A group of permanent movement disorder that appears early in childhood is called Cerebral Palsy (CP), and it has different symptoms and signs among people over time. This physical impairment is the most common cause of motor disabilities among children. According to LDOCE, “Cerebral” itself means “relating to or affecting your brain,” and “palsy” means an illness that makes your arms and legs shake because you cannot control your muscles.”
This disability is caused by abnormal brain development, damage, or injury that occurs to the immature brain as it developed, most often before birth. Sometimes, this can occur during the delivery or the first years of life. Usually, During the infancy or preschool, the symptoms and signs of this disability appear.
Cerebral palsy symptoms
People who are dealing with cerebral palsy have different symptoms from person to person. The range of this physical impairment is from mild to severe. Weak muscles, stiff muscles, poor coordination, and tremors are some of the cerebral palsy symptoms. Other symptoms are such as:
- Variations in muscles tones: too stiff or too floppy
- Stiff muscles and spasticity (exaggerated reflexes)
- Stiff muscles and rigidity (normal reflexes)
- Muscle coordination (ataxia) and lack of balance
- Involuntary movements (tremors)
- Motor actions with delay (pushing up on arms, sitting down, sitting up, etc.)
- Writhing movements very slowly.
- Walking with difficulty like walking on toes, a wide gait or an asymmetrical gait, a crouched gait, a scissors-like gait with knees crossing.
- Problem with swallowing or excessive drooling
- Eating or sucking problems
- Difficulty in speaking or delay in speech development
- Difficulties with learning
- And so on.
Who’s at risk of cerebral palsy?
Babies are the group who are at the most risk for cerebral palsy because of the danger of:
- Premature birth
- Being a twin or triplet
- Low birth weight
- Low Apgar score which used to assess the physical health of babies during the birth
- Breech birth which occurs when the baby comes out with feet first.
- Rh incompatibility, a situation in which a mother’s blood Rh type is incompatible with her baby’s blood.
- Exposure to toxic substances like methylmercury during the pregnancy
What causes cerebral palsy?
As mentioned before, cerebral palsy is caused by a disruption in brain development before or after birth. Here are some of the causes:
- Bleeding into the brain
- Fetal stroke
- Gene mutations
- Infant infections
- Lack of oxygen
- Maternal infections
- Traumatic head injury
Never forget that cerebral palsy is not a disease that can be prevented, but some ways to lessen the risk. If a woman is pregnant, the first and the essential step is to take care of herself and her baby. Taking the vaccine, such as rubella, before getting pregnant, is another thing to do. A pregnant woman should visit her doctor regularly to make sure that her baby is healthy and ok. Avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs are necessary for both mother and the baby. Keeping the infant or the baby from head injuries or providing a car seat, bicycle helmet, safety rails on bed, and other things to keep the baby safe, is vital.
Cerebral palsy treatments
To prevent difficulties and improve the limitations of cerebral palsy, some of the different ways of treatment:
- Physical therapy or physiotherapy to recover or improve physical ability which impaired due to injury or condition
- Speech therapy to improve difficulty with speech and language disorders
- Occupational therapy to regain or maintain the activities or occupations of individuals or groups.
- Counseling or Psychotherapy both help to personal growth and life management of a person
- Recreational therapy is about a systematic process that allows people with physical or emotional needs to develop their daily skills.
- Social services consultation is a problem- solving technique that helps people with special needs face their daily challenges and learn how to become more effective in their professional work.
- Using eyeglasses to solve some of the vision impairment
- Using hearing aids to help hearing impairment
- Using walking aids help those people who have walking problems
- Body braces are some devices which keep the body tight and fight against the body’s curve like the curve in the back, or an elbow, by over- correcting.
- Using wheelchairs helps those who have a problem with their feet and can not walk correctly.
Sport and cerebral palsy
There are hundreds of articles about the benefits of regular physical activities and how sports make your body and mind healthy. Many organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, and so on, which support physical activities, Everything is ok when we talk about people with normal conditions and normal bodies. There is a group of people who has some difficulties when they want to have some physical activities. People with cerebral palsy face the real challenge when they want to do sports, But there’s a point: “Everything is possible”!
Many sports are appropriate to the cerebral palsy condition. Due to the physical requirements and disabilities, these sports have different classifications. Sports help people to socialize and to have interaction with other people. There are some sports which are appropriate for people with cerebral palsy:
A ball sport, initially designed for the people with cerebral palsy, but other athletes and people with disabilities play this sport to affect their motor skills.
It is an excellent sport for athletes with cerebral palsy and balance impairments. A RaceRunning bike with a three-wheeled frame with saddle and body supports and no pedals, called racerunner, helps the people with Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s Disease, and Cerebral Palsy to steer the bike and walk or run.
- CP Football
Cerebral Palsy Football is a recreational activity that lets people with some brain injury levels play this sport at teams as a regional or international sport.
A bat and ball game for people with cerebral palsy or other specific physical disabilities is somehow the same as ping pong and plays with no net or barriers on the table. This game has thousands of players from 6 to 96 years old around the world.
Excellent therapy and exercise for people with cerebral palsy, which the whole body is moving and makes the heart, lungs, muscles, body parts move. It reduces stress and anxiety, and know-how to swim can save lives. This sport improves flexibility, coordination, and balance.
It is an adapted and miniature cricket version that plays on a tennis table and is designed for people with physical challenges ranging from seven to 19.
- Frame Football
Frame football lets people with cerebral palsy enjoy playing football with walking equipment such as a frame or walker.
There are more sports for people with CP out there. The whole thing is Be Active Be Happy!