Encyclopedia

Cerebral paralysis

Cerebral palsy /CP/ is a motor and muscle disease that is caused by insufficient development of the brain, most often before birth.

Signs and symptoms appear during infancy or the preschool years.

CP is the cause of motor disorders characterized by excessive reflexes, laxity or stiffness of the limbs and buttocks, incorrect posture, involuntary movements or unsteadiness when walking, or a combination of the above.

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Affected people may have difficulty swallowing and often suffer from eye muscle imbalances. It is possible that some of their joints have reduced range of motion due to muscle stiffness.

Impact of functional abilities by CPU varies widely. Some of those affected can walk while others are unable to perform this motor activity.

A proportion of those affected have almost or completely normal intellectual function, while others may suffer from intellectual impairment. Epilepsy, blindness or deafness may also be present.

People with CP often also suffer from accompanying brain abnormalities.

What are the symptoms?

Clinical manifestations can vary widely.

Motion and coordination disorders are most often expressed in:

• Changes in muscle tone – the muscles are sometimes hard to the touch, and then soften too much;

• Rigid with excessively prominent reflexes /spasticity/;

• Stiff muscles with normal reflexes /rigidity/;

• Lack of muscle coordination /ataxia/;

• Trembling or involuntary movements;

• Slowed, demanding movements;

• Learning motor skills too late such as pushing with hands, sitting up independently or crawling;

Motor skills are better mastered on one side of the body, for example moving only one arm and leg and dragging the other limbs when crawling.

• Difficulty walking such as toe movement, shuffling gait. It is also possible for the affected person to cross their knees or walk too wide when walking.

• Excessive drooling or trouble swallowing;

• Difficulty in sucking or feeding;

• Delayed acquisition of speech skills, such as late speech or difficulty speaking;

• Difficulty performing precise movements such as grasping a spoon or a pen.

Disorders associated with CP may be limited to one side of the body or only one limb, or the whole body may be affected.

The brain damage that causes the clinical condition usually does not progress over time, so the symptoms do not worsen with age.

However, muscle shortening and muscle stiffness can worsen if not treated aggressively.

Other neurological problems

Brain abnormalities associated with CP can cause other neurological symptoms such as:

• Difficulty perceiving new information;
• Oral diseases;
• Urinary incontinence;
• Mental diseases;
• Seizures;
• Abnormal perceptions in touch and pain;

Treatment of cerebral palsy

Children and adults with this disease need the long-term care of a whole team of medical professionals, such as a pediatrician or physical therapist, a child neurologist and orthopedic surgeon, etc.

Medications

Drugs that can reduce muscle stiffness can be used to improve functional ability, relieve pain, and manage complications associated with spasticity.

It is important to discuss the risks of drug treatment. The choice of drugs is determined depending on whether only a certain group of muscles or the whole body is affected.

For isolated spasticity, botox injections are usually recommended directly into the muscle or nerves. And for generalized spasticity, diazepam, dantrolene and baclofen are used.

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