When you’re an expectant mom your main concern is to have a child that is born healthy and destined for a long and happy life.
However, not all children will enjoy such a fate. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a category of brain disorders impacting a significant number of kids born each and every year.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
CP is the result of damage that has occurred to at least one, but sometimes multiple regions of the human brain. It is not uncommon for the brain damage to have occurred in utero, a some point during labor and delivery or soon after birth.
There are also cases in which CP is the result of meningitis or the existence of a brain tumor. CP almost always produces motor difficulties of one degree or another, and it is also known to result in serious developmental delays and retardation in the most profound cases.
Cerebral Palsy Statistics
Many people wonder how many children are afflicted by CP. While it can be difficult to obtain estimates on the prevalence of CP in other areas of the world, roughly 10,000 individual CP diagnoses are made in the United States annually.
Broadly speaking, there are three primary categories of CP, namely ataxic cerebral palsy, athetoid cerebral palsy and spastic cerebral palsy. There are those patients who present with just a single type of CP and also those afflicted by multiple types at once.
The ataxic type of CP is the result of damaged sustained by the cerebellum, the area of the brain responsible for regulating balance. Ataxic CP is in fact the least common form of CP, and those suffering from it exhibit problems with coordination and overall balance.
Athetoid cerebral palsy is the product of damage suffered by the brain’s basal ganglion. This type of CP manifests itself through involuntary muscle movement that is uncoordinated and difficult to manage. While it is possible for some patients with athetoid CP to walk, they will likely stumble regularly.
Another common trait of those dealing with this form of CP is a twisting of wrists as well as fingers.
The spastic form of CP stems from damage that has been done to the brain’s cortex responsible for sensation and movement in a general sense. This represents the most commonly diagnosed type of cerebral palsy and is characterized by noticeable tightness in the arm and leg muscles of patients.
Appropriate therapy and exercise regiments can help sufferers stay out of wheelchairs and walk relatively normally.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Some of the identifiable risk factors common to cases of CP include maternal bacterial infection during pregnancy, prematurity (low birth weight), poor placental oxygen transmission and oxygen deprivation during labor and delivery.
Additional risk factors may include maternal cases of German measles in early pregnancy, blood type compatibility problems between mother and child and post-birth jaundice.
Is There a Cure For Cerebral Palsy?
No cure for CP exists, as the brain damage responsible for the condition is essentially irreversible. Fortunately, therapies and treatment protocols can make a significant difference in the coordination and muscle function that can be fostered in patients dealing with the condition.
By learning all you can about CP, you will gain the ability to serve as a resource for those wishing to understand it better. You will also have the knowledge necessary to explain the condition to your children who may harbor curiosity and concern about an affected classmate or friend.