Cerebral Palsy is the group of neurological disorders in infants or young children, resulting due to brain injury. Its effects depend upon the severity and location of the injury. The diagnosis is based mainly upon the development of the child as observed by parents and physicians.
Cerebral palsy or brain paralysis is the group of disorders which affect the movements, balance, and posture. This condition may be caused by congenital or acquired reasons. In certain cases, the cause may be unknown. The symptoms of the disorder can be first identified by the parents, since the child suffering from cerebral palsy shows delayed characteristics of development. The symptoms may be similar to other disorders as well, hence the physicians may need to assess on various parameters before making the final diagnosis. Some of the symptoms found in the children suffering from this condition include:
- Lethargy or poor concentration
- Excess irritability
- Trembling of arms and legs
- Poor muscle tone
- Problem in swallowing
- Inability to suck
- Frequent seizures and twitching
- Slow or abnormal reflexes
- Asymmetrical posture
- Poor digestion and bowel problems
The symptoms may appear anywhere between infancy to 3 years of age. Also, the intensity of symptoms may vary depending upon the severity of injury.
The symptoms of the abnormal or slow development of the child are first reported by the parents. Firstly, even if the child shows slow development during the initial stages, his nervous system may become organized over time. Secondly, the central nervous system in children is highly plastic and has a great self- repairing capacity. Hence, the functions of the damaged part can be taken over by other parts and the child may resume normal development later. And lastly, it takes 2-3 years for the child’s motor skills to stabilize.
Therefore, even if the child shows the symptoms of mild cerebral palsy, physicians are likely to attribute them to some other disorder. Developmental delay, motor disability and central nervous system dysfunction are the common terms which the physicians use, to describe the condition of the child. However, over time it becomes apparent that the child is suffering from cerebral palsy. The next step is to strictly monitor the development of the child. This is usually done by a team of experts who are proficient in various fields. Various medical tests like CT scan and MRI scan also help in diagnosing this condition.
Regular assessment and tests of child development are conducted so as to find the developmental issues. Various comparisons and calculations depending upon the child’s medical history are made so as to rule out the possibilities of other disorder or illness. The evaluation of child’s strengths, weaknesses, and abilities is done so that accurate diagnosis can be made. The other areas of assessments include, the child’s reflexes, motor skills, posture, condition of mother during pregnancy etc. All these tests and assessments help the parents to cater to the future needs of their child. Based on the degree of disability, the child may or may not need a lifelong care.
Though, cerebral palsy cannot be cured completely, the child can lead a near normal life with proper therapy. Moreover, the child lacking a motor skill in one area may excel in some other area. Thus, this condition in no way can prevent a child from enjoying the pleasures of life.