Cerebral Palsy


February 19, 2011

The term cerebral palsy, in the past, was used to describe a disorder that causes physical disability, which hampers body movement.

Of late, it is said that cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the motor control centres of the brain and it  can affect muscles and body movements partially.

Cerebral palsy is not a disease, but an unspecified medical condition reported in children during pregnancy, at birth or even after birth. Children affected by this condition can have problems controlling their postures and body movements as a consequence of brain damage.

Although, doctors can give various explanations for these lesions, the most common reason given is that lack of oxygen during pregnancy, at birth or even after birth. Again it is difficult to come to a conclusion because there have been a very few instances of two similar cases.

In some cases, children have almost imperceptible and subtle disorders – clumsy ways of talking, walking and even use of hands. Children suffering more severe brain injuries such as  neonatal anoxia are subjected to severe disorders such as inability to speak and walk besides having to depend on others for daily activities.

Do you know that:

 Cerebral palsy is not contagious;

People suffering from  cerebral palsy have normal intelligence, unless the injury has affected the areas of the brain responsible for thought process and memory;

  • If a person with cerebral palsy has vision or hearing problems due to injury, he will face difficulties while communicating his thoughts and needs. If these facts are not properly observed and recognised, the  chances are that the person will be classified as someone who is mentally retarded.
  • Men and women with cerebral palsy can have children like any normal individuals because their reproductive organs are not affected by brain injury.

Main causes during birth

  • Lack of oxygen at birth can damage parts of the brain
  • Injuries caused by difficult births, especially in foetus of mothers who are underweight, overweight or very young.
  • Violent obstetrical manoeuvres
  • Babies born prematurely (before nine months and weighing less than two kg).

Main causes after birth

  • Prolonged and very high fever
  • Dehydration, with significant loss of fluids
  • Brain infections caused by meningitis or encephalitis
  • Injury or trauma to the head
  • Lack of oxygen caused by drowning or other causes
  • Gas poisoning by lead (used in ceramic glaze, agricultural pesticides or other poisons)
  • Measles
  • Traumatic brain injury before the age of three.

Prevention

Many cases of cerebral palsy can be prevented through campaigns aimed at prospective parents and medical professionals dealing with pregnant women.

Couples, planning to have a baby, should undergo medical examinations to detect the possibility of hereditary problems and blood incompatibility.

Pregnant women should undergo regular check-ups and avoid alcohol and cigarettes. They should avoid taking medicines without  a doctor’s prescription.

It is also very important to administer vaccines to babies at the right time.