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Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors

Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy – Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that occurs due to damage to the developing or immature brain. This brain damage can occur before birth, during birth or 3-5 years after birth. This condition is the leading cause of physical disabilities in young children, affecting 2-4 children in every 1000 live births globally. Half of these children affected achieve independent walking in life.

10 percent of them may walk with walking aids, the rest remained crippled for life. Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy treatment is the use of physical activities in the management protocols of patients with such conditions. Physiotherapy for cerebral palsy babies and cerebral palsy adults physical therapy is an effective regimen proven to be efficient in the management of evaluated symptoms in a Cerebral Palsy CP patient.

Physical activities enhances functional efficiency in a Cerebral Palsy patient.

Cerebral Palsy Definition

Cerebral palsy meaning to many differ depending on the presenting features but for better understanding of what cerebral palsy is. We simplified definition of cerebral palsy here so that you can understand the term better. Cerebral Palsy abbreviated in some literature CP is a condition origination from the neurological system ‘the brain’ at an immature and its developing stage.

Mostly Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy presents with movement disorder and also causes coordination deficit. Some may have in the past asked us questions like Can adults get Cerebral Palsy? The answer is capital NO. As earlier said cerebral palsy causes damage to the brain at an immature development stage. This is usually below five years of age. So to say that the condition cannot develop in adults.

Can Cerebral Palsy be cured?

To comfortably answer this, you need to clearly understand that Individuals living with cerebral palsy experience different signs and symptoms depending on the areas of the brain affected but over 70 percent of them have the spastic type of cerebral palsy which may pose motor problems like jerky movements, stiff muscles and joints, abnormal reflexes due to damage to the motor cortex.

In most cases, this condition remain undiagnosed until after the first two years of life. Perhaps, at this stage, the child is expected to have started walking but he or she may not be making any significant progress. At this time their parents or caregivers starts getting worried and in search for solutions.

Physiotherapy for cerebral palsy will do lots of positive good in helping the functional improvement of a baby with the condition. Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy doesn’t at any point render a complete cure for CP. A child with the condition enters with it into adulthood but without cerebral palsy physiotherapy, activities of daily living will be difficult for such a patient.

Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy is the use of physical activities in the management protocols of patients with risk factors cerebral palsy and Developmental delay.

Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy Case Sample

During a rural outreach program by Healthcare Consulting Team. There was this 8months child who had undiagnosed cerebral palsy. Most likely a result of negligence and parents inability to seek for medical consultation. Why did I say so? The parents looked refined and literate. Who would have imagined that they could pay no attention to such serious situation.

Well, the deed has been done. After series of assessment and evaluation, the child’s parents were offered treatment appointment and was lectured about their babies condition by our Physiotherapists. We would continue with the story, lets get back to literature. Next in line is symptoms of cerebral palsy.

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Cerebral Palsy Symptoms and it’s Early Signs

Some of the early signs of this condition include:

  1. Developmental delay termed as Delayed Developmental Milestone DDM: The child may find it difficult to control or carry his or her neck at 3 months, roll from side to side at three months, sit unsupported at 6months, crawl at 7 months, stand with support at 9-11 months and walk independently at one year.
  2. Abnormal muscle tone: This is another notable symptom in which the child may have stiffness and tightness or floppy of muscles, joints in one part of the body or sometimes the whole body.
  3. Abnormal posture: The child may prefer to use one part of the body more than the others or might as well prefer a particular position such as keeping the neck and trunk bent.

Other significant symptoms of cerebral palsy includes

  • Tremors.
  • Coordination and balance problems.
  • Vision impairment.
  • Communication issues.
  • Auditory impairment.
  • Gait disturbances.
  • Mental retardation.

Cerebral Palsy Causes

Some of the most common causes of cerebral palsy are outlined in this literature. It is advisable for you to note this causes and ensure you mitigate its occurrence.

  • Maternal infection during pregnancy such as rubella (German measles), Cytomegalo virus infection etc.
  • Oxygen deficiency also known as Hypoxemia. Insufficient oxygen reaching the baby when the placenta is not functioning or when it tears away from the wall of the uterus before delivery.
  • Premature babies.
  • Low birth weight babies less than 2.5kg.
  • Seizures after birth.
  • Severe or Untreated jaundice.
  • Reduced supply of oxygen to the baby during a prolonged or difficult delivery.
  • Meningitis and head injuries after few years of life.
  • Substance abuse during pregnancy such as alcohol abuse, cocaine, Methamphetamine etc.

Read on hypnotherapy methods of managing alcohol addiction.

There is no cure for cerebral palsy but treatments are aimed at increasing the functional independence of the baby and optimizing their quality of life. This is why physiotherapy for cerebral palsy patients remains the best form of cerebral palsy management.

A well structured exercise regimen tailored by a physiotherapist goes a long way in helping the child to achieve functional independence and good quality of life.

Here are some risk factors cerebral palsy

Risk factors for cerebral palsy doesn’t necessary mean that a child with these risk factors will have this condition. It only but increases the chances of a baby acquiring the condition.

  • Preterm babies or low birth weight babies are at risk of acquiring cerebral palsy.
  • Infancy, children at infant stage are at high risk of cerebral palsy than children above five years of age.
  • Skipping Immunization can expose a child to brain infection which is a cerebral palsy risk factor.
  • Trauma or injury to the head can also bring about an increase in the risk factors of cerebral palsy.
Physiotherapy for cerebral palsy is an effective treatment model for cerebral palsy in babies.

Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy and Physical Activities Health Benefits

  1. The benefits of exercises in children with cerebral palsy cannot be over emphasized. It is very essential that caregivers provide an enabling condition in favour of cerebral palsy patients.
  2. Physical activities and exercises improves brain function: Exercising and engaging Children with cerebral palsy in consistent physical activities improve cortical development and improves the brain in terms of structural and functional Capacity.
  3. Exercising CP children promotes their sense of well being and body image.
  4. Physical activities helps patients with cerebral palsy achieve functional independence with Basic activities of daily living.
  5. It promotes postural alignment.
  6. It decreases muscle tightness and spasms. One thing that is common among cerebral palsy patients is the tightness that occurs in their joint areas. Truth be told, no other form of treatment can assist release these joint tightness aside from frequent and I repeat consistent physical activities.
  7. It improves muscle strength. No doubt, muscle weakness and atrophy is also a common feature among CP patient. With proper and guided Physical therapy regimen. Cerebral palsy patients muscle can be preserved.

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Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy Case Sample Cont.

Starting of from where we paused earlier about the patient we met during an outreach program. At first, the parents put up a positive cloak. Like they are all into this idea of taking a more proactive step in ensuring healthy care of their child. It’s their baby and they can’t love her less. At this point everyone has come to term with the situation, the next in line was to move on to positive solutions.

The Physiotherapy Treatment goals to be achieved in near future for the baby was drafted by our Physiotherapy team alongside it’s physical therapy management means. Good enough, treatment sessions kicked off with the parents consistently coming for PT treatment and not missing a single appointment.

Wow! This is great, the entire team, including the parents were all happy about the remarkable changes and notable improvement in the child’s condition. Suddenly, in a snap, nobody saw both parents and the baby anymore. They disappeared into thin air. Initially it started with momentary absconding appointment to the immediate discontinuation. We tried reaching out severally, to no avail. 

Several Months later, the parents of the child returned with the baby, there was a relapse and almost all the achieved improvements in the child’s condition were lost. From questioning and re-evaluation we found out that they did not only abscond from treatment, but they also abandoned the home care cerebral palsy physiotherapy protocols given for the management of the child.

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Note to Cerebral Palsy Caregiver

Truth is, being a cerebral palsy patient caregiver can be more job tasking than the measured input of a physical therapist. This is why caregivers are encouraged at all time to patiently implement the home care protocols given by a Physiotherapist. Caregivers of patients with cerebral palsy who are yet to commence Physiotherapy Treatment are also encouraged to incorporate the expertise of a physical therapist in the management of CP patients.

Enweluzor, Onyinye k.

Anthony Maximilian

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