Cerebal Palsy

Cerebal Palsy

The medical definition for cerebral palsy is a permanent brain injury that occurs before, during or after birth. Cerebral palsy is most often diagnosed soon after birth but may be diagnosed later on in childhood. Cerebral palsy is generally caused by damage to motor areas in the brain. Damage that impairs the brain’s ability to control body and muscle movement. In most cases, the cause of cerebral palsy will never be known but the brain injury can result from an infection, a lack of oxygen or bleeding into the brain.. Some of the possible errors that could cause cerebral palsy are failure to recognize fetal distress, improper use of a vacuum extractor or delivery forceps, failure to timely deliver by C-section, failure to treat seizures during delivery, failure to recognize a prolapsed umbilical cord which has resulted in diminished oxygen supply, and failure to properly respond to vital sign irregularities.

Most cases of cerebral palsy are diagnosed when a baby is between 3 months and 9 months old. However, mild cases of the condition may not be diagnosed until the child is in preschool.

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

The symptoms of cerebral palsy are dependant on the part of the brain that is damaged, and the severity.

During a baby’s first year of life, some signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • stiff legs
  • scissoring legs when picked up
  • an inability to control/hold the head when picked up
  • using only one hand to reach for/lift up objects
  • consistently holding the opposite hand in a fist
  • using only one side of the body when attempting to crawl
  • unable to stand without support

Children with cerebral palsy may suffer from any combination of the following problems:

  • abnormally toned muscles (which can be under- or overly toned)
  • an inability to perform tasks that require dexterity, such as writing
  • bowel control problems
  • drooling
  • difficulty speaking
  • difficulty walking
  • mental retardation
  • paraplegia or quadriplegia
  • problems with balance and coordination
  • seizures
  • spasticity
  • tremors, writhing and/or other involuntary movements

Risk Factors and Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Risk factors contributing to cerebral palsy before, during, or after birth include:

  • Low birth weight
  • Twins and other multiple births
  • Maternal infections, such as toxoplasmosis, German measles, cytomegalovirus or herpes before her child is born can result in cerebral palsy
  • High fever in the mother
  • Labor and delivery complications, such as the umbilical cord strangling the baby’s neck and restricting the amount of oxygen reaching the newborn’s brain
  • Falls or accidents that damage the infant’s brain
  • Seizures in the infant
  • Rh incompatibility
  • Maternal exposure to toxic substances
  • Severe, untreated jaundice in the newborn
  • Infantile seizures
  • Mistakes made by healthcare providers before, during or after birth