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Cerebral Palsy

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.

Causes

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.

Treatment

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.

Prevention

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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