Overcoming Challenges of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects movement, posture, and coordination. It is caused by damage to the brain before, during, or after birth. Children with cerebral palsy may experience specific learning difficulties, such as a short attention span, motor planning difficulties, perceptual difficulties, and language difficulties. This can affect literacy, numeracy, and other skills.

Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy are just a few of the options available to help improve cerebral palsy symptoms. Mobility aids and assistive devices can also be used to increase independence. Muscle training and exercises can help your child strengthen strength, flexibility, balance, motor development and mobility. You'll also learn how to safely care for your child's daily needs at home, such as bathing and feeding.

Your therapist can provide guidance on how you can continue muscle training and exercising at home between therapy visits. These experts pay special attention to the needs and problems that are most common in people with cerebral palsy and can work together with their primary care provider. The decision between assisted living and independent housing depends primarily on the severity of cerebral palsy and on a person's ability to complete everyday tasks independently. If your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, he or she will likely be referred to specialists for testing for other conditions that are often associated with the disorder. While the diagnosis and treatment of cerebral palsy are usually focused on children and adolescents, adults with cerebral palsy may develop unique physical and mental health problems that may increase in severity with age. The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy may become more obvious over time, so a diagnosis may not be made until a few months or a year after birth. The type of cerebral palsy is determined by the main movement disorder experienced, but several movement disorders can occur together.

After diagnosing cerebral palsy, the doctor may use a rating scale, such as the Gross Motor Function Rating System, to determine the function and severity of mobility, posture, and balance. Most people have congenital cerebral palsy (were born with it), although it may not be detected until months or years later. If your child has cerebral palsy, how you learn about your condition may depend on the severity of the disabilities, when the signs and symptoms appeared, and whether there were risk factors during pregnancy or delivery. There are some aspects of daily life that can present some additional challenges for people with cerebral palsy. To treat a specific muscle tightening, your doctor may recommend injections of onabotulinumtoxin (Botox) or another agent.

This can cause difficulty swallowing, breathing, or communicating; these are considered secondary conditions of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy related to genetic abnormalities cannot be prevented, but some risk factors for congenital cerebral palsy can be controlled or avoided. Cerebral palsy symptoms vary in type and severity from person to person and may even change over time. If you are the parent of a child who was recently diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you may feel worried about your child's future. Another NIH agency, the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Eunice Kennedy Shriver also conducts and supports research on cerebral palsy. Living with cerebral palsy can be challenging for both children and adults alike.

It is important to understand that there are many resources available to help those living with this condition manage their symptoms and live as independently as possible. Physical therapy is one of the most important treatments for those living with cerebral palsy as it helps improve strength, flexibility, balance, motor development and mobility. Occupational therapy can also help those living with this condition learn how to safely care for their daily needs at home such as bathing and feeding. In addition to physical therapy there are also many assistive devices available that can help those living with cerebral palsy increase their independence. These devices range from wheelchairs to communication devices that allow those living with this condition to communicate more effectively. It is also important for those living with cerebral palsy to have access to emotional support from family members or friends as well as mental health professionals who specialize in helping those living with this condition manage their emotions. Finally it is important for those living with cerebral palsy to have access to information about their condition so they can make informed decisions about their treatment options.