergoes an abnormal development, or a defect occurs in the brain during a normal developmental process. It often happens before childbirth. In some cases, it occurs during delivery or in early infancy. And some other times, the cause cannot be traced to anything. Some factors that lead to cerebral palsy include:

  • Genetic mutations that cause genetic irregularities or disparities in brain development.
  • Bleeding into the brain during pregnancy, childbirth, or immediately after childbirth.
  • Head injury to the newborn, like falls, motor accidents, or rough physical handling.
  • Maternal infections during pregnancy.
  • Fetal stroke that prevents blood flow to the brain or spine.
  • Newborn infections that result in inflammation around or in the brain.
  • Insufficient oxygen to the brain as a result of hard labour or delivery.

Is It a Learning Disability?

Although Cerebral palsy is not considered a learning disability, many people with the condition are subjected to learning problems. Explained below are some hardships they face in relation to learning disabilities.

Intellectual Disability

Studies reveal that 1 out of every two people with CP has an intellectual disability. At the same time, 1 out of 5 people experiences it moderately and severely. On a general note, the more a person has a physical impairment, the likelier they possess an intellectual disability. Although, some people have severe physical disabilities and do not possess any intellectual disability.

Learning Difficulties

Sometimes, children with cerebral palsy suffer from learning difficulties. These difficulties include language difficulties, motor planning difficulties like sequencing and coordination, short attention span, and perpetual difficulties. These difficulties can affect their numeracy, literacy, and many other learning skills. Their learning may also be impacted by difficulties in gross motor coordination and communication and fine motor coordination and communication. Children with CP need to work hard on concentrating on their motions and order of their activities.

Deafness

Research shows that 2 out of 40 people with CP have some degree of hearing impairment. 2 in 100 children with CP are deaf.

Blindness

Vision damage is often seen among people with CP. Children with severe cerebral palsy conditions have higher probabilities of suffering from an absence of binocular fusion, severe gaze dysfunction, high myopia, dyskinetic strabismus (alternatively called squint or turned eye), and cerebral visual impairment(CVI) or optic neuropathy. At least 2 in 25 children with cerebral palsy are blind.

Behaviour And Emotional Disorders

2 in 8 children with cerebral palsy exhibit behavioural disorders. Children who experience it the most have epilepsy, severe pain, intellectual disability, or a lesser degree of physical disability. These behavioural disorders include being adamant, anxious, dependent, hyperactive, displaying antisocial traits, or having disagreements with their peer group. Their peer group conflicts and intense emotional reactions to new developments often cause emotional disorders. Young and old adults with CP are likely to suffer from depression and anxiety disturbances.