Cerebral Palsy or simply CP can be described as impaired motor functions. It affects body movements, muscle functions and postures. This happens due to the brain injury or a brain damage which occurs when a brain is in the development stage. This stage particularly can be either before birth, during the birth or immediately after the birth.
Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive disorder, i.e. it does not aggravate, at the same time, it is incurable which is associated with an abnormal brain development.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy is caused by a brain damage, or an injury to a fetus which has happened during pregnancy, or during the childbirth, or even sometimes during the first three years of a child’s life. The possible factors that can increase the risk of having Cerebral Palsy are the following:
- if the pregnancy was NOT full-term and the baby was delivered prematurely.
- if a pregnant lady did not have vital and enough nutrition to support her pregnancy and fetal development.
- If during a pregnancy, the placenta is unable to provide sufficient oxygen to the fetus.
- Severe jaundice after the birth.
- if the child has met with a serious head injury.
- any serious bacterial or viral infection that affects the brain like meningitis.
- Genetic disorders which are associated the brain development.
- Brain Haemorrhage (bleeding in the brain).
Statistics on Cerebral Palsy
In India, 3 out 1000 children suffer from Cerebral Palsy. According to the Indian Cerebral Palsy Register Report 2009, statistically, males, premature babies, babies with low birth weight, and multiple births (twins, triplets, and higher) have a greater risk of Cerebral Palsy. According to Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, in India, there are 33,000 people with Cerebral Palsy. If we talk about the worldwide data, the cases of Cerebral Palsy is 1 in 500 births.
In total, there are 17 million people with Cerebral Palsy worldwide (please refer: Cerebral Palsy Data )
Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
The symptoms and signs of Cerebral Palsy are different to each other. Here the signs of Cerebral Palsy can be identified by a doctor after the clinical examinations and the identifiable effects of brain damage or an injury. On the other hand, symptoms of cerebral palsy cannot be expressed by the child or visible by the others at the initial time.
Cerebral Palsy leads to the physical impairment. It affects the arms, legs and face and also includes uncontrollable muscle movement. Muscles can be too stiff, either can be too loose.
Tasks such as walking, eating, sitting may become difficult for the person who is suffering from Cerebral Palsy. Body movements and postures become unbalanced.
However, it should always be kept in mind that every case of Cerebral Palsy is different to other and every individual is unique. All it depends upon the type and the timing of the brain injury.
Some useful facts on Cerebral Palsy
1. Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive brain disorder. It means that the condition will not get aggravated with the passage of time.
2. Cerebral Palsy is Not curable. This brain disorder cannot be cured permanently, however, therapies and proper medical treatment may help to manage the situation.
3.Cerebral Palsy is NOT a life-threatening disorder. With some exceptions, cerebral palsy is considered as non-life-threatening. Children with cerebral palsy are expected to live their full life.
4. Cerebral Palsy is NOT contagious. This disorder does not spread from one person to another as this condition is caused by a brain damage and brain damage never spreads.
Do a child with Cerebral Palsy need any special assistance?
The term ‘special assistance‘ refers to the special needs and the support of human as well as the advanced technology. A child with Cerebral Palsy do need special assistance, but that too depends upon the type of Cerebral Palsy.
Support and care are always needed to provide them with barrier-free life. Today, much more efforts are being done by WHO with the collaboration of several schools, Universities and institutions to identify the obstacles and challenges so that a child with cerebral palsy can lead a normal challenge-free life.
How can a Parent can prevent the occurence of Cerebral Palsy?
It is already known that this condition can NOT be cured permanently, but some of the preventions can be adopted to minimise the risk of its occurrence. While planning for a family it is very important to consult with your health provider before conception. This pre-conception consult can provide you with some vital information about your and your partner’s health.
For those who are already expecting their little one, it is always adviceable to take necessary medication and vaccination to lessen the risk of Cerebral Palsy. It is important to follow doctor’s advice during pregnancy.
Once the child is being born, check for jaundice. Severe jaundice can lead to an increased risk of Cerebral Palsy.
Nutrition plays an important role in pregnancy period. Therefore, a healthy and a nutritious diet is always good for both mother and baby.
Please remember, if a mother is affected with any brain disorder then it is advisable to discuss the same with the gynaecologists as most of the brain disorders are genetic in nature.