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What is cerebral palsy and how does it manifest?

Cerebral palsy is a disorder that is caused either by somedamage or by abnormal development of the brain, which is why movement, posture,balance and muscle tone are primarily affected. The changes in the developmentof the brain usually happen before the child is born, but the exact reason whythese problems occur are not familiar. Certain elements that have beenidentified to contribute to these problems are genetic mutations, infectionsthat affect the fetus, lack of oxygen, traumatic injuries to the head due tothe fall, child abuse or motor vehicle accident, for example.

Children and people with cerebral palsy often suffer fromtoo stiff or too floppy muscles, exaggerated reflexes, rigidity, lack of musclecoordination, and slow or involuntary movements. Aside from these problems, thedevelopment of their motor skills is also impaired, they have difficultywalking, speaking, eating, and they cannot perform precise motions. A number ofproblems neurological in nature might also be present, starting from dental problemsand problems with vision and hearing, all the way to intellectual disabilities,and seizures. The child suffering from this condition generally begins to showthe symptoms early in infancy and in preschool years, and since they vary, itis important to visit a doctor as soon as parents notice that something simply does not look right.

What are the treatment options for cerebral palsy?

The fact is that this condition is very hard to deal with,particularly for the parents, which is why it is recommended to get as much information and help as possible. What makes it even more difficult is the possibility ofdeveloping even more complications, such as malnutrition, depression and similar.Since there is no cure to this condition, the treatment consists of long termcare, which requires that several specialists are involved. Pediatrician,neurologist, orthopedist, occupational and developmental therapist are only apart of the team, although a special education teacher as well as psychologistor psychiatrist will also have to be involved.

Certain symptoms can be kept under control with medicationsthat decrease muscle tightness and improve certain abilities, but the problemis that these medications tend to cause side effects more than frequently. Surgicalprocedures can help with some bone abnormalities, for example, or with pain andspasticity of the muscles, but before something like that is recommended, othermethods that involve physical therapy, for example, need to be given a try.

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