Cerebral Palsy Cure
One of the most common disabilities involving motor function in the formative years of a child is cerebral palsy. According to prevalence studies on cerebral palsy worldwide, it's estimated that anywhere between 1 and 4 children per a thousand live births have this debilitating condition.
In fact, according to ADDM or Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring--an offshoot of the CDC, one of every 323 children has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
What's more, nearly half, i.e., 41% of children diagnosed with the condition by the ADDM also had concomitant epilepsy.
While it's considered to be a non-progressive condition and the damages already caused by it aren't exacerbated; currently, there is no cerebral palsy cure. It's an incredibly complex condition which makes it even harder to manage and treat it.
That said, researchers have been making some headway in finding a viable cure.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
Even though scientists have known and understood how cerebral palsy affects the human brain and the difficulties that come with it since the 19th century, they are still likely decades away from a potential cure.
One of the main reasons for this is that cerebral palsy or CP isn't a single disorder but a group of concurrent disorders affecting a baby's cerebellum, thereby impairing their motor function. Physicians classify cerebral palsy depending on the movement disorder.
Depending on the region of the brain affected, motor function can be impaired because of either of these movement disorders. These disorders include spasticity (stiff muscles), dyskinesia (involuntary muscle movement), and ataxia (impaired coordination and balance).
CP can be categorized into four main types:
- Spastic CP, which, according to the CDC, is the most prevalent with 80% of diagnosed patients falling under this category is further categorized depending on which part or parts of the body it affects:
- Spastic diparesis/diplegia: which severely affects the legs while arms may be slightly affected or not at all.
- Spastic hemiparesis/hemiplegia: in this type of spastic CP, the arms are the most affected compared to the legs.
- Spastic quadriparesis/ quadriplegia: of the three spastic CP types, this one is by far has the most severe effects on movement and affects the face, trunk, and all four limbs. More often than not, It's accompanied by a host of other developmental impairments such as seizures, intellectual, visual, speech and hearing disabilities.
- Dyskinetic CP affects motor function in arms, hands, legs, and feet. It makes it difficult for patients to perform the simplest of movement, including walking and sitting.
- Ataxic CP usually affects balance and coordination. People suffering from this condition have a hard time balancing and also have trouble with movements that require a higher level of control, such as writing.
- Mixed CP: patients diagnosed with this condition show symptom of the other categories of cerebral palsy. The most common subcategory of mixed cerebral palsy is spastic-dyskinetic.
Cerebral palsy or CP is a condition brought about by a group of permanent neuromuscular disorders that affect muscle tone, movement, and posture.
It develops as a result of the immature brain getting damaged. More often than not, like most diseases and conditions, it doesn't occur alone. CP usually occurs with a variety of other conditions, primarily when the brain is involved, collectively referred to as cerebral palsy related conditions.
Cerebral palsy mainly affects the cerebellum, a region of the brain that is responsible for a variety of motor functions, including coordination, reflexes, control, balance, posture, and movement; it has rather adverse effects on the health and the quality of life of your baby.
It impairs the function of the cerebellum and consequently leads to a variety of conditions collectively referred to as primary conditions. That said, there are other associative conditions such as seizures and intellectual impairment that are common with cerebral palsy.
Additionally, there are also co-mitigating risk factors that exist concomitantly with cerebral palsy but aren't directly caused by it, especially in congenital CP. These include conditions like asthma, autism, ADHD, etc.
Congenital Conditions and Risk Factors of CP
According to the CDC, 85-90% of cerebral palsy cases are congenital. This means that for most children, brain damage occurred during pregnancy.
That said, most of the time, the root cause of the condition is unknown. The following are some of the risk factors/ conditions linked to congenital cerebral palsy:
- Children born with low birthweight especially if they weigh less than 3.3125 pounds
- Children born prematurely: generally, children born between the 32nd and 37th week of gestation have a high risk of developing CP, especially those born before the 32nd.
- Multiple births, if you're carrying twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc. then there's a high chance of one of your baby's developing cerebral palsy, especially if one of them dies shortly after being born or before birth.
- Children born out of infertility treatments or using assisted reproductive technology have are much more likely to develop CP compared to babies conceived normally.
- Infections during pregnancy lead to an increase in the production of cytokines, which are known for causing inflammation, and in the fetus' brain, this could be damaging. Some of the other infections linked to cerebral palsy include cytomegalovirus, rubella, chickenpox, and other bacterial infections that are affecting the mother's pelvic, fetal membrane, or the placenta.
- Jaundice is caused by the buildup of bilirubin and leads to the skin and sclera developing yellow pigmentation, which is referred to as jaundice. When it goes unchecked for extended periods, it leads to kernicterus, which can bring about cerebral palsy though its possible for it to be caused by a difference in the Rh factor or ABO blood group between the fetus and mother.
- Complications during birth, such as the rupturing of the uterine, placental detachment, or problems with the umbilical cord, which cuts off the baby's oxygen supply, can lead to CP.
Categories of Cerebral Palsy Related Conditions
When it comes to the health profession, it's essential to be as specific as possible, especially with medical terminology surrounding CP. While the vocabulary used sounds similar and is often used interchangeably, you must differentiate between the related conditions.
There are four main categories of CP related conditions, and they're grouped depending on how directly related they are to cerebral palsy. These include:
- Primary conditions
- Secondary conditions
- Associative conditions and,
- Co-mitigating factors
These are conditions that are brought on directly by having cerebral palsy. By now, you already know that an injury to the brain before or after birth causes CP.
That same injury could be responsible for a variety of other conditions involving the muscles of the body. Some of these conditions include having poor balance and coordination, low muscle tone, muscle weakness, and difficulties with posture.
These are complications brought on by primary conditions and are directly associated with cerebral palsy. It's worth noting that these conditions wouldn't occur if it weren't for the brain injury that led to the primary conditions. Some examples of these conditions include:
- Feeding difficulties
- Drooling excessively
- Difficulties swallowing
- GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
It's important to remember that since CP is caused by brain injury, it mainly affects motor skills and muscles. These secondary conditions arise because of muscle movement problems in the throat or around the mouth.
If your child his having problems controlling these muscles, then its highly likely that they are more susceptible to one or more of these conditions. Some of the conditions that are brought about by having poor muscle control in the mouth or throat region include:
Oral Motor Control
Having poor oral muscle control can lead to a condition known as "dysphagia," which simply means having difficulty swallowing. Children suffering from dysphagia often feel pain when swallowing and might have problems eating, which makes it hard for them to get the right nutrition.
When your child has cerebral palsy affecting throat and mouth muscles, then there's a high chance that they have dysarthria. That means they're not able to adequately control their diaphragm, vocal cords, tongue, and lips.
Since being able to control these muscles is critical for speech, a child might have trouble speaking.
These are conditions that, more often than not, accompany cerebral palsy but aren't caused by the brain injury that led to CP in the first place.
According to research, associative conditions are so frequent in cases of cerebral palsy that parents of children with CP are typically advised to test for these conditions after the initial CP diagnosis. These conditions include the following:
- Intellectual impairment
- Learning disabilities
- Visual impairment or blindness
- Epileptic seizures
- Hearing impairment or deafness
- Sensory disabilities
Co-mitigating conditions or factors
These are conditions that are separate from CP but tend to occur alongside it. However, unlike associative conditions, co-mitigating conditions haven't been proven to be highly correlated to CP. They exist regardless of whether or not your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Three of the most common co-mitigation conditions include asthma, autism, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
Get the Financial Compensation You Deserve
If you are struggling to provide the security and opportunities your child deserves, but the financial burden has become too heavy, please understand that you are not alone. If your child's disability could have been prevented if not for the actions of a negligent medical provider, you may have a valid legal claim for compensation.
Your child deserves the best medical treatments and physical therapy available - without concerns about the cost. If your child has cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence, call +1 (855) 925-1041 for a free consultation and to learn more about your legal options. Birth injury attorney Laura Brown has dedicated her career to helping families get the support they need to provide the best quality of life for their children after birth injuries due to medical negligence.
- Cerebral Palsy - Treatment Overview
- Cerebral Palsy Treatment - Mayo Clinic
- How is Cerebral Palsy Treated? - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke