Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive brain disease caused by damage to a child’s brain tissue before, during, or after birth for any reason. It is also known as cerebral palsy in children. The causative agent can be the oxygen problem of the brain, infections, bleeding, severe jaundice, genetic or neurological diseases. The general character of the disease is that it is not progressive. In other words, we can talk about a permanent brain damage called permanent. However, the effects of the disease on the periphery of the body, that is, on the arms, legs or systems, can vary. One of the main concerns is the effects on muscle functions. Depending on the brain damage, it can manifest itself in what we call muscle weakness, spasticity (involuntary muscle tension), dystonia (involuntary movements) and ataxia (balance disorder). Although brain damage is constant, these tables sometimes show an increase and sometimes a decrease. It’s dynamic in that regard, but not dynamic in terms of brain damage.
Watch out for risk groups!
It is most common in infants born prematurely and with low birth weight. In other words, the risk of cerebral palsy in premature children weighing less than 1.5 kg is much higher than in other children, but cerebral palsy also occurs in children born completely normal.
Observe your child closely
Early symptoms of cerebral palsy can be seen by following the developmental stages of children. A child should be able to control the head no later than 3 months after birth and sit 9 months later, 12-14 years. should be able to run in months. Like a child 5-6. We should think there is a problem with these children if they still can’t keep control over their heads in 8th and 9th months, can’t sit in 8th and 9th months, and can’t learn step or sequence functions by 1 year old. When the delays in gains in function are added to the difficulties experienced during birth, such as multiple pregnancy, preterm birth, low birth weight, and entanglement of the umbilical cord, the possibility that the child has cerebral palsy is suspected.
It is important not to be late with the diagnosis
The diagnosis of cerebral palsy begins with suspicion. Therefore, the first findings begin with the suspicion of the family or the pediatrician who follows up. Subsequently, the problems in the motor, neurological and mental development of the child are assessed by specialists in child neurology. Brain damage can be recognized by MRI studies in some clinical evaluations. If the brain damage, which has reached a certain stage and is not progressive, becomes apparent, the diagnosis of cerebral palsy becomes clinically apparent. However, the path that families can take can be this. If the child is a multiple pregnancy, i.e. twins or triplets, was born with a low birth weight, was born prematurely (especially before 28 weeks), and if there is a delay in motor development stages, this child should be evaluated by a pediatric neurologist before it is too late.
Benefit from modern treatment practices
Many problems can accompany patients with cerebral palsy. The main ones are motor problems related to muscle and muscle coordination. Therefore, the most important thing in the process is to look at it from the perspective of rehabilitation. In other words, it is the rehabilitation work that needs to be done to enable the child to control his head, walk, sit and stand. However, depending on the severity of the disease, children may also have other neurological problems. For example, epileptic seizures, swallowing problems, respiratory or autonomic problems, etc. can accompany. These accompanying issues should also be properly addressed. Some of the applications that should guide treatment in the future are orthopedic surgeries. In other words, there may be deformities determined by severe muscle tension, sometimes called spasticity, in the musculoskeletal system and extremities, that is, in the extremities (hip, knee, ankle and foot). If these tables cannot be controlled with rehabilitation and orthotics (medical devices), they may need to be eliminated with orthopedic surgery. However, not all cerebral palsy is born with the same symptoms and signs. Therefore, each child’s needs must be met with special evaluations and treatments for him. Even basic rehabilitation practices must be individualized.
The main goal is to complete the motor development stages and increase skill level. The axis of treatment is physiotherapy, that is, rehabilitation. While special rehabilitation practices provide neurodevelopmental support, orthotics, assistive devices, botulinum toxin (Botox), and medical treatments can be used in the management of conditions caused by spasticity. From time to time, advanced devices (devices with advanced technology, robots, etc.) Alternatives such as pool treatments and hippotherapy can also be used for balance and muscle strengthening exercises.
Improving the child’s quality of life
The lesion in the brain does not completely disappear. However, related problems can be eliminated with good rehabilitation practices. Recovery means the following: Depending on the way the patients are involved, especially children with hemiplegia and diplegia can catch up with their normal development even when it is late, they can walk, go to school, finish their education, have a job and play their social role fully. In people with tetraplegia, that is, those with both arms and legs, both mental and physical delays can be permanent. Therefore, their expectations are somewhat lower. Unfortunately, a complete cure is not possible with this disease. The aim is to achieve the maximum level of independence in the current situation.