A group of disorders that hinder movement control can be best used to describe cerebral palsy. It is normally caused by brain injury shortly after birth, around the time of birth or during pregnancy. The damage to the brain may be caused by a number of factors depending on the mother’s and child’s health history, onset and type. The condition is either acquired at birth or congenital (present at birth).
It can result from a variety of conditions:
- Urinary / kidney infections – can also cause brain damage
- Bleeding – brain damage can be caused by bleeding in the infant’s brain after birth
- Toxicity – brain damage can be caused by alcohol or drug use
- Stroke – coagulation disorders may cause a stroke in the fetus
- Oxygen shortage – brain damage to the child can be caused by oxygen shortage during birth
In a similar way the patients have problems controlling their legs and arms, they also have problems controlling breath flow, jaw, lips, mouth and tongue. The might have problems with speech as a result. Dysarthria is the most common speech problem. It is a condition that causes speech to be slurred and slow, in some cases, hypo nasal (not enough air flowing through the nose) and hyper nasal (too much air flowing through the nose).
There are a number of treatments available to combat drooling problems:
- Bio feedback which basically alerts patients when they are drooling
- Drugs or anticholinergics that reduce saliva flow
The muscle groups involved in the jaw and face can be affected by cerebral palsy which can in turn cause eating difficulties. In extreme cases, malnutrition can be the result with poor development and growth.
Poor bladder control is known as incontinence. It can be in a number of forms such as slow leak from the bladder, urination during physical activity, bed wetting or Enuresis.
There are 3 major goals of physical therapy. To begin with, the therapist will try to prevent the deterioration of muscle tissue form lack of use or atrophy. A second goal is avoiding contraction of muscles as a result of the condition. Lastly, a skilled physical therapist will work with the affected person to improve their motor skills by use of a special exercises program.
A behavioral therapist is one who works with the patient in a bid to improve communicative, mental and physical skills. The therapy itself will vary greatly depending on the needs of the individual, level of disability and age. A number of the techniques used will discourage destructive or negative behavior while improving self-sufficiency.
Drugs are normally prescribed for patients of cerebral palsy to control seizures resulting from the condition. The drugs will vary widely since the cause of the seizures can be attributed to different causes. In each individual case, there may be varying combinations of the drugs. The spasticity caused by cerebral palsy is another application of drug therapy. The three most common of such drugs are dantrolene, diazepam and baclofen. All these drugs operate by stopping chemical processes in the central nervous system and have some side effects that should be discussed with a medical practitioner.
It is recommended for persons who do not respond well to other treatment forms and are suffering from extreme muscle contractions. The muscle contractions can be corrected by lengthening the muscles and tendons involved surgically. Pre-operative analysis is the most important part of the process should surgery be selected as a treatment option. In this phase, doctors choose the muscles and tendons that have to be adjusted to compensate for the contractions. This is important to the process since complex movements such as taking a walk may need a number of different groups of muscles to be modified.