Monday, May 23, 2011

Cerebral Palsy; The Basics

Premature babies are at risk for Cerebral Palsy (CP). It is caused by damage to one or more areas of the brain.

"Cerebral" refers to the brain and "palsy" refers to a physical disorder.

CP falls into one of three main types:

Ataxic CP: (loss of depth perception and balance)caused by damage to the cerebellum, which controls balance; this is the rarest of the three types. Children with this type of CP have difficulty coordinating movements and balance.

Athetoid/Dyskinetic CP: (uncontrolled or involuntary movement)caused by damage to the basal ganglion and causes uncoordinated, involuntary, and uncontrolled muscle movement. Children with this type of CP may be able to walk but often stumble. It is also characterized by twisting of the fingers and wrists.

Spastic CP: (difficult or stiff movement)caused by damage to the cortex which controls movement and sensation. It is the most common type of CP and results in tight muscles in the arms and legs. Children with this type of CP can avoid being placed in a wheelchair if their muscles are exercised properly.

Mixed CP: a combination of two or more of the above,or all three.
Aside from Premature birth other risk factors associated with Cerebral Palsy include, but are not limited to, improper oxygen while the infant was developing, bacterial infection in the mother while pregnant, and prolonged oxygen loss during birth. Severe jaundice after birth. Another possible factor can be by the mother being infected with German measles during the beginning of her pregnancy.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for CP due to the fact that brain damage cannot be reversed. However, with training and therapy, muscle function and co-ordination can greatly improve.

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