What is Cerebral Palsy?
It is a group disorders associated with developmental brain
injuries that occur during foetal development, birth, or with
the first 2 to 3 years of life.
It is characterized by a disruption of motor skills with
symptoms such spasticity, paralysis, mental retardation,
seizures, vision or hearing problems
It is no longer considered as a disease but rather as a chronic
non-progressive neurological disorder. The incidence is
estimated to be 1.5 to 4 per 1000 births.
The exact cause of the brain injury is not known; can be due
to complications related to prematurity as a result of mother’s
general health and behavioural factors during pregnancy such as
smoking, alcohol intake, exposure to chemical toxins or harmful
substances, or a baby can be deprived of blood, oxygen or other
nutrients before or during birth. After birth Cerebral Palsy can
be due to head injury (trauma) or infectious diseases such
meningitis or cerebral malaria. A small percentage could be
hereditary or familial.
Signs and Symptoms
The above signs and symptoms depend on the severity of the brain
insult or injury and may be progressive in appearance or may
become more pronounced as the child grows older.
- Delayed or abnormal movements of body part /s or whole
- Stiffness or floppiness
- Un-coordinated movements or slight limp
- Birth defects e.g. irregular shaped spine, small head,
stiff jaw, drooling, crying, poor sucking or swallowing
There is no cure for CP, hence treatment is often needed
throughout life to help manage symptoms, prevent complications
and maximize abilities. Medication, sometimes surgery,
specialized equipment and devices and therapy for stimulation to
prevent complications is highly recommended. The mother or
caregiver of a CP child must be an integral part of the therapy
team which may include: a Physiotherapist, Occupational
Therapist, Speech Therapist, Audiologist, Social worker
/Psychologist, Medical Doctor. Therapy may be provided at a
hospital, CHC, Clinic or through a support group.
It is of paramount importance that a pregnant woman attends
prenatal and antenatal clinics regularly. Pregnant women must
also avoid predisposing factors such as drinking alcohol,
smoking, exposure to toxic chemicals (Pollution), and must eat
healthy food to prevent prematurity or under-weight babies.
Pregnant mothers must ensure that they give birth under
supervision of a doctor or mid-wife nurse. Baby’s immunization
schedule must be up-to date
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