Neurological disorders are of several types; some are rare, while others are common. One of the common neurological disorders is cerebral palsy. It is often found in children, impacting their muscle movement and motor skills.
Symptoms of cerebral palsy differ for every child ranging from mild to severe depending on the area of the brain affected. Some symptoms include delayed milestones such as walking or sitting, involuntary movement, intellectual disabilities, and difficulty swallowing.
A traumatic injury to the part of the brain controlling coordination, body movement, and posture causes cerebral palsy.
So, how is cerebral palsy diagnosed?
By taking a complete medical history, performing a physical and a detailed neurological exam will help diagnose cerebral palsy. Additional testing includes an ECG to analyze the brain’s electrical activity and an MRI scan for clear images of the brain to accurately diagnose cerebral palsy.
Regardless of no cure for cerebral palsy, an effective management plan can help minimize the symptoms and improve a child’s quality of life. Most parents believe that the management plan is similar for every child with a neurological disorder; however, that is not true. Management of cerebral palsy depends on the severity of symptoms.
It is necessary that, as a parent, you learn more about the approach that works best for your child. Here are a few tips that will help minimize the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy.
It is the first step in helping children with Cerebral Palsy with a primary focus on improving motor skills and reducing difficulties associated with movement. A physical therapist incorporates strength or flexibility exercises and equipment in their treatment plan to lengthen tightened muscles and improve mobility.
Physical therapy enhances the chances for better outcomes. The key benefit of physical therapy is that it prevents contractures and joint dislocation by keeping the body active and strong. Various exercises used throughout the treatment plan benefits every type of Cerebral Palsy.
Treatment can also be tailored depending on the side of the movement issue. For instance, movement is likely limited to one side of the body, the legs, torso, or all four limbs. Different exercises are prescribed depending on the movement limitation to improve it over time.
Physical therapy improves muscle tone, helps with walking, and assists with mobility aids to produce better treatment outcomes.
Occupational therapy differentiates from physical therapy in a way that it focuses on improving the activities of daily living, such as brushing hair, handling objects, and writing, among others. Children with CP have difficulty living independently. Occupational therapy in Townsville plays its role by providing the ability to live an independent life.
Before proceeding with therapy, the occupational therapist carries out a complete evaluation. The evaluation includes assessing the child’s oral-motor development and fine motor skills.
Often children with CP have difficulty swallowing, breathing, and communication issues which hint towards speech therapy. While not every CP child experiences speech impairment, a study concluded that most children with Cerebral Palsy do have speech issues.
Speech therapy mainly involves exercises that help children understand words, sounds, and numbers. Communication improves through writing, picture boards, and augmentative communication devices.
The treatment varies depending on every individual’s needs and physical assessment. The most common problem that children often experience is dysphagia which includes choking on food or drinks, breathing difficulties, and excessive coughing.
The key benefit of speech therapy is to enhance communication skills which are a foundation of an individual personality and the person they become. With the help of exercises, a speech therapist strengthens the face and throat muscles.
Children with Cerebral Palsy often experience muscle spasms in different parts of the body. Doctors recommend medication when spasticity is uncontrollable. Medicine like Botox relaxes the muscles and makes it easy for a child to move around.
Muscle contraction is sometimes severe to the point that it causes pain; medicine recommended reduces and treats the underlying cause of pain.
Among the conditions that cerebral palsy medication treats are seizures, respiratory disorders, acid reflux, and involuntary movement.
Stability, strength, and confidence are the key factors that enable a child to live an independent life. However, children with cerebral palsy often lack these attributes making it difficult to carry out daily routine tasks. Amid the darkness, orthotic devices have paved the way towards balance, strength, and confidence.
Orthotics are medical devices that play a significant role in helping children with Cerebral Palsy move. Structural alignment is what most children lack that impacts their movement, balance, and posture; the goal of orthotic devices is to ensure structural support. While orthotic devices come with a standard design, individuals with more personalized needs are most likely to use personally designed orthotics.
Spasticity is the most prevalent side effect of Cerebral Palsy, which increases muscle tone due to involuntary muscle contraction. Orthotics plays its role by reducing the tightening of spastic muscles and minimizing unwanted movements.
Children with Cerebral Palsy often have poor posture, whether it’s due to high or low muscle tone. A trunk brace provides structural support and stability to help individuals overcome the problem of sitting upright. Since orthotics are wearable, they can be taken off anytime they feel uncomfortable.
Individuals with Cerebral Palsy experiencing problems with movement also suffer from growth deficits because of difficulty swallowing or feeding. A healthy diet is required in such circumstances to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
The benefit of having a good nutritious diet is that it helps with cognition, immunity, and blood circulation. A healthy diet for a child with Cerebral Palsy should include calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Vitamin-D-rich foods to improve bone health; fish, orange juice, and cereals are rich in vitamin D. A doctor will recommend specific vitamin or protein supplements based on the needs of patients.
Irrespective of no solution for Cerebral Palsy, there is still hope for individuals to live independently and maintain a quality standard of living. Children with Cerebral palsy are unable to look after themselves, so the parents, with the help of doctors, should ensure that these children are not neglected.
Nobody can predict the likelihood of neurological disorders; however, it is crucial to take precautions, and in a bad turn of events, an individual’s health should be a top priority. Physical therapy, speech therapy, or orthotics are a few ways that could help a child with cerebral palsy to live a quality life.