The brain, an organ of control and the most significant one at that; Yet, it fits the palm of your hand and weighs no more than about a kilo and a half. This miracle worker resides in your head, guarded by a thick skull to protect from harm and a fluid to neutralize the jerks, so that it may go about dictating life. The Brain is commander in chief of three vital aspects of being, thoughts, movements and internal organs. Cerebral palsy occurs when there’s damage to the brain causing impairment in movement or more technically speaking, motor function.
1.Cerebral Palsy, literally translates into ‘Brain disease causing paralysis’. But the true meaning of it would be a significant loss in muscle control and trouble in movement. The severity of the disease would depend on the part of the brain that was damaged. For example, if the Cerebellum was affected, the patient would have trouble with fine motor skills such as writing or typing. Cerebral Palsy is a term used to club a variety of symptoms that may occur together.
2.Cerebral Palsy is a neurodevelopmental disease which simply means that the brain was negatively influenced during its initial stages of formation, a crucial and deciding period. It is pretty straightforward that if a part of the brain doesn’t develop befittingly, its functions would not be carried out. The causes of Cerebral Palsy are plenty and can be broadly categorized under three umbrellas:
The prenatal affliction in the brain occurs while the baby is still in the womb. The prenatal causes are:
A. Exposure of the fetus to radiation
B. Infection that may have occurred during Pregnancy
C. Hypoxia or a brief period of time when the brain was deprived of oxygen.
The postnatal damage to the brain occurs during childbirth. The postnatal causes are:
A. Head trauma or an injury to the brain while the baby was being born
B. Infection that may have taken place on the birth of the baby
C. Hypoxia or deprivation of oxygen to the brain during childbirth
Although, most cases are due to prenatal or postnatal afflictions, a small number of cases, do happen as a result of the mutation of a gene.
3.A very important detail to keep in mind about Cerebral Palsy is that it is not progressive which translates into, the disease not getting worse over time.
4.There are three kinds of Cerebral Palsy based on the type of brain injury and the resultant abnormalities in the sufferer:
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
This is the case, most often and comprises of 70% of all Cerebral Palsy cases recorded every year. The patient has stiff muscles and the part of the brain affected, disallows the reception of gaba (the main inhibitory neurotransmitter). In the absence of gabba, the nerves are overexcited or exhibit, Hypertonia. The patient’s muscles are constantly flexed, there is an abnormal increase muscle activity.
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
In this type of Cerebral Palsy, a part of the brain called Basal Ganglia is affected. What happens because of this is the initiation of involuntary movements that cannot be controlled also known as Dystonia. The movements are slow and occur, primarily, in the legs of the affected individual. Choria is another characteristic of this type of CP and is the involuntary movement of adjacent muscles, consecutively.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
This refers to the kind of CP where the patient is shaky and uncoordinated. This happens when the damage is to the Cerebellum, responsible for coordinated and accurate movements. Patients of this kind suffer a great deal in walking, picking up and holding objects.
5.There are symptoms common to all kinds of Cerebral Palsy and they are:
Pain due to tightening of muscles and abnormal posture.
Difficulty in chewing and swallowing.
Sleeping disorders due to abnormal movements.
Hurdles in communication, vision and learning.
Cerebral Palsy is not curable but the patient’s grief can be lessened by imparting basic life skills so that he or she may lead a full life. Rehabilitation, Speech therapy and Counselling are common approaches to aid the patient.
It is often the strongest among us that take on the gravest of circumstances. A Cerebral Palsy sufferer is a fighter and with a little help, he or she can conquer the world.