Cerebral palsy, or CP, is a term used to describe a variety of conditions that impair motor skills due to some type of brain damage in very young children. There are different types of cerebral palsy and the type a child has will depend on which part of the brain is affected. The most common type of CP is called spastic cerebral palsy and it affects seventy to eighty percent of all the recorded patients.
This type occurs when the part of the brain called the cerebral cortex is damaged. This is the brain’s outer layer. It will affect different areas of the body such as one side and not the other depending on which part of the brain is damaged. The normal flow of communication from the brain to the nerve and then to the muscle is disrupted when a person has spastic cerebral palsy.
This prevents them from working together the way they were designed to so, they become tense and/or spastic. It is important to gain information on cerebral palsy; to enable yourself to correctly identify cerebral palsy if needed.
Spastic cerebral palsy can cause the affected muscles to become stiff and contracted permanently and it’s divided into five different sub-types according to the part of the body that’s affected. Each one of these sub-types end with “plegia” because this term means weak or paralyzed. They use a Latin prefix to describe the number of limbs that are affected.
Diplegia will affect either both of the arms or both of the legs while quadriplegia will affect all four limbs at once. Hemiplegia is the sub-type used to describe when only the limbs on one side of the body are affected and the other side of the body is fine. Monoplegia will affect only one limb and Triplegia will affect three limbs but both of these are very rare.
Normally, this type of CP will affect the legs of the patient more often than it does the arms. The patient’s legs can turn inward and cross at the knees. Patients with Hemiplegia can experience tremors and the arm is usually affected more than the leg. However, there are other symptoms associated with all types of spastic CP such as seizures, vision problems and learning disabilities.
Non-ambulatory children who have cerebral palsy tend to have more reduced bone mineral density than ambulatory children according to several studies that have been conducted. Cerebral palsy treatments will vary deepening on how severe the CP is. However, tendons and muscle lengthening is a technique used in orthopedic operations to treat this type of CP and increase the range of motion of the patient.
Botox injections are a treatment that is fairly new. These will weaken the affected muscles and it usually helps for three or four months with minimal side effects. A new treatment called Baclofen is being used as well but it’s still a fairly new procedure.
As with all types of cerebral palsy this one can be mild or severe and in some cases it can completely limit the range of movement in the affected area. Anxiety can increase the spastic effects and the patient is often exhausted. It can prevent children from growing normally and it can eventually cause muscle and joint deformities. A child with spastic cerebral palsy is a challenge for all parents, but with a lot of love and care it can easily be overcome.