You may already know that cerebral palsy affects thousands of newborns across America due to medical malpractice or natural causes. But you may be wondering how you would know if your child may seem healthy but is actually developing cerebral palsy in the first couple years of life. When an infant or child endures brain damage they are several symptoms that can can signal to you and your doctors that something may be wrong with your child’s health. In the first few months after being born, an infant with brain damage may show some or all of the following symptoms which may indicate the development of cerebral palsy and other disabilities:
Once you child reaches six months of age, it should becomes apparent as to whether he or she is picking up basic movement skills or learning slower than normal. Infants with cerebral palsy develop physically and mentally slower. Simple activities like rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking and talking may prove difficult for your child if they are developing, or already have cerebral palsy.
Why Would There be a Delay in Diagnosis?
In certain cases, doctors may delay in diagnosing a child with cerebral palsy. This is due in part to the fact that the disability lies in the plasticity of a child’s central nervous system and it’s difficult to determine how able a child is ability to recover from any trauma he or she may have encountered during delivery. It is also hard to tell the amount of brain damage that has occured in the first few months of life. It has been proven that the brains of very young children can repair themselves easier and faster than those of adults.
This is why it is so important that whether your delivery has no complications and your child seems healthy, you see your doctor regularly to have you child’s health checked. Cerebral palsy can only be diagnosed with a complete exam of your child’s current health status. During an exam your child’s motor skills will be analyzed and the doctor will look for abnormal movements, lower than average muscle tone, and other developmental delays.
Every expecting mother worries about the health of their child during pregnancy and there’s nothing more important to the majority of parents than having a healthy baby. However, due to certain circumstances, sometimes beyond our control and other times the result of medical malpractice, babies are born with brain injuries and other health complications that can lead to cerebral palsy and other disabilities. As a result, newborns can develop life altering impairments for which they may have to receive life long treatment for, since in the case of cerebral palsy there is no cure.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a disorder that negatively impacts the central nervous system in the body of newborns. The disability can even develop in a child in their first two years of life due to complications during birth. Cerebral palsy causes damage to the cerebrum, which is the part of the brain that is mainly largely responsible for our overall motor function as human beings.
Those who have cerebral palsy often encounter a symptom known as spasticity. Spasticity is when there is an increase in muscle tone and a contraction occurs that interferes with the body’s normal movement. This symptom of cerebral palsy can affect any part of the body from a single limb to the entire body.
Some other symptoms of cerebral palsy are:
Although there is no way to cure cerebral palsy in newborns or as they age, there are many ways to treat the disability so those affected can lead somewhat normal lives. Above all, it is important to take the right steps toward proper health care during and after pregnancy to ensure your infant isn’t affected by this life-changing disability.
Dystonia-choreoathetosis affects approximately 10 percent of all cerebral palsy patients and it is notoriously difficult to treat. However, a new study by French researchers shows promise for treating this form of cerebral palsy.
Using what is known as bilateral pallidal deep brain stimulation (BP-DBS), researchers were able to improve motor symptoms in 8 out of 13 cerebral palsy patients who participated in the trial. Improvement in motor functioning was based on a movement rating scale and ranged from 21 to 55 percent, with an average of 24.4 percent. The researchers also found that the deep brain stimulation helped to reduce pain.
Deep brain stimulation involves the use of an implantable device that operates similar to a pacemaker. Whereas a pacemaker uses electrical currents to help regulate heartbeat, deep brain stimulation uses electrical impulses to help the brain control movement in the body.
Although the initial results are promising, researchers made sure to point out that the study was small and additional research is necessary – particularly with regard to treating cerebral palsy symptoms in children.
On Thursday, July 2nd, the Today Show will feature a story on the robotics research being conducted to improve the lives of children and adults with cerebral palsy. For the segment, the show visited the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Blythedale Children’s Hospital. The show will specifically focus on how robots can be used to improve cerebral palsy symptoms in the arms and legs.
The Today Show runs from 7 to 11 a.m. ET on NBC, but the segment may be available on the show’s website after it airs.
Nearly 14 percent of children in America have some kind of special health care needs, including those who are affected by cerebral palsy. Though it is not often talked about, kids with cerebral palsy symptoms and other special needs sometimes suffer from mental health problems in addition to their physical impairments. Early intervention can reduce the impact of such problems in children, and there are a number of resources parents can take advantage of to help their child.
In fact, the National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center has a listing of national and state resources for supporting the mental health needs of young children. Find a resource near you by visiting the NCCIC website today.
In April, Honda introduced two walking devices designed to assist people with weakened leg muscles and other mobility challenges. Though the devices are still in the testing phase, they seem to hold promise for individuals whose mobility is impaired by cerebral palsy symptoms.
The Stride Management Assist and the Bodyweight Support Assist are both lightweight, wearable walking devices that rely on computer sensors to obtain information about the user’s stride and pace.
This information is then used by the device to apply “cooperative control” – in other words, to make calculated adjustments so that walking is easier. The second device, however, is also designed to support some of the user’s bodyweight and reduce pressure on the leg joints during physically strenuous activities.
Honda is applying for patents for both devices and is still working to ensure that they are effective in real-world situations.
Intensive locomotion therapy is a relatively new area of research in treating cerebral palsy symptoms in children, and clinical studies involving the Pediatric Lokomat® have so far shown positive results.
What is the Pediatric Lokomat?
The Pediatric Lokomat is essentially a robotic treadmill training device. Unlike manual treadmill training that requires the assistance of a physical therapist, the Pediatric Lokomat uses robotic gait orthoses and harnesses to guide a child through the session. The device monitors the patient’s movements and can be adjusted to meet individual needs.
The Pediatric Lokomat is appropriate for children over the age of four with cerebral palsy and other gait-impaired patients.
Clinical research projects involving the Pediatric Lokomat can be found at various hospitals across the United States. Your child’s medical providers may be able to provide you more information regarding this particular type of therapy.
Now that the weather is warming up, it’s the perfect time to think about aquatic therapy. There are many benefits to aquatic therapy for people of all ages and abilities, but it is particularly beneficial for helping children manage their cerebral palsy symptoms in a fun and active way.
What is Aquatic Therapy?
Essentially, aquatic therapy involves any type of cardiovascular or conditioning exercises that are done in the water – usually an indoor or outdoor pool. Aquatic therapy is naturally low impact and the buoyancy of the water serves as a support for weakened limbs and other body parts. For children with cerebral palsy, the benefits of aquatic therapy include:
In addition, aquatic therapy provides a source of recreation and socialization for kids with cerebral palsy. And it’s not necessary for the child to know how to swim since therapy can be done in shallow water or with the use of flotation devices. There are also assistive technologies that make water activities more accessible to people with disabilities. Visit ABLEDATA to see a list of assistive devices.