First of all, cerebral refers to the area of the brain called the cerebrum. This disorder involves connections between the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum. In this case, the word “palsy” refers to a certain paralysis that may come with genetic or traumatic nerve damage. Cerebral palsy is a term used to define permanent movement problems and physical disability. This disorder is sometimes accompanied by problems with depth perception, sensation and communication. Epilepsy may occur along with symptoms related to spasticity and poor motor coordination.
Cerebral palsy is characterized by abnormal reflexes, muscle tone, decreased motor development, and hand/eye coordination. Individuals with cerebral palsy may have permanent bone deformities and muscles that remain fixed and contracted. Cerebral palsy in humans is accompanied by spasms, uncontrollable facial gestures, and problems with walking. In addition, individuals with this disorder who can walk will walk with either a scissor movement or walk on their toes.
Other conditions that have arisen after the onset of cerebral palsy include
- Eating Disorders
- Sensory Deficiencies
- Delayed Intellectual Development
- Learning Disabilities
- Urinary Incontinence
- Fecal Incontinence
- Behavioral Disorders
- Speech Disorders
Cerebral palsy begins in the brain of a developing fetus. The damage to the brain can occur during pregnancy, delivery, or the first 30 days of life. In patients with cerebral palsy, the white matter of the brain is where the damage mostly occurs. Cerebral palsy may be brought on by intrauterine development issues such as exposure to radiation and infection. Birth trauma during labor and complications surrounding the delivery may cause cerebral palsy. Hypoxia, or lack of sufficient oxygen during growth and development in the womb may create the circumstances for the onset of cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is classified based on the types of motor impairment it creates in the patient. There are four categories of motor impairment. They are spastic, ataxic, and athetoid/dyskinetic. There is also a mixed type.
Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type seen for this disorder. Individuals in this category have a profound limitation of movement and extremely tight muscle groupings. These individuals are hypertonic or possess a central nervous system that does not respond systematically to nerve impulses but is characterized by disordered spinal reflexes.
Ataxic cerebral palsy is characterized in individuals by an awkward gait and trouble with motor skills such as writing or typing. Issues with balance arise. This is the least often occurring form of cerebral palsy as it appears in approximately 10% of cases.
Athetoid cerebral palsy is recognized by the person’s inability to hold objects and is mixed with varying muscle tone and both hypertonia and hypotonia while moving. These patients have a difficult time sitting upright.
Mixed cerebral palsy is a mixture of athetoid, ataxic and spastic categories. This is the most profound presentation of cerebral palsy and the most difficult to treat.
To date, the most often used treatments for cerebral palsy include
- Anticonvulsant Drugs
- Botulinum toxin
- Bimanual Training
- Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy
- Context Focused therapy
- Fitness Training
- Hip Surveillance
- Home Programs
- Occupational Therapy