Cerebralpalsyguidance.com is a comprehensive source for information on the complex condition of cerebral palsy.
One of the major goals of National Health Education Week is to raise national awareness of major diseases and promote a better understanding of the role of public education in dealing with them, and this is certainly true in the case of Cerebral Palsy and the impact that it has on patients, their families, and the community as a whole. Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of disorders that damage the brain during the initial developing stages after birth or while still in utero. The resulting damage can affect the body’s ability to move, muscle tone, control, or coordination, reflexes, posture, and balance. There may also be intellectual impairments, vision and hearing problems, and epilepsy. Cerebral Palsy is a permanent condition.
When it comes to what causes Cerebral Palsy to develop in the first place medical science is still a bit in the dark. There is no single cause for the disease and in many cases, it is unknown why a baby is born with it. There is some evidence that certain complications with the birthing process such as asphyxia or lack of oxygen can play a role, but on the whole, it is still a mystery. What researchers are confident of is that there are a bunch of issues that can take place during the development of a fetus that can increase the odds of Cerebral Palsy developing. Chief among these indicators are premature birth, low birth weight, and blood clotting problems. Other possible causes for Cerebral Palsy can include an infection or environmental exposure (e.g. lead poisoning) while in the womb and genetic problems.
When diagnosing Cerebral Palsy there are certain markers that physicians look for as indicators. These markers are not generally the result of any single examination, but instead are part of a lengthy screening process that is usually conducted between the ages of 2 to 5. That said, sometimes the symptoms are severe enough that doctors can make a diagnosis shortly after birth. The screening process is normal for all babies and is designed to see if they are suffering a multitude of possibly life inhibiting conditions such as hypothyroidism, galactosemia, and sickle cell diseases. There are also a set of tests to check metabolism, hearing, and vision, as well as the APGAR (activity, pulse, grimace, appearance, and respiration) score which can all contribute to a diagnosis.
There are no known cures for Cerebral Palsy, however, there is a range of treatments available to help children reach their greatest potential as they develop and mature into adulthood. This often takes the form of assistance in learning how to control motor functions, speech, learning, and dealing with their environment. Medications are also prescribed to help mitigate muscle pain and stiffness, and in some cases, surgery is used to correct scoliosis which is a common trait among sufferers of Cerebral Palsy.
Cerebral Palsy affects approximately 1 million people in the United States and can be devastating if not properly diagnosed at a young age. Treatments are available to help, but perhaps the biggest help comes from raising awareness of this condition and to encourage research that will hopefully one day finding a cure.