Cerebral Palsy is the most common cause of physical disability in children and young people.. Shockingly, approximately one in every 400 babies born in the United Kingdom is diagnosed with this motor disability. And while it’s true that there is no cure for cerebral palsy, the sooner it is diagnosed and treatment is begun, the better the quality of life will be for the child and his or her entire family. A British patient advocacy organization, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), has issued a new guideline that aims to improve cerebral palsy diagnosis and treatment.
Among the warning signs of cerebral palsy, the guideline suggests parents look out for:
- Eating, drinking, and swallowing difficulties
- Fidgety movement, lack of movement, asymmetry of movement
- Floppiness of muscle tone, stiffness of muscle tone
- Abnormal motor development, including lack of head control, and difficulty rolling over or crawling
- Not sitting up by eight months of age
- Not walking by 18 months
- Asymmetry of hand function at an early age
The guideline also recommends screening for cerebral palsy using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look for abnormalities or injuries so the brain, but not to rely solely on it for diagnosis.
The guideline also offers recommendations for treating conditions that can accompany cerebral palsy, like constipation, drooling, sleep disturbance, lack of bone density, behavioral problems, depression, and much more. Caring for a person with cerebral palsy can be very challenging for family members, and even professionals. Early diagnosis and intervention can significant improve the child’s quality of life.