Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Stem Cell Therapy for Autism

If you’re looking for a good rehabilitation center or ‘stem cell treatment near you’, you’ve come to the right place! At Plexus Neuro and Stem Cell Research Center, we go above and beyond to make sure you have all the right information and treatment options at your fingertips.

In this article, let’s understand in details what is Autism, what is stem cell therapy and how does it work, and more specifically, why stem cell therapy for Autism is effective.

What is Autism?

Autism or target=”_blank”>Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder referring to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive and restrictive behaviors, speech, and non-verbal communication. Often caused due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors, it largely affects the ways in which children with autism perceive, learn, think, and problem-solve. This means that some of them might require considerable support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some instances, be able to live entirely independently.

As a parent, if you notice any of the symptoms of Autism in your child such as delayed developmental milestones, inability to meet the eye, lack of babbling, lack of response to the child’s name being said, and so on, the first step is to get an assessment done by an expert to get a confirmed Autism diagnosis. After evaluating your child’s symptoms and assessing the sensory systems, a treatment program can be customized pertaining to the child’s needs.

Treatments for Autism usually include a combination of Stem Cell Therapy, Behavioral management therapy, Cognitive behavior therapy, Educational and school-based therapies, Medication treatment and Occupational therapy. Of these, Stem cell treatment is believed to be the most effective for children with Autism.

What is stem cell therapy?

On a generic level, stem cell therapy (also known as regenerative medicine) is what promotes the repair response of diseased, dysfunctional, or injured tissue using stem cells or their derivatives. Stem cells are the body’s raw materials — cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated. Stem cell treatment involves the following stages:

  1. Pre-treatment checks: Before starting the therapy, the patient needs to undergo blood tests, medical history checks and other clinical evaluations in order to qualify for the stem cell therapy.

  2. Collection: Types of stem cells are collected and prepared in various ways. For example, stem cells can be collected from donor placentas, umbilical cords or bone marrow. They can also be collected directly from the patient’s own bone marrow, or fat.

  3. Cultivation: After collection, some stem cells might need to be cultivated and grown into desired cells in a laboratory for a few weeks.

  4. Injection: The cells are injected into the patient’s vein or spinal canal. Depending on the patient’s condition, the number of injections and the course of the treatment is determined.

  5. Follow-up: A monthly follow up is recommended.

How Stem Cell Therapy is used in the treatment of Autism

To get a better understanding of Stem cell treatment for Autism, it is important to first know that the process of stem cell therapy involves injecting stem cells into the patient, which leads to a considerable reduction in inflammation and improvement in the characteristics of the condition.

There are many kinds of stem cell treatment in India depending on the type of stem cells used, quality of treatment, overhead costs, expertise of the surgeons and other such factors. Unlike typical forms of Autism treatment therapy, stem cell treatment targets the core disease pathology and essentially involves harvesting the cells either from the patient, mixing it with growth factors and hormones as needed, and then injecting or infusing the cells through controlled doses over several days or weeks. The more these cells are administered, the better they can gravitate towards the damaged area and heal it. After the treatment, considerable improvement in behavior, anxiety, social skills, communication, speech, and ability to focus, has been reported in patients with Autism.

But how does it really work?

In stem cell therapy, researchers normally grow stem cells in a lab. These stem cells are manipulated to specialize into specific types of cells, such as heart muscle cells, blood cells or nerve cells. These specialized cells can then be implanted into a person. To treat autism, the adult stem cells come from human umbilical cord tissue (allogeneic mesenchymal). Umbilical cords are donated by mothers after normal, healthy births. Before they are approved for treatment, all umbilical cord-derived stem cells are screened for viruses and bacteria.

Umbilical cord-derived stem cells are ideal for treating autism since they can be administered in uniform doses, and they do not require any stem cell collection from the patient, which can be an arduous process for autistic children and their parents. Since they are collected right after birth, umbilical cord-derived cells are much more potent than their “older” counterparts like bone marrow-derived cells, for instance.

Is stem cell therapy effective in autism?

Several clinical trials have demonstrated the efficacy of Stem Cell Therapy in Autism and it is rapidly becoming a favored treatment option in India, to help children with Autism develop the functional abilities they need. It is minimally invasive and a safe option that can significantly reduce your child’s symptoms, and comes with plenty of advantages.

For one, the body’s immune system is unable to recognize umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells as foreign, and therefore, the chances of the cells being rejected are nearly down to zero. Furthermore, the stem cells with the best anti-inflammatory activity, immune modulating capacity, and ability to stimulate regeneration can be screened and selected. Additionally, the umbilical cord tissue provides an abundant supply of mesenchymal stem cells, and allogeneic stem cells can be administered multiple times over the course of days in uniform dosages. What’s more, there is no need to administer any chemotherapy drugs like granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF or GCSF) to stimulate the bone marrow to produce granulocytes and stem cells, and release them into the bloodstream.

To summarize, Stem Cell Therapy for Autism has been recognised as an effective way to address the root physiological causes of Autism for all ages, and can potentially even reverse several of its symptoms. At Plexus Neuro and Stem Cell Research Center in Bangalore, we are committed to ensuring that your child can get the most from recent advances in Autism treatment. Our experienced stem cell therapists make use of autologous bone marrow stem cells to treat patients with Autism. By extracting cells from the patient’s own body, we eliminate the risk of any side effects that may occur when third-party cells are injected into the body.


If you’re looking for the best stem cell therapist, or a good stem cell center in Bangalore for neurorehabilitation, you should most certainly visit Dr Na’eem Sadiq.

The Importance of a Sensory Diet for Children with Autism

Do you ever catch yourself fidgeting during a meeting or going for a walk in the middle of the day to stay alert? When you do these things, you’re providing the necessary sensory input that your body needs, to remain focused and attentive throughout the day.

For children with autism who have sensory processing issues, these needs are even more intense. Without proper exposure to stimuli, children can struggle with being organized, demonstrating the right behavior, or even paying attention to their surroundings. A child with autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) displays problems in social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Some typical signs and symptoms seen in children with autism include them avoiding eye contact, not responding to their name, not smiling back, repetitive movements or rocking their body, getting very upset or overwhelmed with certain tastes, smells or sounds.

Occupational therapists, Wilbarger and Wilbarger (1991), created the concept of a sensory diet, which is an individualized plan of physical activities and accommodations to help a person meet their sensory needs, and stay focused and organized throughout the day. For instance, calming and stimulating activities involving minimal time and materials, like crumpling newspaper, cutting plastic straws, popping bubble wrap, or “taste tests” in the kitchen, act as a great sensory diet for toddlers.

How does a sensory diet work?

A sensory diet is a carefully planned routine or series of physical activities executed by an occupational therapist, and tailored to give each child the required amount of sensory processing development. They design the routine of activities to fit the child’s schedule, taking into consideration the age, severity of the condition, and other important factors. It includes a combination of textures, smells, visual cues, and exercises that ensure the child receives a multitude of stimuli.

Activities that involve swinging, jumping, spinning, or running are great vestibular input, which is alerting to the sensory and nervous system. Completing a routine can help children with autism, pay more attention to studies, learn new skills, and socialize with other children. While the sensory system continues to develop until the age of approximately 7, children are sufficiently stimulated even with 10-minute breaks about every 2 hours, by the time they reach age 10.

Why is a Sensory Diet Important?

A sensory diet for toddlers or for a child with Autism, provides regular opportunities to receive the stimulation that they need to function. A sensory diet can be established and then modified over time to keep up with the shift in the child’s sensory processing changes or environmental demands. As they learn to self-regulate their emotions and reactions, they develop important life skills such as empathy, concentration, generosity, and patience. This enables a child to move from depending on others to becoming more independent and managing tasks or situations by themselves.

Symptoms of sensory processing issues

Like many illnesses, the symptoms of sensory processing disorder exist on a spectrum. Lack of sensory processing development may affect one sense, like hearing, touch, or taste. It may also affect multiple senses, and children with autism could be over- or under-responsive to the things they have difficulties with.

Children with sensory processing issues may:

  • Be uncoordinated
  • Bump into things
  • Be unable to tell where their limbs are in space
  • Be hard to engage in conversation or play

Many children with sensory processing disorder start out as fussy babies who become anxious as they grow older. These kids often don’t handle change well. They may frequently throw tantrums or have meltdowns. For some, the sound of a vacuum cleaner may cause them to vomit or dive under the table. They may recoil from the textures of certain foods, while others could seem unresponsive to anything around them. They may fail to respond to extreme heat or cold or even pain. Many children have symptoms like these from time to time, but therapists consider a diagnosis when the symptoms become severe enough to affect normal functioning and disrupt everyday life for them.

Who can benefit from a sensory diet?

As we have seen, a sensory diet is a tailored program to address the sensory needs of children that helps them to attend, learn, and behave better. These skills go on to form the foundation of preschool and school readiness. There are multitudes of different activities that can help achieve a better sensory input balance for children, however, different activities help with different types of processing difficulties. The children with ASD benefiting from the sensory diet, learn to:

  • Attend to daily tasks and important learning experiences
  • Regulate alertness
  • Limit sensory seeking or avoiding behaviors
  • Handle stress
  • Help a person learn to deal with challenging situations

How can you tell if a child would benefit from a sensory diet?

Although children with ASD are often overstimulated and require help to calm down or feel more alert, they are not always able to recognize when they must step back. In fact, parents are advised to consistently implement a sensory schedule to allow their children to become more self-aware and exercise increasing self-control.

A sensory diet for toddlers or for a child diagnosed with autism, includes these components that can surely be extremely beneficial:
Physical components – Most children tolerate movement better than any other type of sensory input. The activities below, use the core muscles that result in a greater amount of sensory stimulation, and include:

  • Wheelbarrow walking and somersaulting
  • Animal-themed walking (e.g. bear walks, crab walks, frog jumps)
  • Using a trampoline
  • Mock wrestling
  • Sandwiching between soft items such as pillows or balls
  • Wearing a heavy backpack for movement
  • Playing with a weighted rice bag on the lap or a heavy blanket when sleeping

Tactile components – Playing with clay, slime, sand, shaving cream, birdseed, rice, or any other tactile products allows the child to get accustomed to various types of physical textures.

Visual components – Using torches to look at books, using dot-to-dots or mazes to narrow visual attention, and using solid colors in the child’s room are all good examples of a visual sensory diet.

Oral components – Specific toys or foods can be used to supply sensory input to the mouth, jaw, and lips.

Auditory components in the form of ‘white noise’ or music through a player or noise reduction headphones.

Treatment Options for Children with Autism
Currently, the best autism treatment involves a holistic approach to ASD which includes one or more of the following:

  • Medication
  • Stem Cell Therapy
  • Occupational therapy intervention: sensory integration therapy, behavior retraining therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, social skills training
  • Speech Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Parents are encouraged to seek medical help and support for both their children and themselves. While the best Autism treatment offers a full-fledged plan that addresses the symptoms of the children as well as educates parents and caregivers about the management of symptoms and needs of their child, with a little bit of patience and care, a sensory diet can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience for the children as well as the parents involved. If you’re looking for a good Stem Cell Research centre in Bangalore for treatment of Autism , you should visit Dr Na’eem Sadiq.

Know the Difference Between Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease are two neurodegenerative disorders, which are progressive and are often mistaken for each other. They have quite a few similarities as well as differences, and it is also possible for patients to have both the conditions simultaneously. For instance, Multiple Sclerosis disease treatment focuses on slowing the progression of the disease, while Parkinson’s Disease treatment focuses on managing the symptoms.

Check out this quick guide about the similarities and differences between the two conditions to help patients avail the best Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis treatment on time.

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis

Parkinson’s Disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative conditions in the world. It primarily damages the dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. Trained or well-experienced neurologists can diagnose PD based on early signs and symptoms, which include tremors, issues with balancing, stiffness or rigidity in the torso, legs, or arms.

On the other hand, Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. It is an autoimmune demyelinating disease, which means the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues — in this case, the myelin, or protective covering around nerve fibers. This leaves scarred tissues or lesions in multiple areas, disrupting electrical impulses throughout the body. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve impulses slow or even stop, causing neurological problems.

Multiple Sclerosis typically affects patients between the ages of 20 and 50, whereas the symptoms of Parkinson’s usually show beyond the age of 60 and more. Furthermore, the outlook for Parkinson’s Disease treatment as well as Multiple Sclerosis treatment varies, since there is no definitive Parkinson’s Disease cure. While no single test can be used to diagnose both these conditions, PD focuses more on managing the symptoms and is known to not be reversible. Lifestyle changes, medications, and supportive therapies can always improve issues related to body movement.

Parkinson’s vs. Multiple Sclerosis

The signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease can be observed primarily in the tremors or rhythmic shaking of a limb, hand, or fingers, followed by slowed movement (bradykinesia), rigid muscles, impaired posture, and balance, along with loss of automatic movements. In fact, the most early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease include changes in speech, writing, sleeping patterns, moving, walking, loss of smell, or constipation. Multiple Sclerosis, on the other hand, has a few unique symptoms such as dizziness, double vision, tingling sensations in the body, hearing loss, seizures, and others.

Here’s a brief look at some of the differences between Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis:

Symptoms:

Parkinson’s Disease symptoms can be observed in tremors, slow movements, muscle stiffness, and balance problems.

Multiple Sclerosis symptoms vary significantly and are unpredictable. They include fatigue, trouble with walking, and vision problems.

Causes

Parkinson’s Disease is caused due to a loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain, in addition to genetic and environmental factors.

Multiple Sclerosis causes include genetic and environmental factors. There is a loss of the myelin cells that surround the brain nerves and spinal cord, due to an autoimmune reaction.

Diagnosis

No single test can define the diagnosis for PD. It is clinically done by a doctor based on the signs and symptoms. A DaTscan may be used to show evidence of loss of dopamine-producing cells

No single test can define the diagnosis for MS. Diagnosis is primarily done by ruling out other potential conditions and examining the signs and symptoms.

Treatment

Parkinson’s Disease treatment includes medications to control the symptoms, along with lifestyle changes and therapies to improve movement.

Multiple Sclerosis treatment doesn’t need any therapy in particular, although therapies do help to manage the symptoms. Corticosteroids also help to control inflammation.

However, treatments like Stem Cell therapy and Occupational therapy are known to be viable options for PD as well as MS, and can help patients to improve skills, stay active in their daily life, and slow the progression of these diseases.

Can Parkinson’s be misdiagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis?

Both Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease affect the brain and the central nervous system, which leads to changes in the way you move, talk, and interact with the world. They can both affect a person’s physical and cognitive functioning, and typically have more severe physical effects that can be seen, particularly during the early stages of the diseases.

The symptoms of MS and PD are quite similar, and have several common symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty with walking and sleeping
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination and balance issues
  • Shaky fingers, hands, or lips
  • Numbness or weakness in the limbs
  • Spastic limb movements
  • Loss of muscle control in first one side of the body and then the other
  • Urinary issues and loss of bowel control
  • Depression and anxiety

While it can be easy to mistake the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease for Multiple Sclerosis and vice versa, it is important to remember that Parkinson’s Disease treatment and Multiple Sclerosis treatment can vary to a large extent. Even though Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease caused by autoimmunity, recent research suggests that it is also associated with HLA-DR, and that the genetic variant associated with Parkinson’s disease is in the same region as the one associated with Multiple Sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system starts attacking and destroying the myelin coating around nerve fibers, whereas Parkinson’s Disease occurs when the brain produces small amounts of dopamine that control movement, due to a genetic predisposition or exposure to certain toxic chemicals. Getting a timely diagnosis and the best Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis treatment can lead to early intervention and better restoration of functionality.

While these neurological diseases primarily affect your brain and spinal cord, they have similar symptoms, even though they require different treatments. For a proper diagnosis, visit your family doctor or a neurologist. If you’re looking for a good neuro and Stem Cell Research centre in Bangalore or Hyderabad for neurorehabilitation, you should visit Dr Na’eem Sadiq.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)

Gullain_Barre_Syndrome

Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a rare neurological disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves. This autoimmune disease can affect the peripheral nervous system, and can lead to weakness and paralysis that could possibly last for months or even years. Let’s take a closer look to better understand how GBS is diagnosed, its symptoms, causes and treatment options.

Understanding Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a rare syndrome in which the nerves of the body are attacked by the body’s immune system itself. Usually the first few symptoms of this condition include weakness and tingling. These sensations can spread fast, and can ultimately paralyze the entire body. In its advanced stages, GBS can also be considered a medical emergency, and most of the people affected must be hospitalized in order to receive proper medical care.

How is Guillain-Barré Syndrome diagnosed

The diagnosis for Guillain-Barre Syndrome is usually difficult in its early stages. Its signs and symptoms are very similar to those of other neurological disorders, and your doctor or physician is likely to recommend a spinal tap (lumbar puncture), electromyography, and nerve conduction studies for the initial assessment.

Symptoms of GBS

Numbness, tingling, weakness and pain are some of the initial symptoms, which usually begin in the longest nerves of the body. It first affects the feet and then the hands, resulting in an ascending paralysis. This is called the “stocking-glove” pattern. These may spread to the upper body and arms, and in some cases, symptoms may begin in the arms or face. Muscle weakness may give way to paralysis as GBS progresses.

Here are some of its common signs and symptoms:

  • Sensation of prickling pins and needles in the fingers, toes, ankles, or wrists
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Unsteady walking or inability to walk or climb stairs
  • Difficulty with eye or facial movements, including speaking, chewing, or swallowing
  • Severe pain that may feel achy or cramp-like that worsens at night
  • Difficulty with bladder control or bowel functions
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low or high blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing

GBS Causes

The exact cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome has not yet been discovered, although, more often than not, it is preceded by an infectious illness, such as a respiratory infection or a stomach flu. This condition usually occurs days or weeks after a respiratory or digestive tract infection. On rare occasions, a surgery or immunization has also given rise to GBS, and some cases have recently been reported after getting the Zika virus.
In case of the Guillain-Barre Syndrome, our immune system attacks the nerves. Here are some of the triggers:

  • An infection with campylobacter (a type of bacteria often found in undercooked poultry)
  • Influenza virus
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Zika virus
  • Hepatitis A, B, C and E
  • HIV, the virus that causes AIDS
  • Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Surgery
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Rarely, influenza vaccinations or childhood vaccinations

Guillain-Barré Syndrome Treatments

GBS can be treated with integrative approaches. Stem cell therapeutics are especially brought into Guillain-Barré syndrome treatment protocols to address the demyelinating polyneuropathy, progressive weakness, and the multitude of systemic diseases that follow. One of the most comprehensive and effective GBS treatments is stem cell therapy. In this, pluripotent stem cells repair the nerve tissue in the brain and balance the immune system. With each injection, self-healing mechanisms are triggered and this stem cell type simultaneously addresses the autonomic dysfunction, the autoimmune responses, the demyelinating forms, and the axonal degeneration.
The aim of any treatment for Guillain-Barré Syndrome is not just to improve balance and mobility, or reduce muscle stiffness and muscle spasms, but it is also to prevent worsening weakness and difficulties in breathing. For this, a rehabilitative treatment i.e. Multidisciplinary care i.e. delivery of coordinated care with clearly identified goals within a specified time period, using at least two disciplines (medicine, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dietetics and other allied health professions) could be beneficial.
Improved respiratory care and new treatment strategies such as plasmaphoresis and immunoglobulin are also starting to make headway and improving outcomes. Physical therapy has also proven to be useful to many patients. A rehabilitation plan is crucial in recovery, and may include physical and other types of therapy to rebuild a patient’s strength and restore their mobility and other functions.

What happens if Guillain-Barré Syndrome goes untreated?

The symptoms can quickly worsen and can be fatal, if left untreated. In severe cases, people with Guillain-Barré Syndrome develop full-body paralysis, which can be life threatening if the paralysis affects the diaphragm or chest muscles, preventing proper breathing.

Does Guillain-Barré Syndrome go away?

Most people eventually do make a full recovery from the Guillain-Barré Syndrome, however, this can sometimes take a long period of time. Around 1 in 5 people end up having long-term problems. Most people recover within a year though.

What to expect after Guillain-Barré Syndrome symptoms treatment?

Up to 22% of people with GBS need temporary help from a machine to breathe in the first week when they’re hospitalized for treatment. Most people recover completely or have minor, residual weakness like numbness or tingling. Recovery after the treatment lasts for 6 to 12 months, though for some people it could take as long as three years.

When to see a doctor?

If the tingling in your toes or fingers seems to be spreading or getting worse, you can set up an appointment with your general practitioner to rule out the condition. Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of these below-mentioned signs or symptoms:

  • Tingling that starts in your feet or toes, and is now moving to the upper body
  • Tingling or weakness that is spreading rapidly
  • Difficulty catching your breath or shortness of breath when lying flat
  • Choking on saliva

The Guillain-Barré Syndrome should not be taken lightly as it is a serious condition that can worsen fairly quickly. The sooner the right treatment is initiated, and with the right physician, the better the chance of a good outcome.
For any treatment inquiries or more information on the Guillain-Barré Syndrome, do not hesitate to reach out to us. If you’re looking for a good Stem Cell Research centre in Bangalore for neurorehabilitation, you should surely visit Dr Na’eem Sadiq.

Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinsons_Stages

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. Tremors are a common sign of Parkinson’s, but can easily progress to uncontrollable shaking, lack of coordination, and speaking difficulties. Symptoms are known to set in gradually, sometimes with slight tremors in just one hand, and may worsen as the disease progresses.

Like most neurological conditions, not all people with Parkinson’s will experience all the symptoms or with the same severity, or speed. Physicians have established certain stages of Parkinson’s Disease, known as the Hoehn and Yahr Scale, that elucidate how the disease progresses. These stages are used by physicians all over the world to classify patients.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a brain condition that primarily impairs the dopamine-producing neurons in an area of the brain called substantia nigra, causing unintended or uncontrolled movements. Dopamine plays an integral role in regulating body movements, so a reduction in its levels could be the cause for many of the symptoms. One of the most common motoric neurodegenerative diseases, Parkinson’s Disease is also known as the “Shaking Palsy”. It is generally diagnosed based on one’s symptoms, medical history, and a detailed physical examination. Let’s get a better understanding of Parkinson’s Disease symptoms and Parkinson’s Disease treatments.

Early stages of Parkinson’s Disease

The stages of Parkinson’s Disease can be broken down into five phases, based on the observed symptoms. Parkinson’s Disease treatments also vary according to the signs of Parkinson’s Disease.

  • Stage one of Parkinson’s Disease

    In this stage, the symptoms of the disease appear in a milder form and are only seen on one side of the body. It is called unilateral involvement, wherein the functional impairment may be minimal or nil. As the signs of Parkinson’s Disease are mild, the person affected may not seek medical attention and physicians may be unable to reach a very clear diagnosis. Symptoms at this stage may include tremors, such as intermittent tremor of one hand, one leg may feel clumsy compared to the other or one side of the face may feel distorted, impacting the expression. It is usually very difficult to arrive at a diagnosis at this stage and the physician may wait to see if the symptoms worsen over time before coming to a formal diagnosis.

  • Stage two of Parkinson’s Disease

    This stage is considered pretty early in the stages of Parkinson’s Disease, and is characterized on both sides of the body. This is called bilateral involvement. Symptoms can affect the midline without impairment to balance. It may take months or years for symptoms to progress from stage one to two. The symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease in this stage may include loss of facial expression on both sides of the body, soft voice, monotone voice, fading volume after speaking loudly, slurring speech, stiffness, or rigidity of the muscles in the trunk that may result in neck or back pain, stooped posture, and general slowness in all daily activities. However, the patient may still be able to perform all their daily activities independently. The doctor can arrive at a diagnosis easily if the patient has tremors. But it should be noted that if stage one was missed, and the only symptoms of stage two are slowness or lack of spontaneity of limbs, then Parkinson’s may be misinterpreted as simply advancing age.

  • Stage three of Parkinson’s Disease

    In this stage of Parkinson’s, the prominent symptoms are loss of balance and slowness of movement. Balance is compromised significantly by not being able to make the rapid, automatic, and involuntary adjustments necessary to prevent falls. The affected person may fall frequently in this stage. All other symptoms of Parkinson’s may be evident and a general diagnosis can be made with conviction at this stage. In many cases, the doctor will examine the impairments in reflexes by standing behind the patient and gently pulling the shoulders to know if the patient has trouble maintaining balance and falls backward (the doctor of course will not let the patient fall). An important aspect of stage three is the patient can still independently do their daily living activities, such as dressing, maintaining hygiene, and eating.

  • Stage four of Parkinson’s Disease

    In this stage, Parkinson’s has progressed to a severely disabling disease. The patient with stage four may still be able to walk and stand unassisted, but they are visibly incapacitated. Many of them seek the assistance of a walker to move around. Independent living is almost impossible in this stage and needs assistance with some activities of daily living. The necessity for help to live is the important feature of this stage.

Final stage of Parkinson’s Disease

The fifth stage is the most advanced stage among all the signs of Parkinson’s Disease, and is characterized by an inability to rise from a chair or get out of bed without assistance. Patients are prone to fall while standing or turning. They may even freeze or stumble when walking. Round-the-clock care is needed at this stage to prevent falls and help the patient do daily activities. Hallucinations and delusions might also happen in this stage.

The time taken for PD to progress from one stage to another, varies from individual to individual. Moreover, not all symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease may be evident in one individual. For example, one person may have hand tremors, but may still be able to maintain balance. Quality treatments are available to handhold the patient through every stage of the disease. The earlier the diagnosis, and the stage at which the disease is diagnosed, the more effective the Parkinson’s Disease treatment is at alleviating Parkinson’s Disease symptoms.

What to expect at the end stage of Parkinson’s Disease?

Among the five stages of Parkinson’s Disease, in the end-stage, the patients experience non-motor symptoms. These can include incontinence, insomnia, and dementia, thereby making the Parkinson’s Disease treatment tricky. Some medications used to treat Parkinson’s Disease are also known to cause hallucinations, although this is seen more frequently if the patient also has dementia.

What happens in late stages of Parkinson’s Disease?

When patients reach the later stages of Parkinson’s Disease, they tend to have severe posture issues in their back, neck, and hips. Parkinson’s Disease treatments are likely to involve a wheelchair, since patients are often unable to stand on their own without falling and some of them might also be bedridden. In the end-stage, patients tend to experience non-motor symptoms. Furthermore, advanced stiffness in the legs can also freeze upon standing, making it impossible to stand or walk.

While there is no one specific test to conclusively diagnose Parkinson’s disease, a neurologist or physician trained in nervous system conditions, will diagnose Parkinson’s disease based on your medical history, a review of your overall signs and symptoms, followed by a neurological and physical examination. If you’re looking for a good Stem Cell Research centre in Bangalore for neurorehabilitation, you should definitely visit Dr Na’eem Sadiq.

What’s the difference between ALS AND HIRAYAMA’s disease?

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Understanding Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a nervous system disorder wherein the motor neurons in your brain and spinal cord don’t function properly. The nerve cells break down, thereby reducing functionality in the muscles and owing to this loss of muscle control, voluntary movements like gripping, walking, swallowing, talking and sitting are affected, and in some severe cases, breathing too. ALS is also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the baseball player who was diagnosed with it.

 Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Symptoms

In most cases, ALS is genetic. If your parents or grandparents had a similar medical history, there is a chance that you could inherit too. Poor environmental conditions or exposure to toxic substances, stress, and regular smoking or heavy drinking habits can also cause or induce ALS. The symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis are prominently visible when a person’s muscles twitch or when they experience weakness in their limbs, when they can’t move, or they have trouble eating, breathing, or speaking. What starts with muscle weakness, eventually spreads and gets worse over time.

Some of the signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in performing daily chores or activities
  • Tripping, clumsiness and falling
  • Mood swings and behavioral changes
  • Muscle cramps and twitching in your arms, shoulders and tongue
  • Weakness in your legs, feet, ankles or hands
  • Slurred speech and trouble swallowing
  • Inappropriate crying, laughing or yawning
  • Cognitive and behavioral changes
  • Inability to hold objects and have a proper grip

Understanding Hirayama’s Disease

Hirayama’s Disease is a non-progressive juvenile spinal muscular atrophy that gradually progresses into the atrophy of the muscles in the arms and forearms. Also known as MonoMelic Amyotrophy (MMA), this cervical injury is characterized by muscular weakness and atrophy of distal upper limbs, followed by spontaneous arrest within several years. It is known to primarily affect the lower cervical cord, and more often than not, it is diagnosed in men or male adolescents.

Hirayama’s Disease Diagnosis

To a large extent, Hirayama disease is regarded as an idiopathic condition, which means that it does not have any known causes. Clinical observations, however, do show that excessive movement (flexion) of the neck in the upper cervical region causes the membrane covering the spinal cord to become lax. This anterior displacement of the spinal cord results in its compression, and thereby, becoming damaged. This leads to the various symptoms that characterize Hirayama disease.

Doctors can diagnose it with EMG and NCS to help distinguish Hirayama’s Disease from other similar disorders.

Hirayama Disease Causes and Symptoms

The exact causes of Hirayama’s Disease are not known but certain symptoms are visible, namely, not having too much strength in your arms or neck, and not being able to hold things due to severe weakness in the hands and fingers.

  • Hand muscle weakness and weakened grip
  • Hand muscle wasting
  • Hand muscle cramps
  • Cold hand
  • Clawed hand
  • Twitching of the hand
  • Hand tremors
  • Loss of fine motor control

Differentiating between ALS and Hirayama’s Disease

When a patient presents with weakness and wasting of one limb or particularly an arm, neurologists are faced with a considerable diagnostic challenge. Usually, the specter of the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis form of motor neuron disease (ALS/MND) is often considered, but in case of a differential diagnosis, Hirayama disease is also considered, given that it is a juvenile muscular atrophy of distal upper extremity, involving C7-T1 myotomes that also results in weakness and atrophy of intrinsic muscles of the hand and the forearm. 

Hirayama disease (HD), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Cervical Spondylotic Amyotrophy (CSA) are all likely to result in atrophy of the intrinsic hand and forearm muscles. However, HD is caused by a benign focal lesion that is limited to the upper limbs. 

Given that ALS is characterized by the degeneration of the upper and lower motor neuronal systems, it is caused by the degeneration of the motor neuron in the brain. Furthermore, ALS is a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time. As your muscles get weaker, it affects all muscle related movements. 

ALS Treatment

Stem cell therapy is considered a viable treatment option for ALS, since stem cells can sustain and nurture the diseased motor neurons. Stem cells are known to seek out damaged cells in the body and replace them, which is why stem cell transplants are used to protect a patient’s healthy neurons, as well as to potentially grow new cells.

On a generic level, medication and therapy can also slow down ALS and reduce discomfort to a large extent. With barely any guaranteed treatments to reverse the damage caused to motor neurons, some activities can prevent future complications:

  • Medication can help relieve muscle cramps
  • Exercise for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis includes breathing exercises, moderate swimming, walking, bicycling and similar activities that can work on degenerated muscles
  • Speech therapy
  • Good dietary nutrition

Hirayama Disease Treatment

It is said that Hirayama Disease cures on its own, with or without any specific treatment, given that it is a self-limited disease. Regular physiotherapy can surely help to restore strength in the arm and hand muscles, and prevents joint stiffness and immobility. 

That said, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy can play a prominent role in strengthening the muscles and improving fine motor skills. Stem Cell Therapy is also known to be effective, since stem cells can multiply and can make the copies of other cells. The latest advancements in the treatment of the Monomelic Amyotrophy have suggested that Stem Cell Therapy repairs and regenerates mechanisms in the body, and mesenchymal stem cells administered in people with Hirayama Disease, can halt or at least slow down the deterioration of muscle weakness and wasting. 

Other treatments include wearing a cervical collar that will gradually reduce neck flexion or alternatively, muscle-strengthening physiotherapy exercises that can improve the strength of hand muscles. Surgical treatments (once confirmed after an MRI) involves an operation of the cervical spine followed by the insertion of a small disc. 

FAQS

What diseases are like ALS?

Diseases that are like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) are:

  • Primary lateral sclerosis (PLS)
  • Kennedy syndrome
  • Multifocal neuropathy
  • Muscular atrophy
  • Inclusion body myositis
  • Thyrotoxic myopathy
  • Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome
  • Lyme disease

How long does Hirayama disease last?

Hirayama’s Disease could last for about 1-5 years since the first time it starts showing. It is a self-limiting disease, so it may also be cured automatically. 

What is the most common first symptom of ALS?

The first few frequent symptoms of ALS include:

  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Difficulty with speaking properly
  • Difficulty with grasping or holding things
  • Difficulty with breathing and talking
  • Twitching 

Who is most likely to get ALS?

Studies have proven that men are more likely to get ALS than women. And top of that, military personnel and athletes are more likely to get diagnosed with this. Mainly because of the harmful environmental exposure they live in. Though genetics play a significant role, who is most likely to get ALS is still a topic scientists are exploring.

Why is ALS becoming more common?

ALS is becoming common because of the lifestyle we’re leading. Exposure to environmental toxins in the brain increases susceptibility to motor neuron disease with the added stress. Even a high level of exercise can trigger ALS.

To summarize, the prognosis is good in Hirayama’s disease compared to other forms of motor neuron diseases with less morbidity and prolonged survival. The primary principle of treatment continues to be a restriction of neck flexion. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, on the other hand, is heralded by progressive muscle weakness, paralysis and death. With early detection and intervention, you can keep the symptoms well under control and enjoy all the activities you love.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4216382/

https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/508994

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/crinm/2016/5839761/

What is Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis?

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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurodegenerative disease that interferes with the brain’s ability to control the body. It develops when our immune system attacks the insulation on the nerve cells called myelin, and this can damage the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS) is a form of disease that is characterized from the beginning of the disease as a progressively worsening condition. About ten percent of all multiple sclerosis patients have reported being diagnosed with PPMS, so let’s get a better understanding of how this works.

Understanding Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Doctors believe that any kind of MS happens when the human body attacks itself, like in the case of any autoimmune disease. In MS, the immune system damages the protective coating around the nerves in your brain and spinal cord, which causes inflammation. However, there’s little inflammation in PPMS, meaning nerve damage is the primary problem here. Areas of scar tissue form along the damaged nerves in the brain and spinal cord, thereby preventing them from sending and receiving signals the way they should. 

For a better understanding, there are four main types of MS:

  • Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)
  • Primary-progressive MS (PPMS)
  • Secondary-progressive MS (SPMS)
  • Progressive-relapsing MS

Each of these types could be mild, moderate, or severe since MS affects different people differently.

Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Since this disease primarily affects the nerves in the spinal cord, the main PPMS symptoms usually include:

  • Walking problems
  • Weak, stiff legs
  • Headaches, pain in the legs, feet, or back 
  • Muscle spasms
  • Trouble with balance
  • Speech or swallowing issues
  • Vision problems
  • Fatigue and pain
  • Bladder and bowel trouble

Most people usually go to see a doctor when their legs are weak or if they are having trouble walking. Some of the PPMS early symptoms include tingling sensations and numbness usually in the face, arms, legs, and fingers. They are normally one of the most common warning signs of MS. 

Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

In case of PPMS, neurologic functions steadily start worsening on the onset. There are no symptom flare-ups right away, or any recovery (remission). The progression of the disease may vary and sometimes things could even be stable, with periods of short-term, minor improvements that are temporary. But on the whole, the decline in neurologic progression remains constant.

PPMS is known to get worse over time, although how fast or how much tends to vary, and can be hard to predict. For this reason, it can be hard for doctors to diagnose PPMS. One could have symptoms for a few years, but no major flares, before doctors can tell that they are getting worse. Notably, about 10% to 15% of people with multiple sclerosis have this form. Those who do, are usually diagnosed later in life than people with other types.

Here are the methods that your healthcare provider might use to diagnose MS:

  • Discussion: The healthcare provider will talk to the patient about their symptoms.
  • Physical exam: This is conducted to see how the patient’s muscles and nerves are functioning.
  • MRI scans of your brain and spinal cord: These images will help the healthcare provider to look for signs of damage that might suggest MS.
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT): This test measures nerve fibers in the retina.
  • Spinal tap (lumbar puncture): The healthcare provider takes a sample of spinal fluid to check for signs of MS.
  • Visual evoked potentials (VEP): This test is done to see how well the patient’s optic nerves are working.

After the general diagnosis of MS, the diagnosis of PPMS is based almost exclusively on the patient’s symptom history. Therefore, it may take time for the PPMS diagnosis to be made.

It is also found that relapsing forms of MS (including Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, and secondary progressive in those individuals who continue to experience relapses) are defined by inflammatory attacks on myelin. In PPMS, much lesser inflammation of the type is seen in relapsing MS. As a result, people with PPMS tend to have fewer brain lesions than people with relapsing MS, and the lesions tend to contain fewer inflammatory cells. Furthermore, people with PPMS also tend to have more lesions in the spinal cord than in the brain. Together, all these differences make PPMS more difficult to diagnose and treat than relapsing forms of MS.

Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Treatments

Physical and occupational therapy works wonders for Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation, although Stem Cell Therapy, specifically the administration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has demonstrated great potential to help improve symptoms. The immunomodulatory (ability to regulate the immune system), tissue-protective and repair-promoting properties of MSCs demonstrated in multiple models make them a lucrative therapy for MS and other similar conditions. Patients can expect an increase in energy, flexibility, strength, mobility, and control of basic function. Recent data also shows that mesenchymal stem cells administered intravenously may have the ability to halt disease progression for an extended period.

While traditional therapy often includes medications to prevent relapse and disease progression, regenerative therapy is an effective solution for many. It rejuvenates the body and bypasses adverse side effects associated with medications. Regenerative therapy allows the body to repair itself and may replace damaged nerve cells with new ones. On the whole, healthcare providers are likely to provide treatments that can relieve one’s symptoms and improve the quality of life. These may address problems such as depression, sexual problems, and extreme tiredness (fatigue). Exercise is also good for all types of MS. It can help one stay active and mobile, control one’s weight and give more energy while also boosting one’s mood. Brisk walking, swimming, stretching and strengthening will improve the range of motion and can get the heart pumping. The patient will also need to meet the healthcare provider on a regular basis to monitor the disease and its symptoms. 

FAQs

How long can a person live with primary progressive MS?

People with advanced forms of MS are usually at a greater risk for life-threatening complications, and this can surely lead to a shorter life expectancy. A study published in 2017 reported that the average life expectancy for people with PPMS was 71.4 years.

Who gets primary progressive multiple sclerosis?

Primary progressive MS is typically diagnosed when someone is in their 40s or 50s. Men and women are evenly affected. In fact, about 10% of people diagnosed with MS have PPMS. The earliest symptoms usually begin by ages 35-39. People with relapsing-remitting MS typically move into the secondary progressive phase about the same time as others are diagnosed with primary progressive MS.

Is there any treatment for primary progressive MS?

PPMS is not known to have any definitive cures, but it is not considered fatal either. All current treatments for PPMS are focused on managing the symptoms and increasing daily functioning. This said, stem cell therapy and regenerative rehab are known to be extremely beneficial to patients with PPMS.

Is primary progressive MS the worst kind?

Secondary progressive MS (SPMS), the stage of MS after relapsing-remitting MS, is considered the worst for many people. With this type of MS, your disability gets steadily worse. Some might also argue that “Fulminate MS” is a rapidly progressive disease course with severe relapses within five years after diagnosis, and this form may need to be treated more aggressively than other forms.

Can progressive MS be fatal?

MS, by itself, is rarely fatal. However, complications due to the disease can impact a person’s life expectancy.

References:

https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/p/–primary-progressive-multiple-sclerosis-ppms.html

https://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/Types-of-MS/Primary-progressive-MS

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/multiple-sclerosis-ms/primary-progressive-multiple-sclerosis

https://www.webmd.com/multiple-sclerosis/primary-progressive-multiple-sclerosis

What are the different disorders under autism spectrum disorders?

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Autism refers to a broad range of conditions that are characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and non-verbal communication, largely impacting the nervous system and affecting the overall cognitive, emotional, social, and physical health of the affected individual. Let’s take a closer look at autism and understand the types of autism spectrum disorder.

Understanding Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autism is a developmental disorder caused by neurological differences in the brain that affect the way they behave, communicate, interact, and learn. The abilities of such people can vary significantly and they often need a lot of help in their daily lives to function efficiently.

ASD begins before a child turns 3 years old, and can last throughout their life, although symptoms may improve or be better managed with time. Some children show ASD symptoms within the first 12 months of their life, and sometimes, the symptoms may not show up until 24 months of age, or even later. When these children become adolescents, they may have difficulties developing and maintaining friendships, communicating with peers, or even understanding what behaviors are expected in school or on the job. The signs of an Autism Spectrum Disorder are then brought to the attention of healthcare providers, because some of them could also have conditions like anxiety, depression, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. 

Symptoms of Autism

People with ASD have different ways of learning or paying attention, which have the potential to make life very challenging. Social communication, and restricted or repetitive behaviors, are one of the first signs that are seen. Here are some other characteristics that are observed in children and adults with ASD:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Not displaying too many emotions or facial gestures
  • Delayed language skills
  • Delayed motor skills
  • Delayed cognitive or learning skills
  • Hyperactive, impulsive, or inattentive behavior
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorder
  • Unusual eating and sleeping habits
  • Gastrointestinal issues (e.g., constipation)
  • Unusual mood or emotional reactions
  • Anxiety, stress, or excessive worry
  • Lack of fear or more fear than expected

Autism Diagnosis

Diagnosing ASD can be difficult since there aren’t any definitive medical tests, or a blood test to diagnose this disorder. Doctors observe the child’s behavior, symptoms, and their overall development in order to make a diagnosis. 

Types of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Given the wide variation in the severity and types of ASD symptoms, there are different types of Autism Spectrum Disorder, including the primary ones, i.e. Austistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

  • Autistic Disorder

Referred to as “classic” autism, people with autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social, and communication challenges, unusual behaviors and interests, and some also have intellectual disability.

  • Asperger Syndrome

They usually have milder symptoms of Autism i.e. social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. A child with level 1 spectrum disorder will have above-average intelligence and strong verbal skills, but might experience challenges with social communication, with the following symptoms:

  • Inflexibility in thought and behavior
  • Challenges in switching between activities
  • Flat monotone speech, the inability to express feelings in their speech, or change their pitch to fit their immediate environment
  • Difficulty interacting with peers at school or home
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

Sometimes called “atypical autism” or “subthreshold autism”, PDD-NOS is a mild type of autism that presents a range of symptoms such as delays in language development, walking, and other motor skills. The most common symptoms are challenges in social and language development.

  • Rett Syndrome

Rett syndrome is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder that is noticed in infancy. The disorder is known to affect more girls than boys, and presents challenges that affect almost every aspect of a child’s life:

  • Loss of standard movement and coordination
  • Challenges with communication and speech
  • Breathing difficulties in some cases

 

  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)

CDD is also known as Heller’s syndrome or disintegrative psychosis. This neurodevelopmental disorder is defined by delayed onset of developmental problems in language, motor skills, or social function. Childhood disintegrative disorder is more common in boys, and regressions start quite abruptly in more than two developmental aspects of their life. The child is likely to lose any of the following skills and abilities:

  • Toileting skills, if they had already been established
  • Acquired language or vocabularies
  • Social skills and adaptive behaviors
  • Some motor skills

 

  • Kanner’s Syndrome

Discovered in 1943, Kanner’s syndrome was characterized as an infantile autism. Children with Kanner’s syndrome will appear attractive, alert, and intelligent with underlying characteristics of the disorder, such as:

  • Lack of emotional attachment with others
  • Communication and interaction challenges
  • Uncontrolled speech
  • Obsession with handling objects
  • A high degree of rote memory and visuospatial skills with major difficulties learning in other areas

ASD Treatments

The treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder, at this moment, aim to reduce the patient’s symptoms that interfere with their day-to-day functioning and improve the overall quality of life. Stem Cell Therapy is proven to be very effective, and can improve behavior, anxiety, social skills, communication, speech as well as ability to focus. For best results, ASD treatments are likely to involve more than one approach, some of which are:

  • Behavioral approach
  • Developmental approach
  • Educational approach
  • Social-Relational approach
  • Pharmacological approach
  • Psychological approach
  • Complementary and alternative approaches

Some approaches focus on changing the behaviors by understanding the cause and consequence of the behavior. A notable behavioral treatment for people is Applied Behavior Analysis, which encourages desired behaviors and discourages undesired behaviors to improve a variety of skills. 

Some other approaches focus on improving specific developmental skills, such as language skills or physical skills. Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy are also reportedly quite effective, since they teach the relevant skills to help the person live as independently as possible. Occupational therapy also includes Sensory Integration Therapy, Behavior Retraining Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Social Skills Training. 

FAQs

Are there different types of autism?

Yes, there are five major types of autism which include Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Kanner’s syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified.

Is OCD a type of autism?

No, Autism and OCD are two different conditions.

Is Autism a type of learning disability?

Autism is not a learning disability. They could both be lifelong conditions, but are not the same. Nearly half the people with autism could also have a learning disability.

What type of mutation causes autism?

Inherited mutations in a gene called ACTL6B lead to autism, epilepsy and intellectual disability, according to a new study. The mutations are recessive, which means that they lead to autism only if a person inherits them in both copies of the gene — one from each parent, who are silent carriers.

Management of autism depends on the type of autism and the severity of symptoms. Some types can be managed through behavior modification while some others with social training. Some would require more substantial support, such as occupational therapy. Your family doctor will guide you on the specific treatment options that will be most beneficial to your child.

References

https://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/autism-spectrum-disorders

https://www.integrityinc.org/what-are-the-5-types-of-autism/

https://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/wcfh/Pages/autism/spectrum.aspx

Multiple Sclerosis Differential Diagnosis

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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disease that affects the central nervous system and attacks the healthy tissue, just like a virus or bacteria. When the myelin sheath around the nerve fibers is damaged in multiple areas, it leaves a scar. Several scars or lesions like these, cause the nerve fibers to break or become damaged, thereby disabling the body from carrying out certain functions. Let’s take a look at some of the MS symptoms, MS diagnosis, and the differential diagnosis for multiple sclerosis.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an acquired idiopathic, inflammatory demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) in which the myelin sheath is disrupted due to genetic and environmental factors. The affected areas include the brain stem, cerebellum, spinal cord, optic nerves, and white matter in some areas of the brain. This can lead to behavioral changes, problems with mobility and balance, fatigue, pain, bowel problems, and depression.

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Given that MS affects the brain and the spinal cord, which in turn, controls all the actions of our body, some of the earliest symptoms include: 

  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness and tingling in the face, body, arms, or legs
  • Lhermitte’s sign (a shock-like sensation when they move their neck)
  • Difficulty emptying their bladder or need to urinate frequently 
  • Bowel problems and constipation
  • Fatigue, vertigo or hampering a person’s ability to function at work 
  • Sexual dysfunction 
  • Spasticity and muscle spasms
  • Double or blurred vision, or even partial or total loss of vision
  • Emotional changes or mood changes

The symptoms, intensity, and duration may differ from person to person, and over the course of the disease, may also depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. For some, it starts with a subtle sensation, and their symptoms do not progress for months or years. For some others, the symptoms can worsen rapidly, within weeks or months. In the later stages, people may also experience changes in perception and thinking, as well as sensitivity to heat.

MS Diagnosis

The diagnostic criteria for multiple sclerosis has been evolving since the 1950s, and to a large extent, the diagnosis primarily depends on the medical history and neurological examinations. Clinical findings that may be seen in MS, can also be mimicked by some infectious, neoplastic, genetic, metabolic, vascular, and other idiopathic inflammatory demyelinating disorders (IIDD). The aim of all the defined criteria is to establish the dissemination in space and time of the clinical picture caused by the lesions in the central nervous system (CNS) and to rule out other diseases which might mimic MS. 

Multiple Sclerosis Differential Diagnosis

In most cases, diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis is difficult. Clinical evidence of lesions disseminated in time and space and/or spinal fluid changes, usually leave little reason for doubt. However, a rogue ESR rate or an unexpected symptom of a fever, rash, or headache gives rise to doubt, resulting in the study of a differential diagnosis for multiple sclerosis. One of the most important paraclinical tests to confirm the diagnosis is Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This can both present the nature of the lesions (inflammatory and demyelinating characteristics) for differential diagnosis, and the distribution of the lesions within the CNS.

This noninvasive kind of imaging test is used to detect MS activity in the brain and spinal cord by healthcare professionals. Given that It is the best imaging tool available to both diagnose and monitor Multiple Sclerosis, MRI findings have notably shown that over 90% of people with an MS diagnosis have had it confirmed by this scan. It is safe, non-invasive, and can detect MS activity early on, sometimes even before an individual experiences any worsening symptoms. Healthcare professionals may use a chemical contrast dye called gadolinium to improve the brightness of MRI scan images, which is injected into a person’s vein just before the scan starts.

Multiple Sclerosis Treatments

Treatments such as stem cell therapy, physical therapy, and aerobic exercises can greatly help in slowing the progression of the disease, thereby reducing the number and the severity of the relapses. Autologous Stem Cell Therapy has shown considerable promise in reducing the symptoms and increasing the time between MS relapses. As part of their treatment, patients may also need to intensify the Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy that they were undergoing for Multiple Sclerosis.

Primary treatment options normally include medications to delay the disease progression, that may be given orally, by injection, or as an infusion by your doctor. The duration and frequency of the treatment depend on the drug, its application, and if there are any adverse effects.

Doctors may also recommend mobility aids like walkers and wheelchairs to get around safely.  Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis can also be extremely beneficial to improve the overall fitness, endurance, and strengthening of muscles. 

FAQs

What mimics multiple sclerosis?

Fibromyalgia, Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder (NMOSD), Small vessel ischemic disease, Sarcoidosis, Vitamin B12 deficiency, migraines, Spondylopathies, Conversion, and psychogenic disorders, Vasculitis, Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM) mimics the symptoms of MS.

There are also multiple infectious entities that mimic MS, that include progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), Toxoplasmosis, Tuberculosis, Herpes Simplex Virus, Cytomegalovirus, Varicella zoster virus, Epstein Barr virus, Cryptococcus, and Human immunodeficiency virus.

What can mimic MS on an MRI?

Migraines and chronic cerebrovascular diseases, cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts, and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) can very easily mimic MS on an MRI. Furthermore, vasculitic autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and Sjögren’s syndrome can lead to white matter abnormalities on MRI.

Does MS have a positive ANA test?

An antinuclear antibodies test (ANA) can produce positive results, which means that antinuclear antibodies were found in your blood. However, it is also noteworthy that a positive result does not necessarily mean that you will have MS; it is purely an indicator.

How do you rule out MS?

A spinal tap (lumbar puncture) and blood tests usually help to rule out MS on a preliminary level, or the symptoms similar to MS, followed by medical history, neurologic exam, and lab tests that confirm the absence of MS.

What other symptoms have MS but no lesions?

Common symptoms like numbness, vertigo, fatigue, cystic acne, body spasms, or even burning feet can lead to MS, without any lesions showing up in the scan. 

Getting a correct diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can be a challenge. Not everyone might have all the common symptoms of MS, and some of the symptoms might also resemble those of some other conditions, such as Sjögren’s syndrome, Behçet’s disease, optic neuritis, “Idiopathic” transverse myelitis, Foix-Alajouanine syndrome, or clinicopathological variants like Marburg disease. Identifying MS and determining the final diagnosis is vital to knowing the right treatment choice to be able to prevent any long-term disability. 

Reference links:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/ms-mri

https://www.nationalmssociety.org/For-Professionals/Clinical-Care/Diagnosing-MS/Differential-Diagnosis

https://jnnp.bmj.com/content/71/suppl_2/ii9

https://www.nationalmssociety.org/For-Professionals/Clinical-Care/Diagnosing-MS/Differential-Diagnosis

How to treat Motor Neuron Disease with Stem Cell Therapy?

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Motor neuron disease (MND) is a group of diseases that gradually and progressively damages the motor nerves in the brain and spine, resulting in loss of their function over time. Also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), it is a rare neurodegenerative disease. MND occurs when specialized nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, called motor neurons, stop working properly. This leads to muscle weakness, and hampers important muscle activities, such as gripping, walking, speaking, swallowing, and breathing. Let’s understand the stem cell treatment for MND.

Understanding Motor neuron disease (MND)

Motor Neuron diseases are a rare but severe form of neurodegenerative disease that cause the motor nerves in the spine and brain to lose function over a span of time, due to a combination of environmental, lifestyle, and genetic factors. 

Normally, messages or signals from nerve cells in the brain are transmitted to nerve cells in the brainstem and spinal cord, and from them to the muscles in the body. When the muscles cannot receive signals from the lower motor neurons, they begin to weaken and shrink in size or might also begin to spontaneously twitch. Over time, individuals with MNDs may lose the ability to walk or control other movements. The two main types of motor neurons are upper motor neurons (UMN) and lower motor neurons (LMN).

MND Symptoms

Being a progressive disease, the symptoms of Motor neuron Disease usually start slow and worsen over time. The symptoms are divided into three stages – early, middle and advanced. The progression of the disease varies in speed and severity from person to person. The specific symptoms depend on the type of MND and the area of body that it affects.

Signs and symptoms in the early stage:

  • Weakened grip, making it difficult to hold and pick up objects
  • Muscle pain, cramps, and twitching
  • Weakness in arms and legs, leading to clumsiness and stumbling
  • Fatigue
  • Slurred speech and difficulty swallowing
  • Breathing trouble
  • Weight loss due to loss of muscle mass
  • Inappropriate emotional responses

Signs and symptoms in the middle stage:

  • Shrinking of muscles
  • Joint pain
  • Difficulty in movement
  • Drooling and problems with swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Changes in personality and emotional states
  • Memory and language problems

Signs and symptoms in the advanced stage:

  • Little or no movement
  • Trouble talking and swallowing
  • Severe breathing problems
  • May develop dementia
  • Some people may also experience insomnia, anxiety, and depression

As the condition progresses, the symptoms become more severe. Persons with extremely advanced MND symptoms need assistance in carrying out basic functions. The disease can become life-threatening. This disease can become life-threatening and can be fatal if the individual also has breathing problems.

MND Diagnosis

It is often difficult to diagnose motor neuron diseases in their early stages as the symptoms may seem similar to other conditions, such as Multiple Sclerosis

A neurologist examines the person thoroughly by running a series of tests before determining MND, some of which are:

  • Blood and urine tests
  • MRI scan
  • EMG (electromyography) and NCS (nerve conduction study)
  • Muscle biopsy
  • Lumbar puncture or spinal tap

MND Treatment

The condition of the prognosis varies, depending on the patient’s type of MND and the age of symptom onset. Supportive and symptomatic treatment can surely help the people affected by this disease feel more comfortable while maintaining a reasonable quality of life. One can take assistance from multidisciplinary clinics consisting of specialists from varied departments such as neurology, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and respiratory therapy. These specialized departments help create a safe and comforting environment for individuals who suffer from MND and provide much-needed medical support from the onset till the progression phase of the disease. 

Stem cell therapy for MND

Stem Cell Therapy is a potent approach for treating MND and its vitalizing effects, both paracrine and somatic, along with ease of availability make a very strong case for using these cells for therapeutic purposes. This treatment helps to improve the repairing mechanism of diseased, dysfunctional, or injured tissue with the help of stem cells. It is proven to mitigate symptoms, slow the progression of the disease, improve the quality of life and increase survival. 

Stem cell treatment involves a process where stem cells are grown in a lab and manipulated to specialize into specific types of cells with specific functions. These specialized cells are then implanted into the person who requires the treatment. These stem cells help fight neurodegeneration and have the capacity to self-renew, regenerate the cell, and repair the damaged tissue. The advantage of stem cell therapy for motor neuron diseases is that the beneficial effects of this therapy do not just affect the cells, but are also beneficial to trophic interventions. Apart from mitigating the symptoms of traumatic injuries, autoimmune, inflammatory, neurological, and orthopedic diseases, it also helps to reduce inflammation and delay its progression.

FAQs

Can stem cells cure motor neuron disease?

Stem cells in stem cell therapy are beneficial in managing the symptoms, slowing down the progression of the disease, and generally improving the quality of life of those with MND. Disease treatment in India, if done on time, can generally always be safe and effective.

What is the best treatment for motor neuron disease?

A combination of medications and various types of therapies can prove to be quite effective in the treatment of Motor neuron diseases. Effective therapies include stem cell therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech therapy, and respiratory therapy.

How close are they to finding a cure for MND?

There is no definitive cure for Motor Neuron Diseases just as yet. However, researchers are hoping to find a cure for MND within the next decade.

How are stem cells used to treat motor neuron disease?

Stem cells used in stem cell treatment help to repair damaged cells and fight neurodegeneration. After being implanted in the body, stem cells help to self-renew and regenerate the damaged cells. With the help of this process, stem cells eventually help to slow down the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life.

What is the cost of stem cell therapy in India?

The cost of stem cell therapy depends on the type of transplant. The cost of stem cell therapy for the treatment of MND in India may vary from 4 to 6 lakhs. 

If you’re looking for the best treatment for MND, one of the new MND treatments on the block is surely Stem Cell Therapy. Dr. Na’eem Sadiq (Founder of Plexus in Bangalore and Hyderabad) is a well-renowned neurologist and stem cell specialist in Bangalore. With more than 32 years of experience in Clinical Neurophysiology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Stem Cell Therapy, and Neurology, Dr. Na’eem has a team of doctors that can help you find the perfect treatment for your diseases.

Reference Links:

https://www.eurostemcell.org/motor-neuron-disease-how-could-stem-cells-help

https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/69052

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3154698/

Difference between Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple System Atrophy

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Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is an age-related disorder that primarily impairs the dopamine-producing neurons in a part of the brain, causing uncontrolled movements. If we compare Multiple System Atrophy and Parkinson’s Disease, they appear to be the same and while they can both affect the nerves, MSA can break down the myelin that surrounds and protects the nerves. Let’s take a deeper dig into understanding Multiple System Atrophy vs Parkinson’s disease.

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive motoric neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system (also known as the “Shaking Palsy”) that primarily affects muscle control and motor skills. Research suggests that the cause for this is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. While there aren’t any medical tests to conclusively confirm a definitive cure for Parkinson’s disease, the diagnosis is generally based on one’s symptoms, medical history, and a detailed physical examination. Parkinson Rehabilitation includes Amplitude Training, reciprocal movement patterns, balancing, stretching, and strength training. Additionally, here are some Exercises for Parkinson Disease. 

Understanding MSA

Multiple system atrophy is an atypical parkinsonian syndrome that shares a number of similarities with PD. In fact, Multiple System Atrophy-Parkinsonian type (MSA-P) is a rare condition that causes symptoms similar to Parkinson disease. Both MSA and Parkinson’s disease are degenerative diseases of the nervous system that affect movement and start to worsen over time. Overall, the early signs and symptoms are more or less similar, so it can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart, especially in the early stages. However, as MSA further progresses, it is likely to affect multiple neurologic systems, thereby leading to autonomic dysfunction, parkinsonism and/or cerebellar dysfunction

Clinical features and symptoms of MSA

While the severity of MSA worsens, the range of symptoms also vary dramatically. It is important to note that people with MSA typically have a set of symptoms of parkinsonism, such as slowness, stiffness, tremor, and problems with walking and balance that are also present in PD. They can also have dysfunction in the cerebellar system, namely, the brain system that controls accuracy of movements. Due to the variability of symptoms, MSA is often divided into two major categories: MSA-P (parkinsonian type) and MSA-C (cerebellar type). 

All the people with MSA surely have autonomic failure, or dysfunction in neurologic systems that control the automatic processes of the body such as blood pressure, urination, sweating, and bowel function. In fact, about one half of people with MSA-P have lost most of their motor skills within 5 years of onset of the disease.

Here are some of the symptoms of MSA:

  • Tremors and rigidity
  • Difficulty with movements in balance and walking
  • Muscle aches and pains, and stiffness
  • Mask-like appearance of the face, while staring
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing (occasionally), not able to close the mouth
  • Disrupted sleep patterns 
  • Dizziness or fainting when standing up or after standing still
  • Erection problems
  • Loss of control over bowels or bladder
  • Problems with activities that require fine motor skills
  • Loss of sweating in any part of the body
  • Decline in mental function
  • Nausea and problems with digestion
  • Posture problems, such as unstable, stooped, or slumped over
  • Changes in vision, voice, and speech

Multiple System Atrophy vs Parkinson’s disease

In general, both diseases progress differently in different people. It can be challenging to differentiate between MSA vs Parkinson’s, given that MSA can manifest with mild parkinsonism and autonomic dysfunction, early in the course of the illness. 

People with MSA-P are known to have widespread damage to the part of the nervous system that controls important functions such as the heart rate, blood pressure, and sweating. However, if we have to pinpoint one difference between Parkinson’s and MSA, it would be the fact that, even though both of them seem to have some connection with environmental contaminants, the key difference continues to be that the nerve destruction in Parkinson’s tends to occur in the areas of the brain that control movement, whereas MSA affects the autonomic nervous system. That said, people normally tend to develop MSA in their 50s and 60s, and the disease often progresses faster than it does with Parkinson’s, which often emerges after the age of 60. 

MSA Treatments

The possible treatments for MSA usually focus on controlling symptoms and maximizing the quality of life. One promising approach for MSA is Stem Cell Therapy. Proven to be extremely effective, it can help to improve a person’s symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. Stem cells are immature cells that are capable of developing into many different cell types. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are derived from the bone marrow and are used to treat several diseases, including some neurodegenerative disorders. Growth factors secreted by MSCs have been shown to protect nerve cells against MSA, conferring resistance to the MSA disease process, and also stimulating the regeneration of nerve cells.

Occupational therapy adds value to the lives of people with MSA by improving self-perceived performance in daily activities. Occupational therapy aims to make day to day life easier by increasing knowledge around symptom management and by supporting decisions around the choice and timing of equipment, home adaptations and care until the end of life.

There are other courses of treatment similar to PD as well:

  • Parkinsonism: Physical therapy (PT) can be vital to maximize functions
  • Orthostatic hypotension can be treated in the same ways that it is treated when it is a symptom of PD. These measures include:
  • Implementing dietary changes to increase fluid and salt intake 
  • Avoiding foods that lower blood pressure  
  • Changing head position slowly to allow more time for blood pressure to adapt
  • Elevating the head of the bed at night
  • Wearing compression stockings or an abdominal binder
  • Urinary dysfunction can also be treated (as with PD) by strengthening the muscles that control the bladder through PT and pelvic floor exercises, and occasionally using medications for an overactive bladder. 
  • Bowel dysfunction can also be treated (as with PD) by optimizing the diet so that it helps with constipation, exercising, and daily activity. 
  • Speech and swallow difficulties can be improved by implementing the relevant therapy.

FAQs

What is MSA disease?

MSA is a rare neurodegenerative disorder without too many known treatments in slowing down or stopping the disease progression. It is characterized by poor levodopa-responsive Parkinsonism, cerebellar ataxia, pyramidal signs and autonomic failure in any combination.

Is MSA a Parkinson’s disease?

Multiple System Atrophy-Parkinsonian type (MSA-P) is surely the type, yes. On the whole, MSA is often mistaken for Parkinson’s, as it tends to present similar initial symptoms. Many patients are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease first, but over time, the extent, severity, and type of symptoms change, making a diagnosis of MSA more likely.

What is the difference between PSP and MSA?

Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) are sporadic, atypical parkinsonian disorders, wherein the nerve destruction in PSP tends to occur in the areas of the brain that control movement, whereas MSA affects the autonomic nervous system. 

What are the first signs of multiple systems atrophy?

Most often, the first clinical symptom a patient will note will be lightheadedness, dizziness, and episodes of passing out, however, the first symptoms in some patients may include difficulty initiating movement, body stiffness, urinary incontinence, and increased falls.

Can MSA be misdiagnosed?

Its symptoms often mimic those of Parkinson’s disease and ataxia, so the chances of MSA being misdiagnosed are quite high. However, the symptoms can be managed, which is why it’s important to be evaluated and treated by physicians who have experience dealing with MSA.

What are the two types of atrophy?

Muscle atrophy (the wasting or thinning of muscle mass) has three types: physiologic, pathologic, and neurogenic.

In a nutshell, even though Parkinson’s Disease and MSA, are both characterized by deposits of alpha-synuclein in the nervous system, and b

parkinsons-disease-multi-system-atrophy-3-scaled.jpg
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oth these conditions specifically affect cells that produce dopamine thereby causing many of the same motor dysfunctions, PD and MSA affect people very differently. Often, these diseases don’t even progress to advanced stages. However, it is always helpful to do your research and know about the various symptoms and treatments, to know what to expect and lead fulfilling lives.

Reference links

https://parkinsonsdisease.net/answers/multiple-system-atrophy-vs-pd

https://www.apdaparkinson.org/article/planning-for-the-what-ifs-multiple-system-atrophy/

https://jnnp.bmj.com/content/73/5/51

Occupational Therapy in Cerebral Palsy

occupational-therapy-in-cerebral-palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that is caused due to abnormal brain development, often before birth. It is a disorder affecting movement, muscle tone, and/or posture. Symptoms usually appear by early childhood, such as exaggerated reflexes, floppy or rigid limbs, and involuntary motions. Long-term treatment includes physical therapy, prescription drugs, and sometimes surgery. Therapies like speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc. can also play an important role in improving overall functioning.

Understanding Cerebral Palsy

The word “cerebral” means relating to the brain, while “palsy” means weakness or problems relating to muscle and its movement. Therefore, cerebral palsy affects the part of the brain that controls the ability to move muscles. The causes and effects of cerebral palsy vary from person to person. Some people can have mild symptoms such as problems with muscle control, while others can have severe symptoms such as inability to walk, intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, etc. Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disease that affects children before birth (“congenital” cerebral palsy) or can develop even after birth (“acquired” cerebral palsy).

The four main types of cerebral palsy are as follows:

  1. Spastic Cerebral Palsy: This is the most common type, affecting almost 80% of the patients. It affects the muscles, making them stiff (spastic), causing exaggerated reflexes and muscle spasms. It often entails walking abnormalities and may sometimes lead to paralysis.
  2. Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy: This type causes problems in controlling body movements. The muscles either become too tight or too loose. Movements of the arms and legs become involuntary, jerky, or even slow and writhing. This causes difficulty in movements such as sitting, crawling, or walking. In some cases, it may also affect the face and the tongue, making it difficult to frown, eat, or talk.
  3. Ataxic Cerebral Palsy: This is the least common type. This form of cerebral palsy affects the balance and coordination of the person. It affects movements such as walking and fine motor skills such as grasping objects, writing, etc.
  4. Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy: This type greatly reduces the muscles tone, making them overly relaxed and floppy. The weakened muscles make it difficult to sit up straight. Children affected by this type may have trouble breathing, speaking, have poor reflexes or walking abnormalities.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy: Some people may experience symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy. In most cases, it is a combination of spastic and dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Causes and Symptoms of cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy usually occurs before birth and in some cases, at birth, or early infancy. It is caused due to abnormal brain development, or damage caused to the developing brain. In most cases, the causes are unknown, but there can be many factors that can contribute to problems related to brain development. Some of these factors include:

  • Maternal infections that can occur in the womb, directly affecting the fetus.
  • Gene mutations that cause problems during brain development and lead to genetic disorders.
  • Head injuries due to accidents, falling, or child abuse.
  • Bleeding in the brain (intracranial hemorrhage).
  • Brain infections leading to inflammation in or around the brain.
  • Lack of oxygen reaching the brain during labor and delivery.
  • Severe jaundice in infants.

The symptoms of cerebral palsy may differ greatly from person to person. Cerebral palsy can affect the whole body, one side of the body, or just one or two limbs. The symptoms can vary depending on which part of the brain is affected. The effects of cerebral palsy tend to become more obvious when the child is growing or developing motor skills. The symptoms can differ from person to person, ranging from very mild to very severe. Some of the common symptoms of cerebral palsy include:

  • Muscle movement disorders such as stiff muscles (spasticity), exaggerated reflexes, tremors, or involuntary jerking movements.
  • Lack of muscle coordination and balance (ataxia).
  • Variations in muscle tone, where muscles become too stiff or too floppy.
  • Difficulty in walking.
  • Difficulty in the development of fine motor skills such as sitting up, crawling, holding onto and picking up objects.
  • Delay in speech development. 
  • Difficulty in eating, excessive drooling, and problems with swallowing.
  • Delayed growth. 
  • Intellectual disabilities. 
  • Neurological problems such as seizures (epilepsy), abnormal touch, or pain sensations, etc.
  • Bladder and bowel problems.
  • Mental health issues such as behavioral problems and mental disorders.

Treatment for cerebral palsy

Treatments could vary depending on the type and the severity of the symptoms. Medications, assistive aids, therapy, and surgery can greatly help in managing symptoms, relieving pain, and making the child independent in performing daily chores and activities, thereby improving the quality of life. Even though cerebral palsy cannot be cured, a combination of treatments can greatly help the child in achieving a long and healthy life. 

Apart from medications, various types of therapies such as Stem Cell Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, etc. can be included in the treatment program. Of these, Stem Cell Therapy is notably an emerging treatment for a variety of conditions, including cerebral palsy. Given its process of utilizing stem cells in the body that have the ability to grow and change into other types of cells, Stem Cell Therapy is a crucially important treatment and is also known as regenerative medicine. 

Many physicians will probably recommend Physical Therapy for children with cerebral palsy, regardless of how minor or severe the disorder is. Physical Therapy is also considered to be another important form of treatment for children with cerebral palsy. However, research increasingly suggests that Occupational Therapy is significantly beneficial for children with cerebral palsy in a number of ways. By optimizing upper body functions and improving the coordination of small muscles, Occupational Therapy can help children with CP master the basic activities of daily living.

Occupational Therapy and Cerebral Palsy

(CP-OT)

Occupational therapy (OT) for Cerebral Palsy (CP) involves developing one’s ability to perform daily functions and activities. CP occupational therapy aims at improving one’s strength, dexterity, and coordination when performing day-to-day activities. It also helps in improving cognitive abilities such as decision-making, problem-solving, reasoning, perception, memory, etc. In this way, simple day-to-day tasks such as eating, bathing, brushing teeth can be performed with relative ease. 

Benefits of Cerebral Palsy Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy for cerebral palsy helps to ensure the maximum capacity of functional performance in day-to-day activities, which helps to enhance the quality of life and helps the person to live life as independently as possible.

Occupational therapy for CP can help with issues in various ways:

  • Performing everyday tasks independently
  • Adapting better to abilities
  • Developing thinking and learning skills
  • Coping and responding to the demands and challenges of everyday life
  • Coping with emotions and adapting

Various techniques and exercises are used in occupational therapy with cerebral palsy. Some of these exercises and techniques include:

Improving fine motor control: These exercises improve hand dexterity. Simple exercises such as grasping and sorting toys, sorting coins, and making jewelry are practiced to improve hand muscle strength, finger isolations, thumb opposition and pincer grasp, in-hand manipulations, etc.

Upper body strength and stability activities: These activities focus on strengthening and stabilizing the trunk and upper body. Simple activities that increase strength and improve balance such as crawling, playing catch while kneeling, lying on the tummy and reading are also carried out.

Bilateral coordination: This focuses on improving control of both sides of the body at the same time. Activities and movements such as pulling apart constructive toys, catching a ball with two hands, riding a bike, etc. can be helpful.

Improving visual motor skills: These activities help in improving hand-eye coordination. Activities include drawing, stringing beads, catching and throwing the ball, etc.

Visual perception: These activities help in improving the ability to understand, evaluate and interpret what one sees. Activities like playing with puzzles, shape and color matching games, connecting the dots, etc. contribute to improving this skill.

Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT): CIMT involves restraining the stronger counterpart of the body so as to improve the ability to move the weaker part. For example, restraining the stronger arm so that the weaker arm can perform activities independently.

Sensory Integration Therapy: This therapy helps to improve the ability to use all the senses together – touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing – thus improving the ability to receive, register, interpret, and act on the information that the brain receives through sensory receptors. These activities include playing with play dough, sand and water, finger paints, etc.

FAQs

  • What activities help cerebral palsy?

Activities improving the child’s fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, balance, visual, and sensory perception can help with cerebral palsy. Activities may include drawing, playing puzzles, playing with play dough, catching and throwing the ball, etc.

Spasticity of the muscles can be reduced by increasing the range of motion, flexibility, and increasing the strength of muscles. Occupational therapists help to reduce spasticity by recommending activities that include positioning, muscle stretching, motor-level stimulation, sensory stimulation, etc. 

  • What kind of therapy is done to improve grip for a child with cerebral palsy?

Activities that help to improve fine motor skills and hand dexterity can be used to improve the grip of a child with cerebral palsy. These activities can include simple tasks like picking up and sorting toys, eating with a spoon, picking up and sorting smaller objects such as coins and puzzles, making jewelry such as stringing beads, macaroni, etc.

  • What are the four treatments for cerebral palsy?

Various treatments can be used to manage the symptoms and limit complications of cerebral palsy. The four types of treatments that can benefit cerebral palsy are the use of medications, assistive aids such as eye glasses, hearing aid, walking aids like braces, wheelchairs, etc., surgery and different kinds of therapies such as stem cell therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, behavioral therapy, aqua therapy, massage therapy, etc.

  • How does physical therapy help cerebral palsy?

Physical therapy is an important aspect of treatment for children with cerebral palsy. It greatly helps to increase muscle control, muscle strength, balance, mobility, and flexibility. This helps the child to overcome physical limitations in day-to-day life, helps to reduce physical discomfort and pain and helps the child to perform activities independently. 

In conclusion, it is greatly beneficial to combine treatments to improve the overall health and functioning of children with cerebral palsy. Along with medications, it is worthwhile to make use of therapies such as physical therapy, speech therapy, behavioral therapy, occupational therapy for cerebral palsy. These therapies can help children to increase the ability to learn, work and play, make them more independent in performing everyday activities, improve their emotional well-being by boosting their confidence and self-esteem and improve their quality of life in general. 

Sensory problems in Autism

sensory-problems-in-autism

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects behavior, emotions, and sensory processing in various ways. Many children and individuals with Autism have issues with sensory problems, such as aversion to things that overstimulate their senses, namely loud environments, bright lights, or intense smells. These sensory problems are, in fact, now listed as some of the criteria for diagnosing Autism.

Understanding Autism

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that impact social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Usually defined by a certain set of behaviors that affects people differently and to varying degrees, children with Autism often have trouble communicating with others owing to neurological disturbances. This makes it hard for them to form relationships too. 

Characteristic behaviors

Autism typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s self-regulation and interpersonal skills. Many children show a sudden increase in a particular movement when they are experiencing a sensory difficulty, so they might jump, spin, or even crash into things. Similar behaviors like hand flapping, making repetitive noises or rocking back and forth, or even talking faster and louder (or not talking at all) can be seen.

In a nutshell, here are some of the characteristic behaviors observed:

  • Persistent differences in communication and social interaction across different environments
  • Having trouble understanding nonverbal communication
  • Difficulty making and keeping friends
  • Difficulty maintaining a typical back-and-forth conversational style
  • Restricted and repetitive behavior, patterns, and activities, such as repeating sounds or phrases, difficulty with transition or routine, intense interests, extreme sensitivity to various sensory stimuli

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, these features of Autism could be present in early childhood but may not entirely manifest until social demands exceed the person’s capacity to cope with them.

Autism and sensory issues

The term ‘sensory processing issues’ refers to a collection of challenges related to our senses, and was first identified by occupational therapist A. Jean Ayres in the 1970s. These challenges occur when the senses fail to respond properly to the sensory information that the individual perceives, i.e. things that one can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. This difficulty to integrate information from the senses may cause the individual to be overwhelmed or confused. 

Sensory difficulties and related disorders include Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Schizophrenia, sleep disorders, developmental delay, and traumatic brain injury. Of these, a significant number of children with altered sensory processing fall on the Autism spectrum. They tend to have modified neural pathways in their brain, responsible for processing sensory information, although the exact cause of sensory issues in children is not entirely clear. 

Researchers believe that this cause could be linked to the way the sensory pathways in the brain process and organize information. Sensory processing difficulties are common in autistic people, but less is known about whether sensory issues occur entirely on their own, or whether they are caused by some other disorder. Some doctors and healthcare professionals believe that sensory processing issues might be a symptom of another issue, rather than a diagnosis in itself.

Sensory Processing Disorder

While we’ve established that a change in environment can easily trigger a child’s sensory difficulties, children with sensory issues could be hyposensitive or hypersensitive. Some kids need more sensory stimulation, while other kids avoid strong sensory stimulation since they get overwhelmed easily. 

That said, having sensory processing issues isn’t the same thing as having Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, sensory challenges are a key symptom of Autism in many cases. Another neurological disorder where individuals give abnormal responses to sensory information as perceived by them, is the Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). This condition affects how your brain processes stimuli and can affect all your senses, or even just one. Having SPD indicates that you’re overly sensitive to stimuli that other people are not. 

Symptoms and characteristics

The symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder might affect everyone differently. Responses can also range from over- to under-responsive towards certain sensory information. Some children with SPD could react to the sound of cars excessively, causing them to vomit, while some others might react to being touched and might even scream. On the other hand, it’s also possible to have extreme reactions to certain textures or foods.

There is also a possibility that some children may not be responsive to any of the stimuli around them. They might not respond to extreme stimuli, like extreme heat, cold, or even pain. Here are some sensory overload symptoms:

  • Being easily overwhelmed by places and people
  • Being easily startled by sudden noises
  • Being bothered by bright light
  • Refusing to try new foods
  • Insistence on eating only certain foods and sticking to a limited diet 

It’s crucial to note that Sensory Processing Disorder isn’t officially recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5). There is a lack of research-based evidence to support a diagnosis of this disorder on its own since many doctors and experts believe that sensory issues are actually a component of a different condition or disorder.

Sensory integration and Autism

Sensory integration is a term used to describe the processes in our brain that allow us to take in the information that we receive from our five senses, and how it is organized and responded to. Simply put, this means how we experience, interpret and react to (or ignore) information coming from our senses. Sensory integration is important in all the things that we need to do on a daily basis, such as getting dressed, eating, moving around, socializing, learning, and working. Babies smelling their food as they bring it to their mouth and then tasting it, is also another great example of sensory integration.

Sensory integration activities for Autism can prompt the brain to process sensory information more effectively, thereby helping the child respond more appropriately to the environment. Sensory play involves games and activities that stimulate the five senses: sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch.  Here are some sensory play activities recommended for Autism:

  1. Creating a safe space that can help the child deal with sensory processing issues. You can do this by blocking off a corner of a room and using soft furnishings with a variety of textures, or just using a big comfy bean bag! This is an important step in assisting the child to recognize strategies that work for his/her specific needs.
  2. Put a sensory box in the sensory corner for your child to explore or fiddle with, and fill it with objects with different textures and weights. Playing with or touching these objects could be soothing for an overstimulated child, or may calm a child who is wound up and sensory-seeking.
  3. Heavy work activities or proprioceptive activities like pushing a trolley, sweeping the yard, or digging in the garden, help your child to really “feel” their muscles and joints working when involved in such an activity. Weighted vests, weighted blankets, and lap blankets are also effective ways to give passive proprioceptive input.
  4. Finger painting with food and edible items, can help a child’s sensory development and makes for a great training exercise before they start writing.
  5. Making your own slime or playing with scented playdough lets your child explore sensory play, while also developing their fine motor skills.
  6. Making your own musical instruments can stimulate the brain to make new connections and strengthen the existing ones; this can lead to improved mental health and increased cognitive ability.

FAQs

  • What are examples of sensory issues?

  • Being easily overwhelmed by new places and people
  • Being overwhelmed in noisy places
  • Seeking quiet spots in crowded environments
  • Being easily startled by sudden noises
  • Refusing to wear clothes that tend to feel itchy
  • Do sensory issues indicate Autism?

Given that sensory issues affect how your brain processes stimuli, sensory issues are surely known to be a key symptom of Autism. Many people on the Autism spectrum experience similar difficulties, however, it is best that a medical practitioner studies the child’s developmental history and behavior in order to make a diagnosis. 

  • How do I know if my child has sensory issues?

If your child has a hard time gathering and interpreting sensory inputs such as participating in conversation, connecting with others’ thoughts or feelings, and facing difficulty with reading others’ body language and facial expressions well, these are possible indicators of sensory issues. Moreover, difficulty with balance and coordination, screaming, being aggressive when wanting attention, or jumping up and down frequently, can be indicators as well.

  • What is a sensory meltdown?

A sensory meltdown is a fight, flight, or freeze response to a sensory overload, which could be in the form of physical flailing, withdrawing from spaces and events where their peers are present, yelling, crying, kicking, and more. Often mistaken for a tantrum or misbehavior, sensory overload can occur just about anywhere. It can especially play out in newer environments where your child is most sensitive to the sensory information they’re receiving.

  • How do you fix sensory issues?

Treatment for sensory issues is usually done through therapy. Research shows that starting therapy early is key for treating SPD, and can help children learn how to manage their challenges. Therapy sessions need to be led by a trained therapist.

  • Is sensory overload Autism?

Sensory overload is when a person’s senses are overstimulated by outside stimuli. While this can happen to virtually anyone, this sensation is most commonly seen in people who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Sensory Processing Disorder, or other neurodevelopmental disorders, and is even included in the diagnostic criteria for Autism spectrum disorder. The two concepts are not synonymous.

Our senses tell us a great deal about the world around us — through smells, sights, and sounds, and most importantly, how we can be safe. If your child has a hard time gathering and interpreting those sensory inputs, they may show signs of sensory issues. This may include difficulty with balance and coordination, screaming, being aggressive when wanting attention, or jumping up and down frequently. A wide spectrum of treatments is available for children with Autism, such as Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Stem Cell Therapy that can help the child to pick up the skills they need in order to function optimally. 

To conclude, such treatments will help children as well as adults who have sensory issues, to learn to cope with the world around them. The goal of the treatment is and should be to reduce overreactions and to find better outlets for their sensory experiences for a healthier, more positive attitude to life.

Exercises for Multiple Sclerosis

multiple-sclerosis-exercises

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that adversely affects the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Known to have a wide range of symptoms such as fatigue, sexual dysfunction, pain, mood changes, muscular changes, issues with visual sight, bladder and bowel problems, modern treatments are gradually proving effective at slowing down this disease. Let’s take a better look at Multiple Sclerosis and understand the exercises that one can do for a better life.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis means “multiple scar tissues”. It is a chronic neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. Just like a virus or bacteria, MS can attack the healthy tissue, namely, the myelin sheath around the nerve fibres. This causes inflammation, resulting in the brain not being able to communicate properly with the rest of the body. 

When a myelin sheath is damaged in multiple areas, it leaves a scar. These areas are also called plaques or lesions. Development of several lesions can cause the nerve fibres to break or become damaged, thereby disabling the body from carrying out certain functions. The primary affected areas include the brain stem, cerebellum, spinal cord, optic nerves and white matter in some areas of the brain.

Signs and Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Given that MS affects the brain and the spinal cord, which in turn, controls all the actions of our body, some of the earliest symptoms include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness and tingling in the face, body, arms, or legs
  • Lhermitte’s sign (a shock-like sensation when they move their neck)
  • Difficulty emptying their bladder or need to urinate frequently 
  • Bowel problems and constipation
  • Fatigue, vertigo or hampering a person’s ability to function at work 
  • Sexual dysfunction 
  • Spasticity and muscle spasms
  • Double or blurred vision, or even partial or total loss of vision
  • Emotional changes or mood changes

Some of the less common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Itching
  • Respiratory or breathing problems
  • Seizures
  • Speech disorders
  • Swallowing problems
  • Urinary tract infections

The symptoms, intensity, and duration may differ from person to person, and over the course of the disease. The severity of the disease can depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves in particular are affected. For some, it starts with a subtle sensation, and their symptoms do not progress for months or years. Sometimes, symptoms worsen rapidly, within weeks or months. In the later stages, people may experience changes in perception and thinking, as well as sensitivity to heat.

Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis

While there is no known cure for MS, treatments such as medications, physical therapy and exercise can surely help in slowing the progression of the disease, thereby reducing the number and the severity of relapses. 

Primary treatment options include medications to delay the disease progression. A doctor may give some of these orally, by injection, or as an infusion. The duration and frequency of the treatment depends on the drug and its application. During treatment, the doctor monitors and determines the success of the drug, to see if there are any adverse effects. With newer drug options coming into the market, safer and more effective medicines are becoming available.

Several disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) have been approved by the European Medicine Agency (EMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating the relapsing forms of MS. Some of these DMTs include interferon beta (IFNB) 1-a and 1-b, glatiramer acetate (GA), mitoxantrone, natalizumab, fingolimod, teriflunomide, dimethyl fumarate, and alemtuzumab. These therapies reduce the progression of multiple sclerosis, preventing the immune cells from attacking the brain and the spinal cord, thereby changing the way our immune system functions. 

As part of their treatment, patients may also need to intensify the Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy that they were anyway undergoing for Multiple Sclerosis. Doctors may also recommend mobility aids like walkers and wheelchairs to get around safely. In addition, autologous Stem Cell Therapy has shown considerable promise in reducing symptoms and increasing the time between MS relapses.

Some specific symptoms can be treated with other approaches, supplemented with less stressful drugs, as follows:

  • Behavioral changes: A doctor might recommend resting your eyes from time to time, or limiting your screen time, especially if you already have previously existing problems with your vision. An individual with MS may need to learn to rest when fatigue sets in, and to pace themselves so they can complete the intended activities.
  • Problems with mobility and balance: This set of issues can be supported by physical therapy and walk-aiding devices such as canes, crutches etc.
  • Tremors: A person may use assistive devices or attach weights to their limbs to reduce shaking. Certain medications may also help with the tremors.
  • Fatigue: Getting sufficient rest and avoiding the heat can definitely help. Physical and occupational therapy can help teach people more comfortable ways to do things. Assistive devices, such as a mobility scooter, can help conserve energy. Medication or counselling may help boost energy by improving sleep.
  • Pain: A doctor may prescribe anticonvulsant or antispasmodic drugs or alcohol injections to relieve trigeminal neuralgia, i.e. a sharp pain that affects the face. Pain relief medication may help with body pain, while other medications can relieve the muscle pain and cramping prevalent in MS.
  • Bladder and bowel problems: Some medications and dietary changes can help resolve these issues.
  • Depression: A doctor may prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or other antidepressant drugs for depression.

Physical Exercises for Multiple Sclerosis

A common myth about exercise and Multiple Sclerosis, is that exercising might possibly worsen symptoms of MS. However, it has been scientifically proven that exercising actually helps ease the pain by reducing inflammation, fatigue, and improving the overall mood of individuals with Multiple Sclerosis. Exercise is not only highly recommended as a regular part of the treatment, but can also help suppress the symptoms, and slow down the progression of the disease.

Regular but moderate physical exercise can be beneficial when dealing with Multiple Sclerosis. Exercises of various kinds are known to improve the overall fitness, endurance and strengthening of muscles. It also helps to maintain a healthy heart rate and contributes to a balanced physical and emotional well-being, by reducing overall fatigue and inflammation. 

For best results, it is essential to follow a complete fitness program that covers all the required aspects of exercise, some of which are:

  • Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, improves cardiovascular health. Aerobic exercises may include walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming. Approximately 30 minutes of cardio thrice a week should help in improving cardiovascular strength. Water aerobics, i.e. working out in a pool, can also be a great form of exercise for people with chronic illnesses. Exercising in water further helps to improve aerobic capacity and strengthen the muscles.

  • Strength/resistance training

Resistance and strength training helps increase the overall muscle strength. Depending on the overall level of health and fitness, one can start with basic resistance such as body weight, then move up to bands, and then to weights. Strength training bolsters the muscles by retaining muscle mass, which contributes to their healthy functioning. Strength training should be followed two-three times a week.

  • Balance and core exercises

Core and balance training is one of the most fundamental forms of exercise. A strong core helps to maintain a stable body balance, and can be achieved by exercises that focus on controlling the posture and body mass. Basic exercises such as standing on one leg, planks, etc. can largely help to condition the core.

  • Stretching/yoga

Stretching is the preferred exercise for improving flexibility and range of motion. Stretching releases muscle tension and helps to decrease spasticity, muscle tightness and stiffness, and lack of muscle control. Stretching for a minimum of 10-15 minutes a day can greatly benefit muscular stress. In fact, yoga has proven highly beneficial for MS, being a combination of various stretching exercises as well as breathing. 

  • Pilates 

Pilates is a preferred form of core strengthening exercise. It helps to improve balance and condition the muscles. Pilates is known to be an effective exercise for treating medical conditions.

Dos and Don’ts for Efficient Exercising

  • Follow a complete fitness program that includes all areas of exercise.
  • Consult a professional, e.g. physiotherapist and/or a fitness trainer, before designing a fitness regime. 
  • Design a fitness plan by keeping the symptoms, fitness level and overall health in mind.
  • Set a daily routine that incorporates regular exercise in moderation for maximum benefit.
  • Include warm-ups as a standard routine before starting any form of exercise and make sure to cool down after exercising.
  • When starting any new form of exercise, start slow and progress gradually.
  • Do not overdo it. Make sure that you do not exercise beyond your level of fatigue and to an extent that it causes too much strain and pain to your muscles and body.
  • Prevent the body from overheating. Since your body may be sensitive to heat, avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day and drink plenty of cool water. If your body is getting too heated, pause and let it cool down a bit before continuing again. Exercise in a cool room or a cool environment.
  • Try moderations if the exercises get too difficult for you.
  • Do not let fatigue take over; take breaks in-between exercises and get adequate rest. Allow your body enough recovery time on a daily basis.

FAQs

  • What is the best exercise for Multiple Sclerosis?

All basic forms of exercise – aerobic, strength, core and flexibility – that contribute to a healthy heart rate, muscle strengthening, core conditioning, and increasing flexibility of muscles can be included in your exercise plan for Multiple Sclerosis.

  • Can exercise make Multiple Sclerosis worse?

This is a common myth that exercising can worsen Multiple Sclerosis. In reality, exercise does quite the opposite; it will help you strengthen your overall body, improve your health, and aid you with easing the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, while also slowing down the progression of the disease. 

  • Can exercise reverse Multiple Sclerosis?

Even though exercise would not reverse Multiple Sclerosis, it may, however, help in easing the symptoms and helping your body to function in the best possible way.

  • Can exercise trigger Multiple Sclerosis?

Exercise would not trigger Multiple Sclerosis. Even though exercising may seem more challenging than normal, it is proven to be far more beneficial in the long run. The important thing is to not overdo it and consult a professional first.

  • What should I avoid while exercising with Multiple Sclerosis?

When exercising, the main thing to keep in mind is to progress gradually. The golden rule is to not overdo any form of exercise. Avoid exercises that bring severe fatigue and strain to your muscles, and make sure that your body is not overheated. It might also be a good idea to not exercise in hot temperatures.

To conclude, Multiple Sclerosis affects each person differently. If you’re looking for treatment options, it is always best to consult a professional and keep in mind your symptoms, as well as your level of fitness and health. Furthermore, exercise can surely improve your overall physical, mental and emotional well-being. It can also prove to be a fun social activity and a de-stressing part of your daily routine.

Learning Techniques for Children with Autism

learning-techniques-children-with-autism

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by challenges with social communication, and by restricted and repetitive actions that affects one’s behavior, emotions, and sensory processing in children. This  affects the ways in which they perceive, learn, think, or problem-solve. Since autism largely affects one’s sensory issues, some of them might require considerable support in their daily lives to understand how to learn things better to be able to understand the world.

Understanding Autism

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that is characterized by difficulties with social skills, repetitive and restrictive behaviors, speech, and non-verbal communication. Other characteristics include atypical activity and behavior patterns, for instance, challenges with transitioning from one activity to another, an excessive focus on details and unusual responses to sensory stimuli. 

Autism Teaching Methods

For children with autism, teaching strategies can be made more effective and implemented by a parent, teacher or a medical professional. Here are a couple of noteworthy clinical treatments:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

     is a method of teaching children with autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders. It is based on the premise that appropriate behavior, including speech therapy, academics and life skills – can be taught using scientific principles, and by reducing reinforcements so that the child can learn without constant rewards.
    The most well-known form of ABA is Discrete Trial Training (DTT), wherein skills are broken down to the small tasks and are taught individually. Discrete or separate trials may be used to teach eye contact, imitation, fine motor skills, self-help, academics, language, and conversation. Students start with learning small skills, and gradually learn more complicated skills as each smaller one is mastered.

  • Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)

    is a family-based behavioral clinical treatment that tries to fix the social problems at the heart of autism, such as friendship skills, empathy, and the desire to share personal experiences with others. This approach takes into account the ways in which developing children learn how to have emotional relationships, right from infancy. RDI tries to help children interact positively with other people, even without language, using the pretext that when children learn the value and joy of personal relationships, they will find it easier to learn language and social skills. The idea is to give them a “second chance” to learn these skills through play, “guided participation” and other similar activities.

Autism Teaching Methods at Home

In view of the fact that most children with autism are visual learners, parents and teachers should take into consideration that these children learn best when they can see what is expected instead of being told what to do verbally. Visual cues greatly help children with autism, to understand and retain skills that aid with communication. Some of these strategies can be implemented at home as well as in a classroom:

  1. Create an environment that is not over stimulating. The child will do better if there is no loud music playing in the background, as it distracts a child with autism from concentrating on the subject at hand.
  2. Create a structured environment with predictable routines. The daily routine should be the same everyday, only differing slightly for special occasions. For visual learners, be sure to use signs and pictures to represent that event, in the child’s schedule.
  3. Apart from pictures, you can also use drawings, a list or keywords, since visual schedules are beneficial to break down tasks and show multiple steps so that all efforts have been completed. Visual schedules like these can help reduce anxiety by providing consistency for children with autism. They are also an excellent way to help ease transitions and reduce meltdowns for such children. 
  4. Give fewer choices. If a child is asked to pick a color, only give him/her two choices, or at the very most, three choices to pick from. The more the options, the more confused they are likely to be.
  5. Select repetitive motions when working on projects. Most classrooms designed for autism have an area for work box tasks, such as putting erasers on pencils, or sorting colors into colored cups.
  6. Keep your voice low and clear when teaching or explaining a concept. Children with autism become agitated and confused, if someone is using a very loud voice to speak. 
  7. Limit physical contact. While this is a good strategy for all children, children with autism cannot properly interpret body language and touch, so minimal physical contact works best.

These suggestions should help in educating a child with autism, with less stress and in a calmer environment, while taking into account their limitations. The same guidelines can also be conveyed to teachers to use in a classroom, when teaching children with autism. For instance, allowing such students to stand instead of sitting around a table during a class demonstration, lets them do better when they are learning. Many are in the habit of rocking back and forth; this allows them to repeat those movements while still listening to the teacher’s instruction. 

Simple guidelines like these allow you as a parent, or a teacher, to eliminate stress in order to let children with autism learn in a more focused environment, and to let them grow and flourish at their pace.

Top 5 signs of an Autism Spectrum Disorder

signs-of-autism-spectrum-disorder

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by challenges with social communication, and by restricted and repetitive actions that affects one’s behavior, emotions, and sensory processing in children. Often caused due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors, it largely affects the ways in which children with autism perceive, learn, think, and problem-solve. This means that some might require considerable support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some instances, be able to live entirely independently.

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder referring to a broad range of conditions characterized by difficulties with social skills, repetitive and restrictive behaviors, speech, and non-verbal communication. Other characteristics include atypical activity and behavior patterns, for instance, challenges with transitioning from one activity to another, an excessive focus on details and unusual responses to sensory stimuli. For people with ASD, these characteristics can make life significantly challenging. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptoms and Signs

Signs of autism are known to emerge between the ages of 2 and 3. A disorder affecting very early brain development, some associated developmental delays can appear and be diagnosed as early as 1.5 years of age.

The development of autism is influenced by various factors, while often being accompanied by sensorial sensitivities and medical issues such as sleep disorders, seizures, or gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, and mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and attention deficit. Scientists believe there are multiple causes of ASD that act together to change the most common ways people develop. 

Given that people with ASD are known to have difficulties with social interactions and using non-verbal and verbal communication in a social context, here are the top five signs that may be evident in individuals with ASD:

  • Insistence on sameness in environment or routine.
  • Repetitive motor and sensory (self-stimulating or “stimming”) behaviors, like hand-flapping, rocking, fidgeting with objects, or even hitting themselves.
  • Making inconsistent or little eye contact.
  • Having an intense, lasting interest in specific topics, such as numbers, details, or facts.
  • Being more sensitive or less sensitive than is considered usual to sensory input, such as light, sound, clothing, or temperature.

People on the autism spectrum may also have several strengths, including:

  • The ability to learn things in detail and remember information for longer periods of time.
  • Being strong visual and auditory learners.
  • Excelling in math, science, music, or art.

Diagnosis

Symptoms of autism in adults are often tougher to diagnose as compared to children. Some symptoms of ASD in adults might overlap with symptoms of other mental health challenges, such as anxiety disorders or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Evaluation for ASD in adults may include healthcare providers having a conversation with caregivers or other family members to learn about the person’s early developmental history. This can help ensure an exact diagnosis.

Behavioral, psychological, and educational interventions
Research demonstrates that early intervention is important as proper care and services can reduce individuals’ difficulties while at the same time helping them learn new skills and build on their strengths. The healthcare needs of people with autism are complex and require a range of integrated services, which is why collaboration between the health sector and other sectors, particularly education, employment, and social care, is important.

Treatment and Prognosis

ASD affects every child in different ways, i.e. they could have unique strengths and challenges, and therefore, different treatment needs. Treatment plans are usually catered to the child and could involve multiple professionals such as a neuropsychologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or alternative therapists who have experience working with ASD. Medication may also be prescribed to treat specific symptoms to help bring down levels of irritability, aggression, hyperactivity, repetitive behavior, attention problems, anxiety, and depression. Treatments for Autism can involve a combination of Stem Cell Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, Behavioral management therapy, Cognitive behavior therapy, Social Skills Therapy, early intervention and Occupational Therapy.

Of these, Stem Cell Therapy has shown some remarkable results in children with autism. Nearly 91% of individuals with autism have shown clinical improvements overall. Signs of aggressive behavior, hyperactivity, low attention span, have all shown significant improvement, along with better eye contact, communication and social skills. Stem Cell Therapy for autism can notably improve repetitive behavior, anxiety, social skills, speech and the ability to focus. Sensory Integration Therapy, on the other hand, is also used to help children to learn to use all their senses together i.e. touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. Researchers have claimed that this therapy can also significantly improve difficulties associated with autism, like challenging or repetitive behaviors.

In a nutshell, ASD is likely to be a lifelong disorder, although treatments can improve a child’s symptoms, as well as their development, health, and overall well-being. Diagnosing ASD can still be difficult since there is no specific medical test to diagnose the disorder. The child’s behavior and development need to be evaluated to make a diagnosis, and often, several children do not receive a final diagnosis until they are much older, even until they are adolescents or adults. To ensure increased accessibility, inclusivity, and support, actions of care need to be accompanied by actions at community and societal levels.

An Overview of Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury

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The spinal cord acts as a crucial pathway between the brain and the rest of the body. Apart from being the information processing center, it plays a significant role in body movements, sensations, and functions. In case of any injury to the spinal cord, depending on the severity of the injury, different parts of the body can lose function or mobility. While back injuries are likely to damage bones or soft tissues in the spine, they are not the same as spinal cord injuries, since they don’t always affect the spinal cord. Let’s dig deeper to understand some of the symptoms and treatments for injuries caused in the lumbar vertebrae of the spinal cord.

Types of Spinal Injuries

On a generic level, most spinal cord injuries are a result of a sudden, traumatic blow to the vertebrae in the back, which would normally require surgery, medication, or physical therapy to fix it. Depending on the cause of the injury or trauma, spinal cord injuries can be classified as complete or incomplete (i.e. partial).

  • Complete: A complete injury causes a total lack of function or paralysis below the level of the injury. It is known to affect both sides of the body, and can paralyse all four limbs (quadriplegia) or just the lower half of the body (paraplegia).
  • Incomplete: In the case of an incomplete injury, some function remains on one or both sides of the body. The body and brain can still communicate along certain pathways.

Understanding a Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury

The lumbar spine, located below the thoracic section in the back, is the lowest major part of the spinal cord. The lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae (L1 to L5) and carries the most weight compared to any other sections of the spine. Any injuries caused to the lumbar nerves are likely to result in some loss of function in the hips and legs, with some of the most common causes being high impact traumas such as motor vehicle accidents, falls, trampoline accidents, violence, or gunshot wounds, sports injuries, and occasionally even surgical complications. 

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the three types of lumbar spine injuries are Tetraplegia, Paraplegia, and Triplegia. Of these, the two most common types of spinal cord injuries are incomplete tetraplegia and paraplegia, with incomplete spinal cord injuries accounting for more than 65% of all SCIs.

Characteristic Behaviors of a Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury

The symptoms of a lumbar spine injury typically include extreme back pain or pressure in your neck, head, or back. You could also experience weakness, or paralysis in a certain part of your body, numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in your hands, fingers, feet, or toes.

Some of the classic symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) include:

  • walking problems 
  • loss of control of the bladder or bowels
  • inability to move the arms or legs
  • feeling of spreading numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • unconsciousness
  • headaches
  • pain, pressure, and stiffness in the back or neck area
  • signs of shock
  • weakness or decreased sensation in the arms and/or legs
  • unusual lumps along the spine
  • difficulty in breathing

Lumbar SCI Recovery and Prognosis

Lumbar spinal cord injuries can be critical since the lumbar vertebrae in the lumbar spine contain the spinal cord tissue and the nerves that connect the brain to the legs. This means that any kind of damage to the lumbar spinal cord is likely to affect your motor control and sensation in the lower body, impacting the hips, the groin area, and perhaps even the lower abdominal muscles and thigh flexion. But at the same time, they are treatable and can be well managed with the right amount of medical attention and therapy. 

The primary treatment usually includes treating the nerve root pain with the help of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and epidural injections in the lumbar and cervical spine. Many therapists also recommend exercise patterns, along with one or more of the following:

  • Stem Cell Therapy is a regenerative medical treatment that uses stem cells that are characterized by self-renewal and their ability to become any cell in an organism. These stem cells can potentially provide trophic support to the injured spinal cord microenvironment by modulating the inflammatory response, increasing vascularization and suppressing cystic change.
  • Occupational therapy facilitates regaining independence by teaching you adaptive techniques for activities of daily living, community re-entry, and other tasks that you may like to engage in such as housework, caring for others, work/school etc.
  • Physical therapy can help you improve mobility, strength, and flexibility through targeted exercises.
  • Orthotics are wearable devices that can enable musculoskeletal alignment.
  • Surgery may be recommended to decompress the spinal cord, stabilize the spinal column, manually lengthen spastic tendons and muscles, and minimize the hyperactivity of spastic muscles.

It can undoubtedly be challenging to suffer from a spinal cord injury. While different people may have different experiences, a personalized approach to rehabilitation is essential, where specific requirements can be met. The right treatment can help alleviate some of the difficulties, so it is highly recommended to consult specialists, professionals, and qualified therapists to determine the ideal treatment plan for the patient. Commitment to therapy programs and supportive counseling sessions are equally important for efficient recovery.

All You Need to Know About a Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

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A Spinal Cord Injury is typically the outcome of a traumatic accident or injury. Processing what has happened is hard enough, and learning that one has lost all or most functionality can be almost impossible to deal with. The good news is that with prompt medical attention and a tailored rehabilitation program, even a Cervical Spinal Cord Injury can be manageable. Here, we offer a brief guide to this category of Spinal Cord Injury and the best treatment options to restore functionality.

Understanding Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) involves mutilation of the spinal cord that causes reversible or irreversible changes in its function. Symptoms may include the loss of muscle function, sensation, or autonomic function, in the parts of the body supplied by the spinal cord below the level of the injury. A Spinal Cord Injury may be fully curable, depending on which part of the spinal cord was affected. 

A Cervical Spinal Cord Injury is one that affects the top seven vertebrae (C1 to C7) of the spinal cord. As these are the closest to the brain, a Cervical Spinal Cord Injury tends to be the most serious type of SCI and can even be fatal. Treatment entails a customized regenerative rehabilitation program including Stem Cell Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy

Symptoms of Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

Cervical Spinal Cord Injury symptoms tend to involve partial or complete loss of sensory function that is often permanent. There also tend to be several associated complications, especially involving the respiratory or gastrointestinal system. We examine the symptoms of injuries to specific vertebrae as follows:

Injury affecting C1 to C4 nerves:

  • Paralysis of the arms, legs, and trunk
  • Potential inability to breathe
  • Loss or impairment of the ability to speak
  • Loss of bladder / bowel control
  • Potential need for extensive or complete assistance for all daily activities
  • 24×7 personal care often required
  • May be able to move around in a motorized wheelchair

Injury affecting C5 nerve:

  • Partial or total paralysis of trunk, hands, and legs
  • Some movement ability in the arms and elbows
  • Impaired bladder / bowel control
  • Impaired speaking ability
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Extensive assistance needed for activities of daily living
  • Can get around with a motorized wheelchair

Injury affecting C6 nerve:

  • Paralysis of the hands, trunk, and legs
  • Able to bend wrists back
  • Impaired speaking and breathing ability
  • Impaired voluntary control of bladder and / or bowels
  • Can move in and out of bed and wheelchair with assistance
  • Can potentially drive an adapted car

Injury affecting C7 nerve:

  • Paralysis of the lower body
  • Typically able to move arms and shoulders
  • Typically able to extend elbows and fingers to some degree
  • Impaired voluntary control of bladder and / or bowels
  • Can perform most daily tasks independently but may require assistance with more complex tasks
  • Can potentially drive an adapted car

Doctors will conduct extensive tests on anyone who has survived a traumatic injury to check for a Spinal Cord Injury and to determine the location and severity of the injury. They will employ a variety of imaging tests, including an MRI, a CT scan, and an X-Ray, and also check for strength and sensation in the patient’s limbs.

Treatment for Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

A Cervical Spinal Cord Injury requires immediate treatment to address the swelling in the spinal cord and any fractures or dislocations. Steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs can help to bring down the swelling and thus reduce the risk of secondary complications around the injury. Doctors may also take precautionary measures to avoid blood clots or stool / urine retention.

Once the initial swelling has subsided, the recovery journey begins. Recovery focuses mostly on learning to use the non-paralyzed body parts to achieve as much autonomy as possible, with potential return of sensation to some parts over time. Typically, the patient will need to supplement Cervical Spinal Cord Injury treatment with extensive support for the rest of their lives. A tailored rehabilitation program will include the following:

  • Physiotherapy: This focuses on improving strength, flexibility, and coordination in the trunk and limbs. Physiotherapists will guide the patient through targeted exercises to improve functionality in the unaffected limbs and potentially restore some feeling in the paralysed limbs. Stretching is also vital for healthy muscle recovery.
  • Occupational Therapy: This focuses on improving fine motor skills and introducing assistive equipment as needed to perform the activities of daily living. For instance, the occupational therapist could recommend clothes with velcro fastenings for easier wear, or the use of special cutlery that are easier to grip.
  • Speech Therapy: A speech therapist will teach the patient special exercises that enable safe swallowing, breathing, and speaking. They will also teach them how to use communication devices if verbal communication is not an option.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This is a revolutionary form of treatment that uses the patient’s own cells to replace the damaged ones at the site of the Cervical Spinal Cord Injury. Over time, this treatment can potentially restore functionality in the nerves and help people recover significantly or even fully. In particular, doctors are optimistic about a form of treatment called cellular regeneration, which involves the use of engineered stem cells that can specifically target neural regeneration.

Living with a Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

Losing one’s facility to take care of oneself and move around freely can be hard for anyone to process. Especially in the early days of Cervical Spinal Cord Injury rehabilitation, it can feel like things will never get better. However, cultivating a healthy mindset is key to recovery, as mental health is inextricably linked to physical health. Here are some tips on how to adjust better to life with a Spinal Cord Injury.

  • Find a counselor who has experience working with Spinal Cord Injury patients. Talk about how you feel and seek coping mechanisms to help you process better.
  • Some of your medications could be causing depression or anxiety as a side effect. Ask your doctor if you can modify the dosage or try different medications.
  • Ask at your place of work about accommodations they can provide you so that you can continue to hold your job.
  • Keep doing the things you love as far as possible, such as watching movies, reading, or ordering takeout from a favorite restaurant.
  • Keep your loved ones close, and don’t hesitate to take their help when they offer it.
  • Monitor your health carefully and report any new symptoms to your doctor immediately.
  • Get as much physical activity as you can, and eat a nutritious diet for optimal general health. 
  • Keep showing up for your rehabilitation sessions. Remember that the more effort you put in now, the better the results you will see down the line.

FAQs

  • What is C spine injury?

A Cervical Spinal Cord Injury is the most severe kind of Spinal Cord Injury and can affect one or both sides of the body. The higher up the injury is along the spinal cord, the more severe the symptoms.

  • What is the most common injury to the cervical spine?

Most Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries occur due to trauma from a motor accident, a sports injury, or blunt force. Conditions like osteoarthritis or cancer could also cause compression fractures along the spinal cord.

  • Why are cervical injuries life-threatening?

The cervical vertebrae are the closest to the brain, which is why a Cervical Spinal Cord Injury can lead to widespread loss of function and paralysis in the body.

  • How long do neck injuries take to heal?

Most neck strains take about a few weeks to, although more severe muscle strains could take as long as 12 weeks.

  • How do you treat a cervical spine injury?

The first line of treatment for a cervical spine injury involves stabilizing the neck and spine, which could involve the use of braces or neck collars. Often, doctors may also perform surgery to remove bone fragments or foreign objects in the spinal cord.

  • Can damaged spinal cord nerves heal?

While there is no direct way to reverse damage to the spinal cord, scientists are working on various treatments that can enable nerve cell regeneration or enhance the functioning of the nerves that are still healthy.

  • Can the spinal cord heal itself?

Unlike other parts of the body, the spinal cord cells cannot heal themselves. This is because scar tissue and various molecular processes following a Spinal Cord Injury hinder the regrowth of long nerve cells.

  • Can cervical nerve damage heal?

There is no direct cure for cervical nerve damage. Treatment focuses mainly on rehabilitation and improving the functionality of the healthy nerves.

  • What helps nerves heal faster?

An intensive treatment program, one that is a combination of regenerative medicine and rehabilitation, helps the process of nerve repair.

  • Why are spinal cord injuries so serious?

The spinal cord contains the nerves that transmit messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Damage to the spinal cord can thus lead to paralysis and loss of function in the organ systems. 

  • Why are spinal injuries permanent?

Spinal cord injuries directly damage the nerves that convey messages from the brain to the rest of the body. These nerves are unable to regenerate on their own, which is why damage to the spinal cord usually has permanent effects.

  • Does spinal cord injury affect the heart?

Spinal Cord Injury can damage the nerves that enable the heart to function properly. Even if the heart is not directly affected, patients with Spinal Cord Injury tend to be at high risk for heart disease.

In conclusion, a Cervical Spinal Cord Injury is a life-changing diagnosis, but there are many treatments and support programs out there to make it easier. Patients should keep themselves motivated by taking their loved ones’ help, talking to counselors, and engaging with other Spinal Cord Injury survivors for encouragement. Over time, one will adjust and develop new abilities to become as independent and fulfilled as possible.

What Are The Best Exercises For Parkinson’s Disease?

best-exercises-parkinsons-disease

Exercise is a crucial part of any lifestyle. From maintaining a healthy weight to boosting strength to improving mental wellbeing, the benefits are numerous. For Parkinson’s Disease patients, in particular, exercise is a key component of rehabilitation that has been demonstrated to control symptoms and improve functionality. Many patients may be hesitant about embarking on an exercise program if they haven’t exercised before, or may have questions about what forms of exercise are safe. Here, we offer a detailed guide to the best exercises for Parkinson’s, including safety tips and other types of treatment to supplement it.

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative conditions in the world. It primarily damages dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. Since dopamine is involved in sending messages to the parts of the brain in charge of coordination and movement, the declining levels of dopamine affect movement and lead to symptoms like tremors and unsteady gait. The cause of Parkinson’s Disease is unknown, with a mix of environmental and genetic factors held responsible in most cases. A tailored treatment program can significantly improve symptom control and quality of life.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

The early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease can be mild, and other people may notice them before the patient does. While individual symptoms will vary from one patient to another, the common ones observed in most cases include:

  • Stiffness in the limbs or joints
  • Unsteady gait and balance
  • Slow movements (bradykinesia)
  • Tremors, especially in the hands or fingers
  • Soft, slurred speech
  • Cramped handwriting
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Constipation
  • Cognitive changes, like trouble finding the right word
  • Problems with bladder/bowel function

If you observe any of these yourself and if they persist for a few weeks, you should get a check-up straightaway. Even though there may be other, less serious causes behind the symptoms, it’s best to catch Parkinson’s Disease sooner than later.

Benefits of exercise for Parkinson’s Disease

One of the first things that any doctor will recommend in a Parkinson’s Disease treatment program is exercise. This is because exercise has neuroprotective effects, which means that it improves the functioning of the neurons that control voluntary movement. Not only does exercise help to manage symptoms and slow disease progression, but it also has excellent psychological benefits and often promotes social interaction. Studies have repeatedly shown that patients who start exercise early on have much better overall outcomes. 

Some of the physical and emotional benefits of exercise include:

  • Improved strength and flexibility
  • Greater balance and stability
  • Greater mobility for daily activities
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Better sleep quality
  • Improvement in symptoms like constipation
  • Reduction in falls and/or gait freezes
  • Healthier brain cells
  • Reduced depression and stress
  • Greater social interaction and community participation

What are the best exercises for people with Parkinson’s

For optimal results, a Parkinson’s treatment exercise program will incorporate elements of strength, mobility, balance, flexibility, and daily functionality. No two exercise programs will look alike, as it all depends on the patient’s symptoms, overall health, whether or not they have exercised before, and what they like doing. Usually, there will be a combination of the following.

  • Aerobic exercise: These involve activities that challenge the cardiovascular system, including the lungs and heart. Studies show that engaging in aerobic exercise sessions for 30-40 minutes at least three times a week can noticeably slow disease progression. Walking, running, cycling, hiking, and swimming all count as aerobic exercise. Patients can split their sessions between high-intensity and moderate-intensity workouts for the best results. 
  • Strength training: This involves building muscle mass through one’s own body weight or the use of weighted equipment. Doing strength-based Parkinson’s exercises at least twice a week can help control symptoms. In particular, strength training focused on the legs and extensor muscles can improve posture. Patients should start with low weights and fewer repetition until they build confidence.
  • Flexibility training: This is a key complement to all forms of Parkinson’s exercises. It involves a variety of stretching exercises that hold each major muscle group for about 30 to 60 seconds. 
  • Balance and agility training: These are exercises that combine all the above elements and often include daily activities that are relatively less intense. Dancing, golfing, water aerobics, tai chi, pilates, yoga, and even gardening are useful types of exercise.

Tips for exercising with Parkinson’s Disease

For people with Parkinson’s Disease, physical exercise calls for some extra care. Balance issues and tremors can affect one’s grip and stability and cause injury if the patient is not careful. The following tips can help you stay safe during Parkinson’s exercises while also having a fruitful session.

  • Ensure that any exercise program you start has the approval of your therapist. They can recommend exercises that will help your specific symptoms and also warn you about ones that are not ideal for your limitations.
  • Look for gyms or community centers that offer special exercise programs for Parkinson’s Disease patients. For instance, some offer seated exercise options for those with balance problems. In addition, pick a trainer who has experience working with Parkinson’s patients. 
  • Try to work out with a friend or family member for extra motivation.
  • When strength training, use lighter weights at first and ask a trainer or companion to watch your form.
  • Always stretch after every workout to help your muscles recover. Stretching, in fact, can be done multiple times a day even on the days you are not exercising.
  • Make use of a guard rail or other form of support as necessary. 
  • Choose machines and aids to support your performance. For instance, if you enjoy biking but don’t feel stable enough to bike outdoors, use a recumbent indoor bike for extra seat and back support.
  • Avoid exercising in places that have poor lighting or slippery floors.
  • Stop immediately if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or sick in any way.
  • Incorporate more movement into your day, such as by taking the stairs rather than using the elevator or parking further away from work so that you can get in a walk.
  • Keep logging your performance during every workout so that you can track how you feel and what types of exercise you do best.
  • Pay attention to your body and ask your trainer or doctor about exercise modifications if you feel your symptoms are advancing. 
  • Don’t be disheartened if you aren’t progressing as fast as you would like. Always start small and stay consistent. Over time, you will feel stronger and fitter.

Other forms of treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

Exercise works best when it is part of a broader rehabilitation program that focuses on various aspects of the Parkinson’s patient’s life. Typically, an entire healthcare team will be working concertedly to improve the patient’s health on multiple fronts. Other therapy options that the patient will benefit from include:

  • Occupational Therapy: An occupational therapist teaches patients various exercises to improve fine motor skills that make daily activities like eating or bathing much easier. Wherever necessary, the therapist can recommend assistive devices, like special cutlery that can be gripped more easily. 
  • Speech Therapy: This involves various exercises to overcome difficulties with speaking and swallowing. Chewing each mouthful of food for longer, speaking more clearly, or making faces can all help improve strength in the facial muscles.
  • Cognitive Therapy: Trained therapists can guide patients through activities that improve attention, memory, and learning. 
  • Diet: A nutritious diet is vital for good health and is in fact a key complement to Parkinson’s Disease physical exercise. As far as possible, the patient should eat whole, plant-based foods that keep them full and provide energy.

FAQs

  • What is the best exercise for Parkinson’s Disease?

While there is no single exercise that will work for everyone, some of the best Parkinson’s treatment exercises include biking, running, tai chi, yoga, and pilates.

  • Can exercise prevent Parkinson’s?

Exercise cannot prevent Parkinson’s Disease, as the causal factors are not fully known yet. However, studies have shown that people who stay fit and exercise regularly are less likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease.

  • Can exercise slow down Parkinson’s?

A regular program of Parkinson’s exercises has been demonstrated to slow down the rate of disease progression and boost dopamine levels in the brain.

  • What should Parkinson’s patients avoid?

For optimum health, Parkinson’s Disease patients should avoid foods that are high in sugar, sodium, or trans fats. In addition, while protein is essential for muscle-building, too much of it can have negative effects.

  • How can I improve my Parkinson’s balance?

There are several exercises for people with Parkinson’s that focus on balance training. Static standing balance, single leg stands, wall sits, side stepping, and lateral weight shifts are all effective exercises.

  • How do you know when Parkinson’s is getting worse?

When Parkinson’s Disease progresses, symptoms such as tremor and rigidity become more intense or start affecting both sides of the body. Posture and gait problems may become more apparent, and performing daily tasks could become tougher.

  • How can I strengthen my Parkinson’s legs?

Patients who are struggling with leg strength can perform a variety of sitting or standing exercises either bodyweight or with weights. Lunges, squats, weight shifts, or wall sits are all commonly recommended exercises.

  • Does walking help Parkinson’s disease?

Brisk walking as a regular form of aerobic exercise has been demonstrated to improve symptoms for Parkinson’s Disease. Try and incorporate more walking into your daily routine as far as possible.

  • How should you sleep with Parkinson’s?

Sticking to a consistent bedtime and following a soothing routine prior to sleep (such as reading or meditating) can help to improve sleep quality.

  • Does Parkinson’s get worse at night?

As Parkinson’s Disease progresses, patients may start experiencing more sleep trouble at night, such as waking up more frequently or having vivid dreams.

  • Why do Parkinson’s tremors stop when sleeping?

Typically, Parkinson’s tremor most commonly occurs when the patient is awake and at rest. It disappears or reduces when the patient is asleep or engaged in active exercise.

  • Can Parkinson’s stay mild?

Parkinson’s is a progressive condition, which means that the symptoms may be mild at first but will worsen over time. Early intervention and tailored treatment can reduce the rate at which the progression happens.

In conclusion, while exercise cannot cure Parkinson’s outright, it plays a key role in managing symptoms and improving overall health so that the patient can maintain a more enriched lifestyle. Always consult your doctor before picking up any new exercise regime and make sure you’re performing the exercises safely and with good form. Above all, have as much fun with it as possible. The more you enjoy it, the more motivated you will be to show up every day, and the sooner you can start enjoying the benefits.

Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy: An Overview

hyptonic-cerebral-palsy

Learning that your child has Cerebral Palsy is a tough moment for any parent. It is a lifelong condition that significantly impairs movement and communication, and your child may even require special care all their life. The good news, however, is that early intervention and treatment can equip your child with the skills they need to learn, play, make friends, and enjoy their life. It is thus critical to know about the different subtypes of Cerebral Palsy and how they present. Here, we take a closer look at Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy.

Understanding Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of non-progressive neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and gait. It occurs due to damage to the brain on account of an injury or infection before, during, or shortly after birth. Children with Cerebral Palsy experience various movement-related symptoms depending on the subtype of Cerebral Palsy they are diagnosed with. Tailored treatment programs can significantly improve mobility, communication, and functionality for the patient.

Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy is a rare variant and accounts for about 2.6% of all Cerebral Palsy cases. It is also known as Atonic Cerebral Palsy. Children with this subtype have low muscle tone, which manifests in the form of floppy limbs. Parents may observe their child missing key developmental milestones like rolling over, crawling, or walking. There may also be neurological impairments involved. 

Many people confuse Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy with Hypertonic Cerebral Palsy. While the words do sound similar, they actually mean the opposite. Hypertonia refers to exaggerated muscle tone, which leads to stiff muscles and often painful contractures. Hypotonia, on the other hand, refers to unusually low muscle tone, which causes loosened muscles.

Symptoms of Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy

The main characteristic of Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy is hypotonia, or low muscle tone, which leads to floppy muscles. It is important to note that the muscles do not lack strength, but stability. Simply put, it means that the muscles are too relaxed to work properly.

Parents may start noticing Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy symptoms when the child is anywhere between a few months to a few years old, depending on symptom severity. Key signs to watch out for include:

  • Delays in hitting developmental milestones like rolling over, sitting up, or crawling
  • Excess muscle flexibility
  • Clumsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Poor head control
  • Loose muscles
  • Slow reflexes
  • Unusually flexible joints and ligaments
  • Poor trunk stability
  • Wide gait with feet abnormally far apart
  • Balance or stability problems
  • Problems with chewing or swallowing
  • Seizures
  • Vision impairment such as slow eye movements
  • Making breathy, grunting sounds
  • Learning disabilities
  • Speech impediments
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Difficulty with fine motor activities like buttoning clothes or writing

Causes of Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy

Like all forms of Cerebral Palsy, Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy occurs due to damage to the developing brain. Specifically, when the cerebellum is affected, messages from the brain and spinal cord related to movement control cannot be relayed properly to the rest of the body. This leads to problems with muscle tone and motor skills. Some of the factors that could cause damage to the cerebellum include:

  • Lack of oxygen to the fetus
  • Damage to the placenta
  • Maternal high blood pressure (causing fetal stroke)
  • Certain types of maternal infections, especially during the first five months of pregnancy
  • Umbilical cord complications
  • Problems during delivery, often from improper use of forceps by the doctor
  • Pulling excessively on the newborn’s head, neck, or shoulders

Treatment for Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy

If your child has Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy, a healthcare team will carefully assess their symptoms and design a custom treatment plan to maximize their functionality and consequently, independence. The objective is to train the brain to relearn and improve through highly specific and repetitive tasks. Typically, a treatment plan for Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy will include the following:

  • Physiotherapy: A physiotherapist will work with your child and teach them special exercises to target underused muscles and build greater stability.
  • Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapists will teach your child how to build the necessary fine motor skills to eat, dress, bathe, and groom themselves independently. They could also recommend adaptive equipment for specific tasks to improve the child’s ability to participate in school activities.
  • Speech and Language Therapy: Quite often, children with Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy have poor mouth and jaw control. Speech therapists can guide them through exercises that strengthen their oral muscles and help them chew, swallow, and speak more effectively. The therapist may also teach them how to use communication devices to supplement their verbal skills.
  • Mobility aids: These are ideal for helping children with Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy move about with greater ease and with a reduced risk of falling. Braces, for instance, can elongate and support the leg muscles to counteract stability problems. When used early, braces can significantly improve musculoskeletal stability and help children stand and walk with minimal support. For more advanced cases of Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy, a wheelchair can be ideal for getting around.
  • Cognitive Therapy: Cognitive impairments occur frequently in cases of Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy. Cognitive rehabilitation therapists can guide the child through exercises that improve memory, learning, attention span, and decision-making abilities. 
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This is a revolutionary form of treatment that uses the patient’s own healthy stem cells to replace the damaged ones in the brain. It has shown considerable success in reducing the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy, and may even potentially reverse the damage.
  • Medication/surgery: Medication can alleviate specific symptoms like seizures, while surgery can correct bone or joint deformities so that physiotherapy can be more effective.

Over time, and as the child responds to continued treatment, the healthcare team may modify elements of this plan or introduce new exercises to meet emerging needs. In addition, parents should take their child for regular health check-ups and ensure that they eat a nutritious diet, just as they would for any child.

FAQs

  • What causes hypertonia in Cerebral Palsy?

Hypertonia in Cerebral Palsy occurs due to brain damage, which is most often the result of birth injuries like trauma to the head or lack of oxygen to the fetus while being born.

  • What are the 4 types of Cerebral Palsy?

The four main types of Cerebral Palsy are Spastic, Ataxic, Dyskinetic (which includes Dystonic, Athetoid, and Choroathetoid), and Mixed.

  • Is Cerebral Palsy hypertonic?

Hypertonic or Spastic Cerebral Palsy is the most common type of Cerebral Palsy. It involves tightened muscle contracture that leads to difficulties with walking and coordination.

  • What type of Cerebral Palsy has hypotonia?

Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy, or Atonic Cerebral Palsy, is a rare subtype of Cerebral Palsy that affects multiple muscle groups and leads to floppy muscles.

  • What are 3 early signs of Cerebral Palsy?

In general, three early signs of cerebral palsy are developmental delays, abnormal muscle tone, and abnormal posture.

  • How is hypotonic Cerebral Palsydiagnosed?

A Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy diagnosis requires a thorough examination by the child’s doctor, including an assessment of their movements and coordination, an MRI/CT scan to detect brain damage, and often an appointment with a bone and joint specialist to detect floppy movements.

  • Can babies with Cerebral Palsy roll over?

Rolling over either too early or too late could be an indicator of neurological disorders like Cerebral Palsy. For instance, babies with Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy often roll over much later than normal.

  • At what age can you tell if a baby has Cerebral Palsy?

Most Cerebral Palsy cases are diagnosed when the child is around two years of age, and some might be evident at even a few months. 

  • Can a baby with Cerebral Palsy do tummy time?

Tummy time is a simple and useful exercise for children with Cerebral Palsy, as it helps develop head control, provides a good stretch to the whole body, and promotes balance.

  • Can you fix Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy has no cure. However, tailored treatment options can significantly reduce the child’s symptoms and improve their long-term outcome.

  • Can Cerebral Palsy affect the eyes?

One of the most common symptoms of Cerebral Palsy is vision impairment. Cataracts, refractive issues, and strabismus (turned eye) are all frequently observed.

  • Does Cerebral Palsy affect IQ?

About 30-50% of Cerebral Palsy cases also present with some form of cognitive impairment. This is typically an outcome of the same brain damage that caused the Cerebral Palsy in the first place.

In short, a Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy diagnosis is never easy to receive, but there are several treatment options to ensure your child the best future possible. As a parent, it is advisable to reach out to support groups for education and assistance so that you can be the best caregiver while prioritizing your own mental health. Above all, remember that your child’s symptoms can and will improve with regular treatment and that they can enjoy their life just like any other child.

Dystonic Cerebral Palsy – An Overview

dystonic-cerebral-palsy-min

Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive condition that causes a variety of movement-related disorders in your child. As a lifelong condition, early diagnosis and treatment is key to managing it and enabling the most functional life possible for your child. Often, there is confusion about what the subtypes of Cerebral Palsy look like and what warning signs to watch out for as your child grows. Here, we take a closer look at one of the more common variants of Cerebral Palsy, namely Dystonic Cerebral Palsy.

Understanding Dystonic Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of non-progressive neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and gait. It occurs due to damage to the brain on account of an injury or infection before, during, or shortly after birth. Cerebral Palsy affects gait, balance, gross and fine motor skills, and coordination, and may also lead to problems with vision and cognitive processing. A comprehensive treatment plan for Cerebral Palsy, can significantly reduce symptoms and help the patient function as independently as possible.

Dystonic Cerebral Palsy is a sub-variant of Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy, and its chief symptom is involuntary muscle contractions that affect either the whole body or a single side. The involuntary movements tend to intensify when the patient attempts to control the movement, or when the patient is tired, anxious, or dehydrated. 

Symptoms of Dystonic Cerebral Palsy

Dystonic Cerebral Palsy is marked by uncontrollable movements and muscle contractions. These are often painful, which can make it uncomfortable to sit or lie down, and can interfere with sleep. The exact nature and severity of symptoms will vary from patient to patient, and in many cases may affect only one part of the body. There are several ways we can classify Dystonic Cerebral Palsy on this basis:

  • Focal dystonia affects just one side of the body. It can affect one leg and one arm along with the trunk of the body, or both legs and an arm. 
  • Hemidystonia affects an arm and the corresponding leg.
  • Cervical dystonia affects the head, neck, and shoulders and leads to abnormal twists and turns.
  • Generalized dystonia affects the entire body, often with an emphasis on the head and upper body. Children with this type of Dystonic CP experience significant problems with walking and voluntary movements.
  • Oromandibular dystonia affects the mouth, jaw, and tongue and leads to problems with eating and speaking.

For young children with Dystonic Cerebral Palsy, the symptoms may first appear in one hand or one foot before spreading elsewhere. In general, key Dystonic Cerebral Palsy symptoms that parents should watch out for include:

  • Painful movements
  • Movements that alternate between fast and slow
  • Involuntary movements that intensify if attempted to control
  • Speech difficulties 
  • Chewing and swallowing difficulties
  • Fatigue due to uncontrolled movements
  • Gait problems
  • Clumsiness
  • Drooling
  • Foot cramps
  • Uncontrollable blinking

Sometimes, the symptoms may only present during certain activities. For example, a child may have trouble walking, but may swim without difficulty.

Dystonic Cerebral Palsy causes

Dystonic Cerebral Palsy occurs due to damage to the basal ganglia. These are a group of subcortical nuclei in the brain that are in charge of motor function and learning. When the basal ganglia are damaged, messages from the brain to the muscles cannot be relayed properly, which leads to movement problems.

There are several factors that could damage the basal ganglia, including:

  • Problems with the placenta
  • Lack of oxygen during birth
  • Excessive force used during delivery
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Multiple births
  • Untreated jaundice at or soon after birth
  • Being shaken as a baby

In certain cases, genetics may also be responsible for the condition. There is no specific way to say exactly what caused a particular case of Dystonic Cerebral Palsy. An MRI or CT scan can indicate the location and extent of the brain damage, on the basis of which doctors can conjecture where the damage came from.

Treatment of Dystonic Cerebral Palsy

Tailored rehabilitation offers the best chance for long-term functionality and independence. Typically, Dystonic Cerebral Palsy treatment involves a team of healthcare specialists working concertedly to ease your child’s symptoms and help them participate in necessary activities. The components of a typical treatment plan include:

  • Physiotherapy: The physiotherapist can guide the child through special exercises. The focus is on improving strength, flexibility, and coordination, while also maintaining overall fitness.
  • Speech and Language Therapy: Speech therapists can teach a variety of exercises focused on the mouth and jaw to overcome muscle contractures and help the child speak and eat correctly. The speech therapist may also instruct the child in the use of communication devices or recommend the use of a feeding tube for proper nutrition.
  • Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapists train the child with Dystonic CP in performing activities of daily living (ADL) with as little assistance as possible. There are several exercises that improve control over fine motor skills such as eating, dressing, and bathing. 
  • Assistive devices: For children with more advanced symptoms, assistive devices can make getting around and daily functioning much easier. For instance, there are special types of cutlery designed for easy gripping. Walkers and wheelchairs can also be recommended for mobility.
  • Nutrition: Often, the doctor may recommend a tailored diet to ensure that the child is getting all the necessary calories and nutrients. This can be customized based on the child’s symptoms, such as gastrointestinal problems or speech disorders, while catering to the child’s tastes as far as possible. In particular, children with Dystonic Cerebral Palsy have high energy expenditure from all the contractures, which means nutrition is vital to avoid malnutrition.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This is an important component of Cerebral Palsy rehabilitation and involves using the patient’s own cells to replace the damaged ones in the brain. This is a safe, painless procedure that can reverse the symptoms to a large extent. Research, in fact, demonstrates that Stem Cell Therapy can potentially cure Cerebral Palsy.

FAQs

  • Is dystonia the same as Cerebral Palsy?

Dystonia is a movement disorder that leads to uncontrollable muscle contractions and involuntary twisting movements. Dystonic Cerebral Palsy is a variant of CP in which the primary symptom is dystonia.

  • What are the 3 main types of Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy can be classified into three categories depending on which body parts are affected. These are hemiplegia (one side of the body affected), diplegia (both legs affected), and quadriplegia (both arms and legs affected).

  • What is the difference between dystonia and spasticity

Dystonia and spasticity are both neurological conditions that impair movement. Spasticity is a velocity-dependent increase in tonic stretch reflexes that causes exaggerated tendon jerking. Dystonia, on the other hand, is an involuntary movement disorder that leads to abnormal postures and twisting, repetitive movements. 

  • What is the rarest type of Cerebral Palsy?/h3>

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is the rarest subtype of Cerebral Palsy, accounting for only 2.4% of all cases.

  • What is the mildest form of Cerebral Palsy?

Often, Cerebral Palsy symptoms are mild enough that they are not noticed until the child is much older. Such patients can often get by on low-level support and can perform most activities without assistance.

  • Can Cerebral Palsy get worse with age?

Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive condition, which means that the symptoms will not get worse with age. However, some symptoms can become more apparent as the child grows older.

  • What is the average lifespan of someone with Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy itself does not affect the lifespan, and most children have survival rates similar to the average population. However, the more severe the condition, the greater the risk of associated conditions and low immunity, which tends to reduce life expectancy.

  • Is Cerebral Palsy painful?

Many children with Cerebral Palsy experience pain from muscle contractures and sudden involuntary movements. The degree of pain, however, differs from patient to patient.

  • What food is good for Cerebral Palsy?

A nutritious diet with whole foods is essential for patients with Cerebral Palsy. Eggs, nuts, avocados, whole grains, ginger, and greek yogurt are all good sources of nutrition.

  • What vitamins are good for Cerebral Palsy?

The best vitamins for Cerebral Palsy include Vitamin D, Vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin B12.

  • Is massage good for Cerebral Palsy?

Massage therapy twice a week can help to ease muscle spasticity and relieve pain in children with Cerebral Palsy. It also helps reduce anxiety and mental discomfort. 

  • What are acidic foods to avoid in cerebral palsy?

Children with Cerebral Palsy often have gastrointestinal issues that can be aggravated by spicy or acidic foods. Items to avoid or minimize include processed meats, processed cheeses, high-sodium foods, and certain grains.

Dystonic Cerebral Palsy can be challenging to live with, both for the child and for you as the parent. Be sure to talk to your child’s doctor about any concerns that you have and any changes you feel are necessary to the treatment plan. Above all, exercise love and patience with your child and encourage them in all their efforts. With regular rehabilitation and a supportive home environment, your child will learn to lead a happy, healthy life.

What Are the Characteristics of Cerebral Palsy?

cerebral-palsy-characteristics

Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive neurological condition that affects voluntary movement and can make it challenging for your child to get around. The good news is that Cerebral Palsy treatment has advanced more than ever and can significantly enhance your child’s motor abilities. There are several subtypes of Cerebral Palsy, and knowing how to tell among them is crucial for a correct early diagnosis. Here, we offer a brief guide to the characteristics of Cerebral Palsy in its various forms so that you know what to watch out for in your growing child.

Understanding Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a group of non-progressive neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and gait. It occurs due to damage to the brain on account of an injury or infection before, during, or shortly after birth. Cerebral Palsy affects gait, balance, gross and fine motor skills, and coordination, and may also lead to problems with vision and cognition. Early intervention and treatment can improve the child’s outcomes and may even fully cure certain motor symptoms.

Characteristics of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy characteristics can be spotted as early as a few months or as late as 4 years of age. Some patients have it mildly and may learn to walk on their own with the help of a cane, while others have more severe cases and may require wheelchair assistance all their lives.

The chief distinguishing feature of Cerebral Palsy is impaired gait and movement as a result of damage to the brain. The location of the impaired function and the impact on muscle tone will differ from person to person. In general, the first sign that your children may have Cerebral Palsy is missing key developmental milestones, such as rolling over or crawling. 

There are six types of Cerebral Palsy, each with its own characteristics, that your child may be diagnosed with. We break down each of these as follows.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

This is the most common type of Cerebral Palsy and accounts for about 70% of all cases. It occurs due to damage in the brain’s motor cortex. Spastic Cerebral Palsy characteristics include:

  • Trouble lifting one’s head as a baby
  • Tightened muscles due to increased muscle tone
  • Rigidity and stiffness in the limbs
  • Exaggerated movements
  • Difficulties with breathing, speaking, and swallowing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Scoliosis (dislocation of the spine)
  • Limb and joint deformities
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills
  • Scissored gait
  • Drooling

Dystonic Cerebral Palsy

This is a subtype that is characterized by uncontrollable movements and muscle contractions that are often painful. It occurs due to damage in the basal ganglia, which controls motor function and learning. Depending on which body parts are affected, Dystonic Cerebral Palsy can be classified into:

  • Focal dystonia, which affects just one side of the body
  • Generalized dystonia, which affects the entire body or most of it
  • Hemidystonia, which affects an arm and the corresponding leg
  • Cervical dystonia, which affects the shoulders, head, and neck
  • Oromandibular dystonia, which affects the mouth, tongue, and jaw

The main Dystonic Cerebral Palsy characteristics include:

  • Movements that alternate between fast and slow
  • Involuntary movements that get worse if the child tries to control them
  • Gait problems
  • Painful movements and contractions
  • Clumsiness
  • Speech and swallowing difficulties
  • Foot cramps
  • Drooling
  • Uncontrollable blinking
  • Fatigue due to uncontrollable movements

Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy

This is a rare variant of Cerebral Palsy and also accounts for about 2.6% of cases. It occurs due to damage to the cerebellum. Its key symptoms include:

  • Low muscle tone
  • Floppy limbs 
  • Unusually flexible joints and ligaments
  • Excess muscle flexibility
  • Poor trunk stability
  • Unusually wide gait
  • Poor head control
  • Clumsiness
  • Slow reflexes
  • Exhaustion
  • Chewing and swallowing difficulties
  • Making grunting, breathy noises
  • Learning disabilities
  • Cognitive delays

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

This is a non-spastic variation of Cerebral Palsy that accounts for about 5% of all cases. It occurs due to damage to the cerebellum. Its chief characteristics include:

  • Low muscle tone
  • Involuntary movements that can be slow, fast, rhythmic, repetitive, or non-repetitive
  • Exaggerated movements when the patient attempts to move voluntarily
  • Poor balance and posture
  • Unsteady gait
  • Poor control over eye movements and depth perception
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Impaired fine motor skills like handwriting

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

This is a subtype of Cerebral Palsy in which the child’s muscles fluctuate between hypotonia and hypertonia. It occurs due to damage to the basal ganglia or the cerebellum or both. Its main features include:

  • Involuntary movements in the legs, arms, and hands
  • Slow writhing movements that are repetitive and rhythmic
  • Jerky, shaky movements
  • Twisting of the torso
  • Abnormal posture
  • Grimacing or drooling
  • Poor balance and coordination

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

This is a subtype in which the patient experiences symptoms of more than one of the above types of Cerebral Palsy. It occurs due to damage to more than one part of the brain, including the motor cortex, cerebellum, pyramidal tracts, or basal ganglia. The most common variant is Spastic-Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy. Mixed Cerebral Palsy accounts for about 15.4% of all Cerebral Palsy cases. The characteristics will vary depending on where the brain damage occurred and how severe it is. 

Treatment for Cerebral Palsy

Regardless of what characteristics of Cerebral Palsy a child may have, tailored rehabilitation is their best bet for symptom management and daily independence. The healthcare team will tailor each element of the program to the child’s specific needs and modify the treatment goals as the child shows progress. The chief objective is to help the child transition into adulthood as painlessly and independently as possible.

In general, a treatment program for Cerebral Palsy comprises:

  • Physiotherapy: This focuses on improving strength, flexibility, and coordination while easing pain. For patients with hypertonia, physiotherapy focuses on reducing the muscle contractures from the unusual tightness. For patients with hypotonia, the focus is on improving muscle strength through resistance training to improve control over floppy limbs.
  • Occupational Therapy: The aim of Occupational Therapy is to help children pick up activities of daily living, either on their own or with the help of assistive devices. For instance, the therapist can teach the child how to button clothes or use a fork to eat.
  • Mobility aids: These help the child move around as independently as possible. A brace, for instance, can correct bone and joint deformities when applied early. For children with more severe Cerebral Palsy characteristics, a wheelchair can help them get around without trouble.
  • Speech Therapy: This helps to train the muscles of the mouth, jaw, and tongue for easy and safe speaking and swallowing. 
  • Cognitive Therapy: One of the common characteristics of Cerebral Palsy is cognitive delays. Special therapists can help children overcome these through various mental exercises that build memory, attention span, and learning ability.
  • Massage Therapy: Massage helps to counteract the motor characteristics of Cerebral Palsy by easing muscle tension and helping the limbs relax. It also serves to mentally relax the child and improve their overall wellbeing.
  • Recreational Therapy: All children love to play, which is why recreational therapists focus on sessions that incorporate various types of games and activities that teach daily skills while being fun.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This is a revolutionary form of treatment in which the patient’s healthy cells are used to replace the damaged ones in the brain to reverse the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy. Studies have shown significant improvement in Cerebral Palsy characteristics with regular Stem Cell Therapy sessions, and it may even potentially be a cure someday.

FAQs

  • What characteristics do all individuals with Cerebral Palsy have?

Some of the classic characteristics of Cerebral Palsy include tremors, jerky movements, hypertonia/hypotonia, poor balance and coordination, difficulty swallowing, and vision problems.

  • What characteristic is common to all individuals with Cerebral Palsy?

No two cases of Cerebral Palsy are exactly alike. However, all individuals with Cerebral Palsy will have some degree of motor impairment as well as some form of difficulty with posture and coordination.

  • What are three early signs of Cerebral Palsy?

Some of the early signs of Cerebral Palsy include delays in hitting developmental milestones, exaggerated movements, and unusually stiff or floppy limbs.

  • What are the different classifications of Cerebral Palsy?

The various subtypes of Cerebral Palsy include Spastic, Dystonic, Athetoid, Hypotonic, Ataxic, and Mixed.

  • How would you describe the gait of Cerebral Palsy?

Patients with Cerebral Palsy tend to have gait problems including crouched gait, scissored gait, unusually wide gait, or toe walking.

  • What does mild Cerebral Palsy look like?

Mild Cerebral Palsy characteristics could include stiffness in one limb, walking with one foot dragging, or difficulty with fine motor skills. Many symptoms may not even be noticeable until the child is around four or five years old.

  • How do you diagnose Cerebral Palsy?

There is no one test to detect Cerebral Palsy. Doctors will typically assess the child’s reflexes and motor control in a clinical setting and then conduct tests such as an MRI, a cranial ultrasound,  or a CT scan to check for brain damage.

  • When do signs of Cerebral Palsy appear

The signs of Cerebral Palsy can appear within the first few months of a child’s life, and usually present as delays in hitting milestones like rolling over or crawling. However, in some mild cases, parents may not detect any symptoms until the child is a toddler.

In conclusion, Cerebral Palsy characteristics are a clue to the exact subtype of CP the child has, which is why parents should carefully observe their child’s behavior from an early age. It is also important to remember that no two cases of Cerebral Palsy look exactly alike. While there can be several less serious causes behind your child’s symptoms, your intuition as a parent is what matters the most. So if you feel that your child may have Cerebral Palsy, make an appointment with your doctor and get a diagnosis as soon as possible.

Physiotherapy for Cerebral Palsy: An Overview

physiotherapy-cerebral-palsy-min

As a non-progressive movement disorder, Cerebral Palsy can significantly impact a child’s life by hampering their ability to do voluntary movements. Introducing tailored physiotherapy early on, however, can address movement problems and even cure some of them. From coordination and balance to strength and muscle tone, there are several exercises to suit every need. Here, we offer a brief guide to the role of Physiotherapy in Cerebral Palsy treatment and how your child can make the most of it.

Understanding Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of non-progressive neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and gait. It occurs due to damage to the brain on account of an injury or infection before, during, or shortly after birth. Children with Cerebral Palsy experience a range of symptoms like unsteady gait, poor balance and coordination, pain, extreme muscle tone (hypertonia / hypotonia), speaking / swallowing difficulties, and cognitive delays. For Cerebral Palsy, early diagnosis and tailored rehabilitation give the child the best chance at a functional life. In addition to Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy, the doctor will also recommend Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Stem Cell Therapy.

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Depending on the severity and subtype of Cerebral Palsy, parents can detect it as early as a few months or as late as four or five years of age. Typical symptoms to watch out for at an early age include:

  • Exaggerated reflexes
  • Unusually stiff or floppy limbs
  • Delays in hitting developmental milestones like rolling over, or sitting up
  • Trouble holding head up without support
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Unsteady or unusual gait such as walking on toes
  • Jerky involuntary movements or slow writhing movements
  • Favoring only one limb or one side of the body
  • Drooling
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Slurred speech
  • Learning and intellectual difficulties
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Seizures

Benefits of Physiotherapy for Cerebral Palsy

Physiotherapy is the most critical component of any Cerebral Palsy program. It improves strength and flexibility, reduces pain from muscle contractures, and helps children move and get about as independently as possible. When introduced early, Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy can avoid many bone and joint deformities down the line and help children improve their self-reliance. Over time, it helps them participate better at home and school and integrate with peer groups, boosting their psychological well being.

Physiotherapy is tailored to each individual case and thus there are specific benefits for each subtype. Some of these include:

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy: Reduction in muscle tension and jerky movements as well as relieving stiffness through stretching
  • Athetoid Cerebral Palsy: Increasing muscle tone and acquiring more control over voluntary movements
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy: Improving balance, gait, and mobility

There are also special Physiotherapy exercises to target the associated conditions that often present with Cerebral Palsy, such as scoliosis, lumbar lordosis, pelvic inclination, knee or hand deformities, and shortened Achilles tendon.

Types of Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy

Before commencing a CP Physiotherapy program, the child undergoes an extensive evaluation so that the therapist can understand the location, range, and severity of the child’s symptoms. Accordingly, a tailored course of therapy with exercises, stretching, special equipment, and muscle relaxation will be prescribed. There is a wide range of Physiotherapy activities that address specific needs and limitations and maximize functionality. These include:

  • Passive stretching: This is a manual activity that eases soft tissue tightness. Over time, it helps to relieve spasticity, enable easier walking, and enhance range of motion. There are three main types of stretches, namely fast / quick, prolonged, and maintained. Passive stretching can be accomplished in the following ways:
    • Manual stretching: The force of body weight is often enough to induce a good stretch. Care should be taken to exert enough force to overcome hypertonia. 
    • Weight-bearing exercises: Weight-bearing can successfully target tight muscles in the lower body, as long as the child is standing at the correct angle to make sure the knees remain extended.
    • Splints: Splints are often used to improve resting posture, reduce spasticity, and enhance range of motion. They enable long-duration, low-force stretching.
  • Static weight-bearing exercises: This employs devices like tilt-tables and standing frames to guide children through load-bearing activities. It strengthens the muscles and helps reduce spasticity.
  • Functional exercises: These involve exercises that combine both aerobic and strength training to improve functionality and fitness in ambulatory children. Static biking, walking, running, plyometric exercises, and yoga are all beneficial activities that the child may enjoy.
  • Bimanual training: This focuses on improving coordination in the upper body through structured activities that employ both arms. Both play and functional activities may be recommended.
  • Body weight supported treadmill training: This focuses on developing the stepping reflex that is required for getting around. Therapists support the child with a harness in an upright posture, to reduce overall weight-bearing, and help them walk on a slow-moving treadmill. 
  • Electrical stimulation: This aims to improve muscle strength and nerve function by providing stimulation in a safe, non-invasive fashion. Therapists can do this in the clinic or bring a portable device to the patient’s home.
  • Massage therapy: Periodic massages serve as an important complement to CP Physiotherapy by helping the muscles relax and acting as a breather for the child. Massage can also help with pain relief.

Tips to make the most of Physiotherapy for Cerebral Palsy

Every child’s symptoms are unique, which is why a Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy program will look different for everyone. In addition, the program will have to evolve to keep pace with the child’s growth and changing physical needs. By taking extra care throughout the program, a child can maximize the benefits and see results as soon as possible. Here are our top tips for patients undergoing CP Physiotherapy.

  • Always choose a Physiotherapist who has experience working with children who have Cerebral Palsy. Ask your doctor for recommendations. 
  • Create a safe home environment for your child’s Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy. Cover any slippery floors with non-slip mats and remove any sharp objects.
  • Always start slow with any new exercise. For instance, with strength training, help the child through bodyweight exercises before introducing equipment.
  • Use assistive devices like braces, guard rails, or anti-slip gloves wherever necessary.
  • Keep an eye out for signs that your child is struggling or in pain. Encourage the child to speak up if they feel any kind of discomfort. Ensure that your child stops immediately in case of pain.
  • Always incorporate stretching exercises after any form of Physiotherapy. This will help ease muscle pain while maintaining a healthy muscle tone. Stretching, in fact, can be done multiple times a day for best results.
  • Ask the therapist to incorporate play activities as much as possible. Children may resist exercises that feel too much like hard work, but with a play component, they can relax and approach the exercise with more motivation.
  • Always keep encouraging the child and praising their wins, no matter how small.
  • Consult the doctor about any corrective surgeries that could help to fix prominent bone or joint deformities that can’t be overcome with Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy alone. A cast or brace could also help correct deformities.

FAQs

  • How can Physiotherapy help with Cerebral Palsy?

Physiotherapy for Cerebral Palsy helps patients learn how to move correctly and without pain or lack of coordination. It enhances both gross and fine motor skills and thus enables the patient to participate in various activities at home, school, and elsewhere.

  • What exercise is good for Cerebral Palsy?

Stretching is a vital exercise for any patient with Cerebral Palsy, as it helps relieve pain, reduce swelling, and elongate tight muscles.

  • Does stretching help Cerebral Palsy

A regular stretching regime as part of CP Physiotherapy has been demonstrated to ease spasticity and avoid joint deformities.

  • Is walking good for Cerebral Palsy?

For children who are able to use both legs, walking is an ideal form of aerobic exercise for Cerebral Palsy. Often, therapists may recommend the use of a brace or a walker to enable mobility.

  • How can I walk better with Cerebral Palsy?

Regular Physiotherapy with stretching and muscle training will help improve strength and mobility in the legs for better walking.

  • What is the meaning of PNF stretching?

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is an advanced type of flexibility training. It entails stretching as well as activation of the target muscle group so as to promote as much static flexibility as possible.

  • How do you position a child with Cerebral Palsy?

Maintaining a proper upright sitting and standing position enables maximum functionality, especially in the upper body.

  • Is Physiotherapy medical treatment?

Physiotherapy is a form of medical treatment. It focuses on rehabilitation and sustainable living for people with movement disorders like Cerebral Palsy.

  • How do physical therapists treat spasticity?

The Physiotherapist will guide the patient through focused stretching exercises and various other tone inhibition techniques to reduce spasticity. Assistive devices like splinting, casting, or bracing can also help depending on the child’s needs.

  • Does massage help with spasticity?

Massage can help to reduce pain, relax the muscles, and improve range of motion for patients with spasticity.

  • What is the most common therapy to help CP?

Cerebral Palsy treatment involves a range of therapies including Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Stem Cell Therapy.

  • How do you prevent tightness in Cerebral Palsy?

Tightness of the muscles or joints is a result of spasticity. Tailored CP Physiotherapy including stretching and strength exercises can ease tightness and improve range of motion over time.

In conclusion, Physiotherapy for Cerebral Palsy is one of the most effective forms of early intervention for the condition. If your child has received a CP diagnosis, talk to the doctor about the best forms of Physiotherapy for symptom reversal and management. In addition, be sure to make the experience as fun as possible for the child. The more they look forward to their CP Physiotherapy sessions, the more inspired they will be to try harder each time.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Autism: an Overview

cognitive-behavioral-therapy-helps-autism

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects behavior, emotions, and sensory processing in various ways. Treating it calls for a multi-faceted approach that teaches children how to regulate their thoughts and feelings and interact effectively with others. In this context, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy offers a systematic approach to improving mental patterns by recognizing one’s own negative tendencies and reframing them. Here, we take a closer look at how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Autism are linked.

Understanding Autism

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Children with Autism often have trouble following rules or communicating with others, which makes it hard for them to form relationships. Treatment in the form of Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, and Stem Cell Therapy can help the child pick up the skills they need to function optimally.

Understanding Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a problem-focused approach to psychotherapy that teaches the child coping skills to deal with various situations they might encounter. Essentially, it teaches patients how to be aware of their own thoughts and expectations to alter false beliefs or irrational expectations. There are two components to Cognitive Behavior Therapy. One is the cognitive component, which helps children change the way they think about a situation. Then there is the behavioral element, which helps children change the way they react to the situation. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy stems from the theory of behaviorism, which states that all human behavior is learned and can therefore be unlearned. The main goal of this form of therapy, therefore, is to replace negative behaviors with positive ones by altering thought patterns in a healthy way. It is a popular form of treatment for various mental and emotional disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Autism

If your child’s doctor deems that they can benefit from Cognitive Behavior Therapy, a specially trained therapist will work with them one-on-one. The therapist will first observe the child in a clinical setting and understand their behavioral tendencies and attitudes. Accordingly, they can design a tailored exercise program to help combat the child’s specific negative mental patterns. Therapists can also teach the child’s parents various tips to continue reinforcing the CBT lessons at home. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Autism helps children respond rationally to problems by breaking the problem down into smaller parts. Once they can recognize these smaller parts, they can understand the problem as a whole much better and approach it more positively. It is especially effective for those with mild Autism and has been demonstrated to give the child almost full control over their symptoms. The benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy include:

  • Helping children approach stressful situations: Cognitive Behavior Therapy helps children identify triggers that could cause anxiety and develop practical skills for responding to those triggers. They can thus circumvent their anxiety and fear and reduce the risk of a meltdown.
  • Reducing anxiety levels: Anxiety and anger management problems are extremely common among children with Autism. With Cognitive Behavior Therapy techniques, children have been demonstrated to cope much better with their anxiety as well as with associated emotional problems, like depression.
  • Adjusting maladaptive beliefs: Children with Autism may hold various kinds of negative or irrational beliefs. For instance, they may view situations as ‘black or white’ or ‘all or nothing’, where they focus only on extreme possibilities. They may also be prone to generalizing incidents, such as assuming that if they have failed at one task they will fail at all tasks by default. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps them break out of these spirals and approach each new situation on its own terms.
  • Building better social skills: Children with Autism often struggle with understanding social cues. With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, they can process conversation better and respond more appropriately to questions or feedback that may otherwise have triggered anxiety. This allows them to function better in group settings and ultimately form more friendships and relationships. 

Other treatment options for Autism

Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Autism works best when it is part of a comprehensive tailored treatment program for a child with Autism. Even those with milder symptoms will require different therapy options to cope with home environments, schoolwork, transitions, new places, social interactions, and so on. Some of the other treatments a doctor may recommend include:

  • Applied Behavior Therapy: This is one of the most popular therapy options for children with Autism. It involves helping children achieve positive goals through repetition, reinforcement, and rewards. 
  • Floortime: This is a form of play therapy in which the therapist or a caregiver literally gets down onto the floor with the child and plays with them. The goal is to encourage back-and-forth interactions with the child about where the game can go, such as by introducing a new toy.
  • Relationship Development Intervention (RDI): This involves encouraging positive social behaviors in the child through active participation from parents and caregivers, thus helping the child form stronger emotional connections. RDI focuses on building dynamic intelligence, which is what helps the child process information, cope with changes, and understand multiple perspectives.
  • Sensory Integration Therapy: This helps to moderate the child’s response to sensory input that they are overstimulated or under-stimulated by. It involves providing the child with a tailored sensory diet of colors, shapes, textures, smells, and tastes that they like, while also gradually introducing them to new ones. Parents will also be given recommendations on appropriate sensory toys for their child.
  • Occupational Therapy: This involves helping children with Autism pick up the skills they need to function independently at home, at school, and elsewhere. Occupational therapists will design a custom treatment program consisting of various adaptive and play-based activities, while taking the child’s preferences, sensory tolerances, and aggression levels into consideration.
  • Speech Therapy: Children with Autism tend to have trouble pronouncing words, understanding the context of words, or a tendency to simply repeat what is being said without understanding the words. A speech therapist works closely with the child to teach them how to use the language to express themselves, have a conversation, and communicate their needs. They may also teach special exercises to strengthen the mouth and jaw muscles for children with more advanced speech limitations.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This is a revolutionary form of treatment, the premise of which is for the body to heal itself well enough to mitigate the symptoms of Autism for longer periods.

As the child grows and demonstrates progress, the healthcare team may modify one or more of the above or even introduce new forms of therapy to meet changing needs. It is important for parents to carefully monitor their child’s progress and report any changes to the therapist.

FAQs

  • What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a psycho-social intervention that helps people recognize negative, unhelpful, or untrue thought patterns and beliefs. By identifying the way their thoughts and emotions work, the patient can alter their behavior for the better.

  • What is Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for autism?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Autism can be an important form of Autism intervention, especially if the child has co-occurring conditions like anxiety or ADHD. By teaching children how to alter their beliefs or actions, it helps them to avoid negative feelings. 

  • What are examples of Cognitive Behavioral Interventions?

Several commonly used techniques in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy include cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, journaling, activity scheduling, behavioral experiments, guided discovery, and so on.

  • What is the best therapy for Autism?

In general, behavioral therapies based on the principles of ABA are regarded as the most effective for children with Autism.

  • What is the difference between CBT and ABA?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy takes a broad treatment approach to bring about more lasting changes in the patient’s behavior and attitude. Applied Behavior Therapy, on the other hand, focuses on more specific and immediate needs. 

  • What is the difference between REBT and CBT?

REBT focuses more on the emotional component of negative thought patterns, while CBT focuses more on the logical element. However, both are approaches that involve reframing one’s attitudes for the better.

  • Is CBT behavior analytic?

Most CBT approaches include some type of functional analysis of behavior. This helps to determine which techniques will be most appropriate for each patient.

  • Is DBT a form of ABA?

DBT is closely related to other types of evidence-based care approaches such as ABA. The two can be used concurrently to treat Autism.

  • Is CBT a type of Behavioral Therapy?

CBT is among the most common types of behavioral therapy and has its origins in the 20th-century school of thought known as behaviorism. It has been demonstrated to be an effective form of treatment for various psychological and neurodevelopmental conditions like Autism, ADHD, depression, and anxiety. 

  • Is Autism a neurological disorder?

Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that is non-progressive and lasts the patient’s entire lifetime. It occurs due to brain damage and is thus classified as a neurological condition. 

  • Is Autism inherited from the mother or father?

It is difficult to say whether the mother’s genes or the father’s are responsible for any individual case of Autism. However, observations have shown that fathers pass on more than half of the structural variants in children with Autism.

  • What are cognitive restructuring techniques?

Cognitive restructuring techniques refer to a set of therapeutic practices that help people notice when their thoughts become negative or self-destructive and then alter their thoughts accordingly. It is a popular technique in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that helps people interrupt and redirect thought spirals before they lead to negative action.

As a popular psychotherapy technique since the 1960s, Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Autism is a highly reliable way to teach your child the coping skills they need. Talk to your child’s therapist about whether this may be a good treatment option, and learn as much as you can about CBT techniques that you can reinforce at home. With time and patience, your child will learn to pick up on their own triggers and develop a healthier, more positive attitude to life.

What Are the Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal Cord Injury

A Spinal Cord Injury is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition caused due to a traumatic event such as an accident. It leads to changes in body function, strength, and sensation that can be permanent in many cases. If you or someone around you has sustained physical trauma, it is vital to know the warning signs of an SCI so that you can seek medical attention as soon as possible and minimize the damage. Here, we outline the common symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injury 

A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) involves mutilation to the spinal cord that causes reversible or irreversible changes in its function. Symptoms may include the loss of muscle function, sensation, or autonomic function, in the parts of the body supplied by the spinal cord below the level of the injury. Spinal Cord Injury typically occurs due to violence, road accidents, or other such traumatic incidents. Treatment entails a regenerative rehabilitation program that includes  Stem Cell Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy,  Speech Therapy, and other procedures as deemed necessary.

Emergency signs of a Spinal Cord Injury

If someone has sustained trauma to the head or neck after an accident, violent encounter, or sports injury, they may be at risk of a Spinal Cord Injury. The injury may not be apparent at first, as many patients continue to be mobile for a while. Warning signs to watch out for include:

  • Numbness anywhere in the body
  • Difficulty walking
  • Oddly positioned back or neck
  • Severe pain in the back or neck
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of bladder/bowel control
  • Weakness and/or paralysis

If a patient is exhibiting one or more of these, it is vital that they not move and that they are taken to an emergency ward immediately. A neurologist can conduct appropriate tests and determine whether or not the patient has an SCI. 

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury 

The location and severity of Spinal Cord Injury symptoms will depend on how bad the injury is. If you experience a total loss of function and movement below the site of the injury, you have a complete SCI. If you still have some sensation and mobility below the site of the injury, you have an incomplete SCI. 

The typical symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury patients include:

  • Paralysis in two or more limbs, classified accordingly as diplegia, hemiplegia, or tetraplegia
  • Loss of or altered sensory abilities, such as the way the patient feels cold and heat
  • Exaggerated reflexes or spasms
  • Unusual lumps along the length of the spine
  • Pain or stinging sensation owing to nerve damage 
  • Difficulty coughing or clearing phlegm 
  • Sexual dysfunction and reduced fertility 

Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury

While completely recovering from a Spinal Cord Injury can be hard, consistent treatment can significantly enhance functionality and wellbeing. Neurologists and therapists will work together with the patient to craft a tailored treatment plan based on the patient’s symptoms and overall health. Typical treatment options include:

  • Physiotherapy, to restore strength and flexibility in the affected limbs 
  • Occupational Therapy, to help the patient complete daily activities of life with suitable modifications
  • Speech Therapy, to regain control over muscles in the mouth and neck for safe breathing, swallowing, and articulation
  • Mobility aids for getting around safely 
  • Stem Cell Therapy, a revolutionary treatment method that uses the patient’s own cells to generate healthy new cells in the CNS and thus potentially reverse the Spinal Cord Injury 

Living with a Spinal Cord Injury can significantly impact your physical, mental, and emotional wellness. It is important to take as much time as you need to process the reality of your situation, preferably with the help of psychological counseling. In addition, keep doing the things you enjoy and that matter to you, as far as possible, along with your treatment. The better your mental health, the more your motivation to heal, and the stronger your chances of recovery.

Marburg Multiple Sclerosis: An Introduction

Marburg Multiple Sclerosis

Most cases of Multiple Sclerosis involve steady disease progression that can be controlled with treatment and a near-normal lifespan. Sometimes, however, Multiple Sclerosis can progress rapidly and lead to significant disability levels within a short period of time. It can be disturbing to see one’s facilities decline so fast, which is why knowing what these subtypes of Multiple Sclerosis look like and getting a prompt check-up is critical. Here, we provide a brief introduction to Marburg Multiple Sclerosis.

Understanding Marburg Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. It is an autoimmune demyelinating disease, which means the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues — in this case, the myelin or protective covering around nerve fibers. This leaves scarred tissues or lesions in multiple areas, disrupting electrical impulses throughout the body. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve impulses slow down or even stop, causing neurological problems. 

Marburg Multiple Sclerosis is a type of malignant Multiple Sclerosis, in which disease progression is much faster than normal. These cases only affect about 5% of patients, but can have lethal outcomes. Marburg Multiple Sclerosis was defined by Austrian neurologist Otto Marburg in 1906 and is an acute fulminating demyelination process that causes severe disability within months or even weeks. In most cases, Marburg Multiple Sclerosis shortens the lifespan considerably. Those who survive longer will usually demonstrate the relapsing-remitting form of Multiple Sclerosis.

Symptoms of Marburg Multiple Sclerosis

Marburg Multiple Sclerosis occurs mostly in young adults. For the most part, Marburg Multiple Sclerosis involves the same MS symptoms as usual, only presenting much faster and more severely. This is because the demyelination occurs much more aggressively and causes marked tissue destruction and even necrosis. Patients may report a spike in symptoms like:

  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness in the extremities
  • Vision problems
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Bladder / bowel problems
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Cognitive decline

As the brainstem becomes affected or there is mass effect with herniation, patients may experience severe relapses with symptoms like:

  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Confused state
  • Unsteady gait
  • Hemiparesis

Diagnosing Marburg Multiple Sclerosis

Marburg Multiple Sclerosis can only manifest in patients who already have an MS diagnosis. There is no specific test for it, and doctors will typically conduct tests to eliminate other possibilities. Some of the tests a patient can expect include a neurological exam, a spinal tap, an MRI, and a CT scan. These help to detect demyelination, lesions in the central nervous system, or white matter abnormalities. Marburg Multiple Sclerosis may sometimes appear as a brain tumor on scans, which is why doctors may conduct more tests and take longer to give a definitive diagnosis.

Treatment for Marburg Multiple Sclerosis

Earlier, the aggressive disease progression meant that most patients succumbed within one or two years of disease onset. Modern medication, however, can help some patients reach stability in around three years.

As part of their treatment, patients may need to intensify the Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy that they were anyway undergoing for Multiple Sclerosis. Doctors may also recommend mobility aids like walkers and wheelchairs to get around safely. In addition, autologous Stem Cell Therapy has shown considerable promise in reducing symptoms and increasing the time between MS relapses.

Marburg Multiple Sclerosis can be a tough diagnosis to receive, but modern treatment methods can assure patients of a much longer lifespan than before. Getting an early diagnosis is critical and can make or break the patient’s prognosis. It is vital that loved ones support the patient as much as possible through this journey and engage them in meaningful activities that make for a functioning, enjoyable lifestyle.

Cognitive Impairment in Cerebral Palsy: An Overview

Cognitive Impairment in Cerebral Palsy

Cognitive ability refers to the ability to use intellectual capacity to perceive, learn, and understand what is happening around us. While cognitive impairment is not a diagnostic criterion for Cerebral Palsy, up to half of all children with Cerebral Palsy will be cognitively challenged to some degree. With suitable intervention and support, patients can learn the cognitive skills they need to function effectively at home, school, and elsewhere. Here, we offer a brief introduction to what cognitive impairment in Cerebral Palsy looks like.

Understanding Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of non-progressive neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and gait. It occurs due to damage to the brain on account of an injury or infection before, during, or shortly after birth. Children with Cerebral Palsy struggle with symptoms like unsteady gait, poor balance, lack of coordination, extreme muscle tone (hypertonia/hypotonia), and cognitive delays. Treatment for Cerebral Palsy such as Stem Cell Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Cognitive Rehabilitation can manage the symptoms and help the child be as functional as possible.

Causes of cognitive impairment in Cerebral Palsy

Around 30-50% of children with Cerebral Palsy have some level of cognitive impairment. The more severe the Cerebral Palsy, the higher the degree of impairment.

Cerebral Palsy occurs because of damage sustained by the child’s brain as a consequence of injury or infection. This damage can also affect the centers of the brain that transmit accurate information from the inputs received from outside. As a result, the patient may experience problems with attention span, comprehension, language skills, memory, decision-making, recognition, and so on.

The nature and extent of the cognitive impairment will depend on where the injury occurred and how severe it was. In some cases, the exact causal factor may be unknown. Some of the conditions that can cause brain damage before, during, or shortly after birth include:

  • Chromosomal abnormalities
  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Congenital hypothyroidism
  • Prenatal infections
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Complications during birth
  • Head trauma during or shortly after birth
  • Maternal stroke

Signs of cognitive impairment

While cognitive impairment can be difficult to detect at an early age, parents should watch the way their child interacts with the external environment. Typically, children with cognitive impairment will hit developmental milestones much later than normal, or may miss them altogether. 

Signs of cognitive impairment in babies include:

  • Not responding to parents’ voices
  • Not recognizing parents’ faces
  • Not responding to external stimuli like loud noises or bright lights
  • Not smiling or showing affection
  • Not responding to or shying away from touch

Signs in older children include:

  • Delays in language development
  • Trouble processing what is being said to them
  • Poor attention span
  • Poor memory
  • Inability to recognize sounds, lights, or names
  • Trouble interacting with others
  • Temper tantrums
  • Speech delays
  • Sensory processing disorders

In addition, the child may have co-occurring conditions like:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Behavioral disorders
  • Difficulty processing emotions

Treatment for cognitive impairment

While there is no cure for the brain damage that caused the cognitive impairment, treatment can teach children the skills they need to achieve learning goals, interact with the environment around them, and communicate effectively with others. Parents who suspect that their child with Cerebral Palsy may have cognitive impairment should consult the child’s doctor without delay. A typical treatment program may include:

  • Special education: Special educators may work in conjunction with the child’s school teachers to help them with classroom learning. Some of the techniques they might use include pictures with words to develop picture-word association, flash cards to help them remember concepts like colors or animal names, using short sentences to communicate verbally, and reading aloud to children.
  • Speech Therapy: Speech therapists will teach children various exercises to articulate words clearly and intelligibly. 
  • Occupational Therapy: Children with cognitive impairment may not know how to use their body correctly to perform everyday tasks. Occupational therapists break down each task into short, simple steps that are easier to pick up.
  • Behavior Therapy: Children with cognitive impairments frequently act out, either as a symptom or as a result of frustration about their condition. Behavioral therapists can teach children healthy ways of expressing their feelings while showing them how to conduct themselves at home and in public settings. 
  • Psychologists: Psychological counseling can help children work through their emotions and deal with problems like anxiety or depression. 

Living with a cognitive impairment can be hard, but a tailored treatment plan can ensure that the child picks up the cognitive skills they need to perform academically and fit in with their peers. Parents can support their child by ensuring that they always praise their child’s progress and listen to them when they express feelings. With enough love and care, children can be healthy and happy no matter what their cognitive abilities are.

What Are the Different Types of Behavior Therapy?

Behavior Therapy

While Behavior Therapy has its origins in the 20th century school of behaviorism, it has only recently come into its own as a widespread form of treatment. It involves a range of techniques that address unwanted behavior and teach positive replacements for it. Whether you suffer from anxiety or find yourself spiraling into depressive thoughts, this type of therapy can be the ideal treatment option for you. Read on to know more about how it works. 

Understanding Behavior Therapy

Behavior Therapy is a type of psychotherapy that seeks to identify, process, and change negative or harmful behavioral patterns. The core premise of such therapy is that all behaviors are learned, and can therefore be changed for the better with the right approach. It is an action-based technique which focuses on the behavior as the problem, with the solution rooted in new behaviors that eliminate or reduce the issue. It is a highly focused therapy customized to each patient’s mentality, thought processes, beliefs, and emotional responses.

Types of Behavior Therapy

There are several types of Behavior Therapy that a therapist might recommend, depending on what the patient is dealing with and how severe it is. Some of the popular ones include:

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy: This is perhaps the most common form of Behavior Therapy. It focuses on the way someone’s thoughts and emotions influence their decisions and actions, with the intent of modifying those patterns into healthier ones. It is often recommended for dealing with current problems, such as depression or anxiety following a traumatic event, or processing grief after a grave personal loss.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy: This involves observing children while at play and evaluating their emotions, desires, and communication styles. The therapist will use play to communicate more effectively with the child and teach parents how to do the same. Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy is especially useful for children with behavior or personality disorders.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy: This is a modified version, that helps patients deal better with daily challenges and live in the moment. Mindfulness is one of the core tenets and emphasizes on slowing down, paying attention to sensory inputs, and avoiding knee-jerk responses to emotional situations. It also helps with distress tolerance during tough moments and improving interpersonal relations through healthy expression of one’s needs. 
  • Aversion Therapy: This type of Behavior Therapy is useful for addressing substance abuse or alcoholism. It involves training the mind to associate the desire for the substance with an unpleasant stimulus, and thus curbing the urge to give into the desire. For instance, the therapist might teach an alcoholic to associate drinking with a bad memory or a grotesque mental image. 
  • System Desensitization: This is used frequently to treat phobias of various kinds. Based on classical conditioning, it involves replacing the fear response to the source of the phobia, using relaxation techniques. The therapist first teaches the patient how to breathe and relax, then exposes them to the phobia in increasing doses so that they learn how to put those techniques into practice.
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT): This form of Behavior Therapy focuses on breaking down irrational beliefs and dealing with emotions in a healthier way. The therapist helps the patient identify the trigger at the heart of an emotional response and then assess whether that response is logically consistent with facts. Ultimately, it enables patients to deal with conflicts and obstacles in a psychologically healthy way.

Who should opt for Behavior Therapy

Such therapy a useful intervention for people with conditions like:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Panic disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • ADHD
  • Eating disorders
  • Social anxiety
  • Phobias
  • OCD
  • Substance abuse

It can also help people cope with stress, burnout, divorce, or the death of a loved one. Both children and adults can benefit from this type of therapy. Cognitive Behavior Therapy, in particular, has been observed to bring about significant benefits for patients. 

When opting for Behavior Therapy, it’s important to take your time and look around for a therapist you can trust completely. Try to work with someone who has experience treating your specific problem, if possible. While you might feel nervous about opening up at first, you will soon start seeing the benefits of reframing your thoughts, and guiding yourself towards healthier choices. 

 

Speech Therapy for Spinocerebellar Ataxia: An Overview

Speech Therapy for Spinocerebellar Ataxia

Spinocerebellar Ataxia is a genetic condition that affects a patient’s ability to conduct voluntary movements like standing, walking, or speaking. Medical advances in treatment and therapy options now enable patients to live a highly functional life. In particular, Speech Therapy has consistently enabled patients to speak intelligibly and swallow safely, helping them get the requisite nutrition, while also participating actively in society. Here, we offer a brief introduction to the role of Speech Therapy in Spinocerebellar Ataxia treatment

Understanding Spinocerebellar Ataxia

Spinocerebellar Ataxia, Spinocerebellar Atrophy, or Spinocerebellar Degeneration is a genetic disease caused by either a recessive or dominant gene. It refers to a group of ataxias that are known to be hereditary and cause harm to the cerebellum. This part of the brain maintains balance and controls movements. Spinocerebellar Ataxia may result in non-coordinated gait, impaired hand-eye coordination, and abnormal speech. Since this condition affects the nervous system, it is known as a nervous disorder. 

Spinocerebellar Ataxia can be inherited in an autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive fashion. There are several types of Spinocerebellar Ataxia, but common symptoms among all include poor coordination and balance, involuntary movements, spasticity, and speech and swallowing problems. A tailored neuro-rehabilitation program can help manage symptoms, slow disease progression, and improve quality of life. 

How Speech Therapy benefits Spinocerebellar Ataxia patients

Dysarthria and dysphagia are two of the most common symptoms of Spinocerebellar Ataxia. Nerve signals to the mouth and neck muscles get disrupted as a result of brain damage, leading to slurred speech, softened tone, and trouble swallowing. 

Speech Therapy with a professional therapist can help improve the patient’s capabilities in speech, communication, and swallowing. Based on the patient’s current abilities and needs, the therapist will coach them in a variety of exercises to improve control over the muscles in the mouth, jaw, tongue, and throat. Some treatment methods could include:

  • Speaking slowly so that each word is intelligible
  • Employing breathing techniques to improve speech quality
  • Altering posture while speaking to maintain an even and audible voice quality
  • Playing word games to improve language processing skills
  • Exercises that trigger the swallowing reflex to enable safe swallowing

For those with advanced ataxia, the therapist can teach them how to use speech aids to communicate, such as a laptop linked to a voice synthesizer. The speech therapist may also recommend special diets including blended foods and meals with soft textures. 

Other treatments 

Speech Therapy is recommended as part of a comprehensive rehabilitation program to manage Spinocerebellar Ataxia symptoms. Other components of the program will usually include:

  • Physiotherapy to improve muscle strength, overall stability, core strength, balance, and coordination
  • Adaptive devices such as walkers or wheelchairs to improve balance and enable safe mobility 
  • Occupational Therapy to help the patient complete daily activities of living on their own
  • Counseling, to help manage the stress of living with a neurological condition 
  • Stem Cell Therapy, a form of regenerative therapy that uses the patient’s own cells to replace the brain and nerve cells damaged by Spinocerebellar Ataxia 

Living with Spinocerebellar Ataxia can be tough, but modern treatment methods can significantly improve one’s quality of life. With regular Speech Therapy, the patient can learn to speak clearly, communicate their needs and feelings, and eat the foods they love safely. In addition, taking the support of loved ones and engaging in activities one enjoys will help the patient navigate this challenging journey more fruitfully. 

Spinal Muscular Atrophy: An Overview

Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Spinal Muscular Atrophy is a rare genetic disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness and wastage. The symptoms are usually evident from birth, and infants who exhibit hypotonia and breathing trouble should be tested immediately for a diagnosis. Research continues on why this rare condition presents and how it can be treated or even cured. Here, we provide a brief guide to what we know so far.

Understanding Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Spinal Muscular Atrophy is a genetic disorder that causes weakness and wastage (atrophy) in the skeletal muscles. It occurs due to a loss in motor neurons and primarily affects the muscles closer to the body’s center (proximal) rather than the muscles further away (distal). Patients experience progressive muscle weakness and breathing problems, also these can vary in severity depending on the subtype of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Treatment can help to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. Spinal Muscular Atrophy affects about one in every 8000-10000 people worldwide.

Types of Spinal Muscular Atrophy

There are five main types of Spinal Muscular Atrophy:

  • Type 0: This is the rarest and most severe subtype of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Patients move less while in the womb and frequently display joint defects and hypotonia at birth. Some may also have congenital heart defects. Respiratory failure is common owing to weak respiratory muscles, and most patients do not survive past their infancy.
  • Type I: This is also known as Werdnig-Hoffman disease and is the most common subtype of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Muscle weakness is present right from birth or a few months after, and children are generally unable to raise their heads or sit up unaided. Swallowing problems are a common symptom, which could lead to suboptimal feeding. Weakness in the respiratory muscles and an abnormal bell-shaped chest that prevents lungs from expanding fully also lead to breathing difficulties and respiratory failure. Most patients do not survive past early childhood. 
  • Type II: Also known as Dubowitz disease, this type of Spinal Muscular Atrophy affects children between 6-12 months of age. While they tend to need help with sitting up, they can stay seated without support. However, they cannot stand or walk without help, especially as they grow older and the muscle weakness worsens. Other symptoms include scoliosis, tremors in the fingers, and breathing problems. Most individuals live into their twenties or thirties.
  • Type III: Also known as Kugelberg-Welander disease, it typically sets in after early childhood. Patients may be able to stand and walk on their own initially, although this becomes progressively harder as the muscle weakness sets in. Life expectancy is usually normal, although patients may require a wheelchair later on.
  • Type IV: This is a rare subtype of Spinal Muscular Atrophy that begins in early adulthood. Symptoms include mild to moderate muscle weakness and tremors as well as some breathing problems. Life expectancy tends to be normal.

Causes of Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Spinal Muscular Atrophy occurs due to mutations in the SMN1 gene. The subtype and severity of the condition depends on the number of copies of the SMN2 gene. 

Both of these genes are responsible for controlling the production of the survival motor neuron (SMN) protein. The SMN protein is one among a group of proteins known as the SMN complex, which serve to maintain the motor neurons that transmit movement-related signals from the brain to the muscles. In Spinal Muscular Atrophy, part of the SMN1 gene is missing, which inhibits SMN protein production and subsequently leads to motor neuron death. As a result, signals cannot be transmitted properly between the brain and the muscles. This causes muscles to weaken and waste away over time.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy is passed on in autosomal recessive fashion, with both copies of the SMN1 gene in each cell having the mutation.

Treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy generally involves a regenerative rehabilitation program that maximizes muscle control and ease of movement for the patient. The typical components of a treatment program are:

  • Physiotherapy, to impart strength and flexibility to the muscles and thus aid gross and fine motor skills
  • Occupational Therapy, to help patients complete daily activities like eating and dressing with as little assistance as possible
  • Speech Therapy, to help patients articulate clearly and also gain more control over their swallowing and breathing
  • Stem Cell Therapy, a revolutionary type of treatment that uses the patient’s own cells to replace damaged nerve cells and thus potentially slow down disease progress
  • Surgery, to correct certain bone or joint deformities 

Living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy can be hard, which is why an early diagnosis and an intervention plan is critical. With proper treatment and mobility aids, patients can enjoy a much higher quality of life. In addition, parents and caregivers should surround their children with as much love and support as possible to help them navigate this condition with a smile.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: An Overview

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

We’ve all been affected by negative thought patterns at some point. For many, however, those patterns become persistent, adversely affecting daily decisions and actions, often leading to conditions like anxiety or depression. Breaking out of those patterns may seem impossible, but there are behavioral strategies to help reframe those thought patterns and avoid the triggers leading up to them. Here, we offer a brief guide to how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works and when you should opt for it.

Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves learning to identify and move away from thought patterns that negatively affect emotions, decisions, and behaviors. It helps patients view the negative thoughts objectively, challenge them, and replace them with healthier patterns. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has its origins in the 1960s when psychiatrist Aaron Beck observed that certain thought patterns led to mental and emotional problems. It is different from the use of positive or negative reinforcements to modify behavior, in that it emphasizes thoughts and feelings and how they can be reframed to create positive behavior patterns. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be practiced with a psychotherapist as well as on one’s own through self-help mechanisms. It is generally recommended as a short-term therapy, lasting anywhere between 5 and 20 sessions. 

When done regularly, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help patients develop healthy thinking patterns that allow them to navigate the world and make decisions rationally. As such, it is suitable not only for those with mental health conditions but also for those looking to manage stressful life situations more effectively. 

What Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help with 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is commonly prescribed for a variety of psychological conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Anger management problems
  • Personality disorders
  • Stress
  • Low self-esteem
  • Insomnia
  • Phobias

It can also help people process and move on from life-changing events like death, divorce, loss of a job, a health diagnosis, trauma from assault, or relationship problems.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques

A psychotherapist trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will first gather information from you by asking what you have been struggling with and what you would like to accomplish. They will help you understand your mental health condition better and what your triggers are for negative thinking. 

Finally, they will provide you with a set of strategies to help you cope with and move away from negative thought patterns. While the exact techniques prescribed will depend on the nature and severity of your symptoms, the most common Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques are as follows:

  • Identifying negative thoughts: This is the initial stage, where the patient talks to the therapist and is honest about the thoughts, beliefs, and emotions that lead to negative spirals. It can be difficult to open up about these things, but it is crucial for gaining insights into triggers and determining which coping mechanisms are most appropriate. 
  • Setting goals: This involves choosing specific short-term and long-term goals for what you want to accomplish with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The therapist will help you frame them as SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based) and also show you how to appreciate the process as much as the final outcome.
  • Cultivating a problem-solving approach: This will help you approach general life problems and mental health triggers in an objective way so that you can get closer to a solution. It helps to spot and classify the exact nature of a problem, consider a range of solutions, and implement the best one. 
  • Engaging in new skills: This involves regularly practicing coping mechanisms in real-life situations so as to get better at dealing with negative triggers. It could involve strategies to redirect from a train of negative thought, or healthy habits like meditating or yoga that promote overall positivity.
  • Self-monitoring: This involves keeping track of your symptoms, activities, and mental patterns for personal records as well as to share with the therapist. For instance, it could involve chronicling depressive thoughts and the triggers that led up to them, or recording what one ate and how one felt about it in the case of an eating disorder.

When you start Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, it is important to be open and honest during the sessions and to practice the techniques given to you. Work as a team with your therapist to set goals, and be patient about seeing results. Above all, don’t feel embarrassed about needing therapy to cope. We all need a little extra help at times, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapyis just another form of treatment like depression counseling or Occupational Therapy. Put in the work and keep showing up, and you’ll soon be able to cope much better. 

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

ataxic-cerebral-palsy-causes-sym

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is a subtype of Cerebral Palsy, a non-progressive neurological condition that affects voluntary movement. Children with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy struggle with a characteristic lack of coordination and balance, as well as problems with speech and motor skills. As the least common type of Cerebral Palsy, it’s important to understand exactly what it looks like so that you know what to do if your child receives a diagnosis of it. Here, we offer a brief introduction to Ataxic Cerebral Palsy and its symptoms and treatment options.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is a subtype of Cerebral Palsy, which refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and motor skills caused by damage or abnormalities in the developing brain. It typically occurs due to injury or infection before, during, or shortly after birth. Around 2.4% of Cerebral Palsy cases are Ataxic Cerebral Palsy. The word ‘ataxia’ is a Greek word that means ‘lack of order or coordination’. Children with this form of Cerebral Palsy, therefore, experience problems with balance, gait, and coordination, most visibly in the arms and legs. The condition is long term, but treatment helps in improving control over movements and completing daily tasks more effectively.

Symptoms of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy tends to manifest first as hypotonia (lack of muscle tone) in the first six months to one year after birth. Children of this age may have unusually floppy limbs, which may improve as the child grows older but never reach fully normal levels. As they grow older, symptoms may manifest as delays in hitting developmental milestones such as rolling over, sitting up, standing, and walking. Common Ataxic Cerebral Palsy symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Unbalanced, jerky gait
  • Walking with legs unusually far apart
  • Poor balance
  • Trouble bringing hands together
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills like writing 
  • ‘Intention’ tremors that kick in when attempting to reach out or perform a specific task
  • Difficulty with visual depth perception
  • Shakiness and tremors
  • Slow eye movements
  • Speech difficulties like scanning (speaking in a monotone and abnormal rhythm)
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • Impaired eye movement and control
  • Cognitive delays
  • Seizures (in some cases)

Causes and Risk Factors of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy occurs due to damage to the cerebellum at, before, or shortly after birth. The cerebellum is responsible for balance and coordination as well as posture and communication, and fine-tunes movement commands for the rest of the body. When the cerebellum is damaged, motor signals cannot be relayed properly to the central nervous system and movement disorders ensue. Damage can occur due to:

  • Head trauma at the time of or shortly after being born
  • Maternal infections during pregnancy
  • Genetic conditions
  • Loss of oxygen to the brain of the fetus
  • Perinatal asphyxia
  • Fetal stroke, which can occur due to high blood pressure in the mother
  • Placental infections
  • Injuries due to negligence during the birthing process
  • Being shaken as a baby
  • Low birth weight
  • Multiple births (such as twins and triplets)

If the parent can prove that the Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is due to negligence or malpractice on the part of the healthcare provider, they can potentially seek compensation in court.

Diagnosing Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

There is no specific diagnostic test for Ataxic Cerebral Palsy. In the case of premature birth or other prenatal / postnatal conditions that are known risks for Cerebral Palsy, doctors may monitor them from an early age for signs.

If a child has been exhibiting symptoms, it is important to get a checkup immediately. The doctor will assess their abilities in the clinic setting, including muscle tone, reflexes, movements, and overall growth, and may run some general tests before recommending the patient to a specialist. The specialist will conduct a more detailed neurological test along with an MRI scan, a CT scan, electromyography (EMG), or electroencephalography (EEG). This not only checks for signs of brain and/or muscle damage but also eliminates other conditions that could be causing the symptoms. Some specialists will also recommend speech, hearing, and vision tests, as well as a visit to an orthopedic doctor for a more detailed examination of the child’s movements and reflexes.

Overall, most cases of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy can be diagnosed within the first two years of life. It may sometimes take a while to confirm the diagnosis, though, so parents should be patient and not panic.

Treatment for Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

There are several treatment options the doctor can recommend based on the child’s symptoms. Treatment focuses on improving bodily coordination and improving the child’s proficiency at daily tasks. Typically, an Ataxic Cerebral Palsy treatment plan will include:

  • Physical Therapy: This is among the most important components of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy treatment. Therapists will work with the child’s individual limitations and recommend exercises to improve strength and flexibility and to enable gross and fine motor skills. Types of Physical Therapy include developmental activities for walking, adaptive play, coordination exercises, strength training, and ways to prevent injury.
  • Occupational Therapy: This focuses on helping children perform daily tasks like eating and getting dressed, while also improving their hand-eye coordination. Therapists will use a variety of exercises and games to accomplish this. Occupational Therapy can also help improve cognitive ability and depth perception, allowing children to be more effective at their schoolwork and in social environments. Occupational therapy can take place at the therapist’s office, at home, or at the child’s school as part of their routine.
  • Speech Therapy: Low muscle tone can impair the child’s ability to speak and swallow correctly. Therapists can teach safe swallowing techniques and help children with proper articulation.
  • Massage therapy: This can help to ease muscle hypotonia and improve circulation around any bone/joint injuries. This may include electrical stimulation or the application of heat to ease pain
  • Assistive devices: Most children with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy will have trouble walking as they grow older. Devices like leg braces, walkers, or wheelchairs can enhance mobility. Therapists will work with children to show them how to use these devices safely without injuring or chafing themselves.
  • Diet: Healthcare teams will often recommend special nutrition to encourage growth and fitness in a child with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy. In general, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is ideal.
  • Medication: The doctor may recommend certain medicines to ease muscle stiffness or floppiness, as well as to treat any co-occurring conditions like epilepsy, ADHD, or incontinence. 
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This is a revolutionary new treatment in which the patient’s own stem cells are used to grow healthy new cells and potentially reverse the brain damage causing Ataxic Cerebral Palsy. It is safe and effective, and patients can return home the same day as the treatment.

Parents and caregivers will need to help their child perform the exercises at home and ensure that the living space is adjusted as needed for the child’s safety. For instance, as children navigate poor coordination and unsteady gait, it might be a good idea to pad the floors with carpeting and cushion any hard edges on furniture so that the child doesn’t hurt themselves even if they fall.

FAQs

  • What does ataxic CP look like?

The word ataxia means a lack of order or coordination. Patients with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, therefore, display movements that are clumsy, uncoordinated, and jerky.

  • Does ataxic Cerebral Palsy affect intelligence?

While Ataxic Cerebral Palsy primarily affects motor functions on coordination and gait, it can also affect cognitive function depending on the extent of the brain damage.

  • What is tremor Cerebral Palsy?

Tremors occur due to damage to the part of the brain known as the cerebellum. In Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, children frequently experience intention tremors, in which the tremor kicks in when they are trying to perform a deliberate movement like picking up an object.

  • What are 3 early signs of Cerebral Palsy?

Three early signs that could indicate Cerebral Palsy include developmental delays in actions like crawling or sitting, abnormal posture, and abnormal muscle tone.

  • Is ataxic Cerebral Palsy genetic?

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is the subtype of Cerebral Palsy with the largest genetic component. Up to 50% of cases are inherited in an autosomal recessive fashion.

  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy affects what part of the brain?

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy occurs because of damage to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls coordination and balance.

  • What are the 4 types of Cerebral Palsy?

The four key types of Cerebral Palsy include Spastic, Dystonic, Ataxic and Mixed.

  • What does Ataxia look like in babies?

Among the most prominent Ataxic Cerebral Palsy symptoms is unsteady gait. Young children will typically walk with their legs much further apart than normal and may frequently fall over when trying to stand or walk.

  • What does Ataxia mean?

Ataxia refers to abnormal uncoordinated movements that occur due to a lack of muscle control over voluntary movements. Ataxia can affect gross and fine motor skills, speech, and eye movement.

  • What is the relationship between infection of the brain and Cerebral Palsy?

Certain types of infections such as German measles, toxoplasmosis, herpes, and cytomegalovirus can damage the brain of the developing fetus or newborn infant, which could lead to Cerebral Palsy later in life.

  • Does CP get worse with age?

Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive disorder, which means that it will not worsen as the child grows older. 

  • Can a virus cause Cerebral Palsy?

Certain viral and bacterial infections, when contracted by either the pregnant mother or the infant, could cause brain damage that later leads to Cerebral Palsy.

In conclusion, life with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy can be difficult, but early intervention goes a long way in correcting the child’s movement disorders and helping them function better. Parents should regularly take their young children for check-ups so that any symptoms can be spotted and evaluated right away. With the right care and enough love and support from you, your child can take their Ataxic Cerebral Palsy diagnosis in their stride and lead a happy life.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy: An Overview

dyskinetic-cerebral-palsy

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy is one of the four subtypes of Cerebral Palsy and occurs due to damage sustained by the cerebellum or basal ganglia. It causes involuntary contractures and gait abnormalities that can be highly painful to navigate, which is why it is vital for children to start receiving treatment as early as possible. It is natural to feel overwhelmed if you hear that your child has Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy, which is why having a thorough understanding of what to expect is critical. Here, we provide a brief guide to the same.

Understanding Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy is a subtype of Cerebral Palsy, which refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and motor skills caused by damage or abnormalities in the developing brain. It typically occurs due to injury or infection before, during, or shortly after birth. Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy is a subtype characterized by abrupt involuntary movements that can be fast and jerky or slow and writhing. Often, children exhibit a range of symptoms on the basis of which doctors further subdivide the diagnosis. The two main Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy types include:

  • Athetoid Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy: This subtype leads to sudden movements in the limbs, hands, and feet, and sometimes the face and tongue. The movements may be jerky or slow and can be repetitive at times, or may be continuous and writhing and get worse as the child tries to move. Stress may exacerbate the movements.
  • Dystonic Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy: This leads to random and twisting involuntary movements when the child tries to move on their own, which can be painful. Here too, the movements may be either fast or slow. Dystonia may occur all over the body or just in certain limbs.

However, these terms are often used interchangeably, and the causes and treatments are the same for both. As a non-progressive disease, Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy will not worsen with time, although the patient’s needs may evolve as they grow older. Treatment helps to manage the symptoms and improve the patient’s overall functionality.

Symptoms of Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Patients with Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy have difficulty moving their muscles the way they want them to. The symptoms will vary based on the location and extent of the brain damage. There is considerable overlap between the symptoms of the Athetoid and Dystonic subtypes, which is why we can list them together. The commonly observed Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy symptoms include:

  • Developmental delays in crawling, sitting up, standing, walking, or reaching for objects
  • Abnormal involuntary movements, either fast or slow
  • Twisting of the torso
  • Writhing movements in the hands or limbs
  • Pain during involuntary movements
  • Uncontrollable eye movements and/or squinting
  • Involuntary facial movements like grimacing or drooling
  • Muscle spasms from hypertonia or hypotonia and fluctuations between the two
  • Difficulty holding onto objects
  • Difficulties with balance and posture
  • Problems with speaking and swallowing
  • Comorbidities like epilepsy

The initial symptoms of Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy, including jerky movements and poor balance, may be noticeable as early as nine months of age. However, some children may have irregular movement patterns simply because of a developmental delay and not Cerebral Palsy. Parents should thus avoid panicking and rely on the child’s doctor to provide a diagnosis. 

Causes and risk factors of Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy occurs due to damage to the brain before, during, or shortly after birth. Specifically, Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy occurs due to damage sustained by either the cerebellum or the basal ganglia.

  • Basal ganglia damage: The basal ganglia are a group of nuclei located in the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that controls voluntary movement. The basal ganglia also regulate learning and thinking. When the basal ganglia are damaged, motor function is disrupted, which leads to involuntary movements.
  • Cerebellum damage: The cerebellum regulates precision of movement, coordination, and balance, along with cognitive functions like attention and communication. When the cerebellum is damaged, it affects fine motor skills and general coordination, and may also lead to co-occurring conditions like epilepsy or autism. 

The risk factors for Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy include:

  • Infections during pregnancy
  • Complications during birth or negligence on the part of the physician
  • Premature birth
  • Blood clots in the placenta
  • Fetal strokes
  • Genetic conditions
  • Lack of oxygen during pregnancy or at birth
  • Jaundice, meningitis, or other infections shortly after birth
  • Head trauma sustained at or after birth

Diagnosing Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

There is no specific diagnostic test for Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy. If you observe symptoms in your child, it is important to get an appointment with a doctor who will observe your child’s movements and reflexes in a clinic setting. As a parent, you will need to provide a full medical history for the child, including any conditions that run in the family, along with detailed information on your child’s symptoms. 

If the doctor suspects Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy, they may then recommend you to a specialist who will closely examine your child’s movement, speech, hearing, reflexes, posture, and coordination. Some of the tests they might order include an MRI, a CT scan, an electroencephalography (EEG), and an electromyography (EMG). These serve to identify brain damage and also rule out any other conditions that may be causing the symptoms. In addition, they may recommend specialists who will assess the child’s speech, hearing, vision, and intellectual capabilities. Getting a final diagnosis might take thus some time, up to several months in some cases. It is important to be patient and not panic unduly.

Treatment for Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

A treatment plan tailored to your child’s symptoms and abilities will help to expand their range of functional movement. The earlier the intervention, the better your child’s chances at gaining motor control and functionality. Typically, Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy treatment will feature the following:

  • Physical Therapy: This is perhaps the most essential component of Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy treatment. It includes a variety of exercises to improve muscle strength, coordination, and control over gross and fine motor skills. There will typically be daily sessions with a therapist, which may even be incorporated into the school day to make sure that the child is making consistent progress.
  • Occupational Therapy: This involves teaching the child how to perform daily activities of living on their own, such as getting dressed, having a bath, or feeding themselves. The therapist will teach them useful exercises that help them improve coordination and control, and may recommend special gadgets to make it easier.
  • Speech Therapy: Children who have trouble speaking and swallowing can benefit from Speech Therapy, as the therapist will teach them articulation techniques, safe swallowing techniques, and exercises to improve strength in the mouth and jaws. This not only helps them communicate better but also ensures that they are ingesting proper nutrition.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This revolutionary form of treatment involves using the patient’s own healthy cells to treat the ones damaged by cerebellar degeneration. The process is safe, easy, and allows patients to go home the very same day.
  • Assistive devices: Thera[ists may recommend mobility devices like leg braces, walkers, or wheelchairs to help children get around more easily.
  • Medication/surgery: There are special medicines that doctors may prescribe to ease muscle stiffness and pain. In addition, surgery can correct significant deformities in the limbs and joints, thus helping children move more comfortably.
  • Yoga: Activities like yoga or stretching, when performed with a trained therapist, can help to alleviate the pain of muscle contractions. 
  • Diet: The doctor may recommend special nutrition for your child to help their muscles grow properly.

Some parents may wish to sign their child up for alternative treatments like herbal medicine or acupuncture. However, always consult your doctor before doing so, as some of these treatments may interfere with the doctor-prescribed therapies.

FAQs

  • Is Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy common?

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy is the second most common subtype of Cerebral Palsy after Spastic Cerebral Palsy. However, it accounts for only 5-6% of cases, as compared to around 75% for Spastic CP.

  • What are the four types of Cerebral Palsy?

The four main types of Cerebral Palsy are Spastic, Dyskinetic, Ataxic, and Mixed.

  • How is Athetoid Cerebral Palsy treated?

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy can be treated through a multi-pronged approach that includes Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and medication.

  • How common is Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy accounts for around 10% of all Cerebral Palsy cases.

  • What causes Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy is caused due to a brain injury sustained before, during, or shortly after birth.

  • What is the difference between chorea and athetosis?

While chorea refers to a continuous, randomly appearing sequence of one or more involuntary movements, athetosis is a slow, continuous writhing movement.

  • What does the word Athetoid mean?

Athetoid is a word used to describe slow, writhing involuntary movements of the limbs, feet, and hands.

  • What is Choreoathetosis?

Choreoathetosis is a movement disorder that causes involuntary movements of both the chorea and the athetosis type. It is usually indicative of an underlying cause.

  • What is the meaning of Athetosis?

Athetosis is a condition in which involuntary writhing movements occur due to abnormal muscle contractions. It impairs gross and fine motor skills as well as speech.

  • How is Athetosis treated?

Athetosis can be treated by regular physical therapy to regain strength in and control over muscles. There are also certain medications that can suppress involuntary movements.

  • Is chorea a tremor?

Both chorea and tremor are types of involuntary movement. However, chorea does not have predictability and rhythmicity, which tremors do.

  • Is Athetosis progressive?

Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive disease, which means that athetosis will not get worse as the child grows older.

  • How do you test for Athetosis?

Signs of athetosis to watch out for include slow, writhing involuntary movements that get worse when the patient attempts to correct their posture or move of their own volition.

Living with Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy can be overwhelming, but treatment and support can go a long way to manage it. As the parent, be sure to constantly monitor your child’s progress and keep your doctor informed of any changes. With early intervention and regular treatment and check-ups, your child can enjoy a functional and pain-free life.

How Can You Prevent Multiple Sclerosis?

preventing-miltiple-sclerosis

It is estimated that around 2.3 million people around the world are living with Multiple Sclerosis. It is a prgressive neurological condition that affects the way nerve signals are transmitted to the rest of the body, which leads to problems with voluntary movement, vision, speech, and cognition. Although there is currently no ultimate cure for Multiple Sclerosis, research continues on MS prevention and steps that people can potentially take to safeguard themselves. Here, we take a closer look at the question of how to prevent Multiple Sclerosis.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. It is an autoimmune demyelinating disease, which means the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues — in this case, the myelin or protective covering around nerve fibers. This leaves scarred tissues or lesions in multiple areas, disrupting electrical impulses throughout the body. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve impulses slow down or even stop, causing neurological problems. The three types of Multiple Sclerosis are Relapsing-Remitting MS, Primary-Progressive MS, and Secondary-Progressive MS. Treatment can manage the symptoms and slow disease progression so that the patient can live an almost normal life. 

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

The initial symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis can be vague and hard to identify. Everyone experiences Multiple Sclerosis differently, and some may get symptoms that others do not get. Some of the tell-tale signs patients should watch out for include:

  • Blurry or double vision
  • Involuntary movement of the eyes
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Weakness in the limbs
  • Numbness in the hands and/or feet
  • Trouble walking
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors
  • Cognitive problems related to memory and attention span
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Bladder and/or bowel control issues

Those who have experienced two or more of the above should get a check-up. Doctors will conduct a variety of tests to identify signs of CNS damage and also rule out other conditions that could be causing the symptoms.

Causes and risk factors for Multiple Sclerosis

Scientists everywhere are continuing the search to understand what causes Multiple Sclerosis and thus potentially find an answer to the question ‘can Multiple Sclerosis be prevented?’ Based on research so far, there are two types of immune cells involved in Multiple Sclerosis, the B cell and the T cell. The T cell becomes activated by an unknown trigger and travels through blood vessels to enter the central nervous system. They then release a variety of molecules that lead to inflammation and nerve damage. B cells can be activated by a type of T cell known as helper T cell, as a result of which they too enter the CNS and release antibodies and proteins that cause CNS damage.

What scientists still do not know is what exactly causes the T cells and B cells to malfunction and attack the nervous system. In general, a combination of genetic and environmental triggers can be held responsible. Some of the risk factors that scientists have identified include:

  • Age: People of any age can get Multiple Sclerosis. However, it is most common in people between 20 and 40 years of age, with the average age of onset being 30 to 33 years.
  • Gender: Women are about twice as likely to get Multiple Sclerosis as men.
  • Genetics: There is a strong genetic component to Multiple Sclerosis, although the exact markers are not yet known. Essentially, if your child, parent, or sibling has Multiple Sclerosis, you have a 10% chance of also having it. And if your identical twin has MS, your chance of having it is about 25%. However, it is important to remember that Multiple Sclerosis is not directly passed from parent to child. Rather, it is a polygenic condition, which means that someone with MS has a combination of genes that contributed to it.
  • Geography: It has been postulated that those getting regular exposure to sunlight are less at risk of MS than those who don’t get much sun. This is because scientists have observed that people have a higher chance of getting MS in temperate climates than in tropical ones.
  • Pollution: Some research suggests that prolonged exposure to air pollution or toxins such as organic solvents can increase one’s risk of getting MS. This is because air pollution can potentially trigger oxidative stress and inflammation.
  • Race: Caucasian people, especially those of Northern European descent, have the highest risk of getting MS. The risk is lowest for those of Asian, African, or Native American descent.
  • Autoimmune conditions: Those who have autoimmune conditions like thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes, or inflammatory bowel disease are at a slightly higher risk of getting Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Viral infections: There are certain infections, such as the human herpes virus-6 (HHV-6) and the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), that have been shown to establish chronic infections and affect the immune system, causing inflammation and myelin degradation. The link between Epstein-Barr and Multiple Sclerosis, in particular, is very strong. EBV can lie dormant in the body for years after a person contracts it, and can affect both B cells and T cells in various ways to trigger myelin degradation.
  • Molecular mimicry: This is a phenomenon by which certain bacteria or viruses that resemble the cells in the brain or the spinal cord can lead to negative immune system reactions. The immune system may wrongly identify the normal myelin sheaths as foreign bodies and work to destroy them. HHV-6 and EBV have proteins that mimic myelin basic protein and can lead to immune system dysfunction.
  • Smoking: Smokers are twice as likely to be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis as non-smokers.
  • Obesity: There is some research to show that having been obese during childhood or adolescence can increase one’s chances of having MS.

How to prevent Multiple Sclerosis

Close relatives of Multiple Sclerosis patients are likely to have questions about how to prevent MS. There is currently no guaranteed treatment that can guard against Multiple Sclerosis. However, there are several lifestyle modifications that can reduce one’s risk of getting it. These include:

  • Getting adequate vitamin D: Vitamin D is a vital contributor to healthy immune system functioning. Studies have shown that people can halve their risk of getting Multiple Sclerosis just by getting some daily sunlight. Doctors recommend that adults, particularly immediate relatives of those with MS, get around 5000 IU of vitamin D3 per day. They can also take vitamin D supplements, as can children. Pregnant women should take vitamin D3 supplements regularly.
  • Eating a diet low in saturated fat: Doctors recommend that Multiple Sclerosis patients eat a mostly plant-based diet that is low in saturated fat. While there is no strong evidence that following the same diet is effective for MS prevention in relatives of patients, it can certainly help prevent multiple chronic conditions and boost overall health. Sharing a diet can also improve overall wellbeing and bonding with the patient, especially for spouses. Choose a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while minimizing processed foods and saturated fats.
  • Exercising regularly: While exercise cannot directly prevent Multiple Sclerosis, it does keep you fit and boost your cardiovascular health and overall wellbeing, which means that your immune system is stronger.
  • Managing your stress levels: Some studies have shown that a reduction in stress levels can lower one’s chance of getting Multiple Sclerosis. There are several ways you can naturally reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation, or massages.
  • Quitting smoking: This is highly recommended to stave off all kinds of serious illnesses and not just MS prevention.
  • Drinking coffee / red wine: Some studies have shown that the risk of Multiple Sclerosis is lower in people who drank over 30 ounces of coffee per day. Another study conducted on mice showed that the compound resveratrol (found in red wine) had anti-inflammatory effects on the brain, which can potentially help restore the myelin sheath. However, too much of either can have other negative health effects, so incorporate these in moderation.

FAQs

  • What vitamins prevent Multiple Sclerosis?

Studies over the years have demonstrated that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D can reduce one’s risk of getting Multiple Sclerosis.

  • What foods prevent MS?

Doctors recommend eating a nutrient-dense diet rich in fruits and vegetables to reduce one’s risk of autoimmune diseases, including Multiple Sclerosis. Green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, berries, and fatty oily fish are particularly recommended.

  • What increases your risk of MS?

Some of the risk factors that doctors have identified for MS include having low levels of vitamin D, having certain autoimmune conditions like type 1 diabetes, being Caucasian, and having a parent or sibling who has MS.

  • Are bananas good for MS?

Bananas are rich in biotin, a type of vitamin B that can help with some of the symptoms in MS patients.

  • What is the best exercise for Multiple Sclerosis?

Therapists recommend that MS patients engage in a mix of strength training, stretching, and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for optimum benefits.

  • Can low vitamin D cause Multiple Sclerosis?

Studies have shown that those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis tend to have lower levels of vitamin D. However, there is no evidence to claim that vitamin D deficiency causes Multiple Sclerosis.

  • Is B12 deficiency a symptom of MS?

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause symptoms that are similar to those of Multiple Sclerosis, including fatigue, numbness, and tingling.

  • Is magnesium good for MS?

Some studies have shown that magnesium plays an important role in developing and stabilizing the myelin sheath, which MS damages.

  • How much vitamin D should I take for Multiple Sclerosis?

For patients with Multiple Sclerosis, doctors recommend taking around 1000-2000 IU of vitamin D per day.

  • Is turmeric good for MS patients?

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it ideal for joint pain management, a common symptom among MS patients.

  • Can you take vitamin C with MS?

There is some evidence to show that taking more than 2000mg of vitamin C may be harmful for patients with MS.

  • Can weather affect MS?

Many Multiple Sclerosis patients feel their symptoms get worse in hot or humid weather, or if it is extremely cold.

In short, there are several complex factors that interact to increase one’s likelihood of Multiple Sclerosis, and research still continues on the exact casualties. While there is no direct way to prevent Multiple Sclerosis, having a solid understanding of the risk factors and potential causal links can help you gauge your likelihood of getting it. Overall, by exercising regularly, spending enough time outdoors, and eating a nutritious diet, you can boost your immunity and reduce your risk of getting all kinds of conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis.

Recreational Therapy for Cerebral Palsy: An Overview

recreational-therapy-for-cerebra

Recreation is an essential part of everyone’s life. It provides a break from the monotony of work and duties, rejuvenates the mind and body, and enhances one’s sense of self. Often, children with conditions like Cerebral Palsy may struggle to engage in recreational activities with their friends on account of their physical limitations. With some adaptations, however, they can pick up almost any activity they like. Here, we offer a brief introduction to how Recreational Therapy can physically and psychologically benefit children with Cerebral Palsy. 

Understanding Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of non-progressive neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and gait. It occurs due to damage to the brain on account of an injury or infection before, during, or shortly after birth. Children with Cerebral Palsy struggle with symptoms like unsteady gait, poor balance, lack of coordination, extreme muscle tone (hypertonia/hypotonia), pain, trouble speaking/swallowing, and cognitive delays. The right treatment for Cerebral Palsy can enable the child to live as normal a life as possible. Stem Cell Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Recreational Therapy are among the elements of a Cerebral Palsy treatment plan.

The benefits of Recreational Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Recreational Therapy is a form of therapeutic treatment that enables individuals to participate in recreation that they like. Recreational therapists work with patients to understand their needs, abilities, limitations, and preferences and thus help them do indoor and outdoor activities that they enjoy in a meaningful way. 

Recreation is a key part of every individual’s life and it is no different for a Cerebral Palsy patient. Recreation not only helps one relax but also allows one to engage with the people and environment around them and feel emotionally fulfilled. Often, children with Cerebral Palsy may feel left out because they cannot participate in the same activities as their peers, be it a sport or an artistic hobby. This can lead to frustration and mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and anger issues. The goal of Recreational Therapy for Cerebral Palsy is to create inclusive ways for patients to do what they love, thus improving their mental health and self-esteem. 

It is important to note that Recreational Therapy helps to enhance a child’s cognitive and physical abilities. This is because they are encouraged to apply themselves and figure out ways to overcome the barriers that prevent them from doing what they enjoy. For instance, they can learn how to play basketball from a wheelchair or use assistive aids to paint or sculpt with clay. By applying themselves to problem-solving and to the challenge of picking up a new activity, children can form critical neurological connections that expand their mental horizons. There is also the physical aspect to it, as children can become stronger, faster, and more flexible by engaging in athletic interests. While Physical Therapy focuses on similar goals, Recreational Therapy makes it more fun for the child, as they are playing a sport they have chosen themselves.

Socially too, Recreational Therapy has considerable benefits. By participating in recreational activities, children with Cerebral Palsy can encounter and form bonds with other children who enjoy doing the same things. This expands their social circle and also goes a long way to mitigate the psychological distress that can come from knowing one is different from one’s peers. They learn to get along well with others, accept themselves for who they are, and have greater confidence about live in general. On the other side, friends and peers who may not have been sure how to interact with a child who has Cerebral Palsy can now bond with them over a mutual interest. It improves empathy on the other child’s part and allows the typically abled and the differently abled to get along like equals.

Overall, the many advantages of Recreational Therapy serve to help children with Cerebral Palsy become well-rounded individuals physically, mentally, and psychologically. 

How to perform Recreational Therapy

There is no fixed age at which Recreational Therapy for Cerebral Palsy needs to begin. Therapists or school teachers may recommend it for the child, or parents who want their child to participate better may initiate the conversation. Recreational Therapy is conducted by a trained Recreational Therapist who has knowledge of subjects like anatomy, kinesiology, first aid and safety, human development, group dynamics, physiology, and psychology.

Before commencing, the recreational therapist will interact with the child and determine their interest areas and dreams as well as their abilities, limitations, and needs. They will also talk to the child’s healthcare team, who can provide recommendations on any modifications or assistive devices that may be necessary for the child to perform the activity safely. Recreational Therapy can take place in a clinic setting, the home, a recreational facility, or the outdoors, depending on the nature of the activity and what the child prefers. The child may enrol in classes along with typically abled people, or in classes specially designed for those with similar impairments. The latter is especially advisable for sporting activities, as there are special modified versions of sports like basketball or football with their own rules. 

The types of Recreational Therapy that the therapist recommends will depend on the child’s age. Very young children can be introduced to easy games, playground activities, fun artistic activities like finger painting, and light sports. As they grow older, the therapist can include them in more complex activities like organised sports and group hobbies such as a musical band or theater group. As the child enters adolescence, they will start to express stronger preferences and pick a few sports and activities that they like best. They may also express an interest to join talent shows and competitions. This is also when the patient may apply their creativity and find newer and better ways to work through their physical limitations and excel at their interests. The more they apply themselves and accomplish things, the more empowered and validated they will feel.

A Recreational Therapy program consists of activity-based interventions that focus on adaptation, communication, creative thinking, and functional performance in the activities of the child’s choice. Therapists will tailor the program to each child and modify it depending on the child’s progress and preferences. There are several considerations that the therapist will take into account before implementing a Recreational Therapy plan, including:

  • What the child’s physical abilities are and now these may enhance/impede an activity
  • Whether any assistive equipment or activity modifications are necessary
  • Whether the child needs extra social skills coaching to join group activities
  • What positive support mechanisms can be introduced
  • Whether the activities are fully in line with the child’s interests and ambitions

How to motivate Cerebral Palsy patients during Recreational Therapy

Particularly at the beginning, a child with Cerebral Palsy may have mental roadblocks about taking up a Recreational Therapy activity, especially if they have been convinced so far that their physical limitations make it impossible for them to do it. Therapists need to work through these roadblocks and introduce interventions that can show the child new ways of trying something and enhance their faith  in themselves. Examples of intervention activities include:

  • Wellness programs
  • Meditation
  • Biofeedback
  • Cognitive retraining
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Stress management
  • Depression/anxiety counseling
  • One-on-one conversation role-play
  • Small group play activities
  • Physical training for specific activities
  • Community integration

As they continue to learn and experiment, children will gradually become more open to the process and start exploring on their own.

The child’s parents and caregivers also play an important role in Recreational Therapy for Cerebral Palsy. The therapist will advise the parents on how to conduct recreational activities at home or in external settings, including how to maintain any assistive equipment and any signs of pain to watch out for. They may also conduct awareness classes for the other learners in the recreational activity and make suggestions on how to modify the activity setting (such as a gym, classroom, or community center) for safety. It is also important for family members to keep encouraging the child in their pursuits and celebrate every bit of progress they make.

Other treatments for Cerebral Palsy

Recreational Therapy should be part of a comprehensive Cerebral Palsy treatment plan that aims to maximize the child’s abilities and opportunities. Other treatments that doctors will advise in conjunction with Recreational Therapy include:

  • Physical Therapy, comprising guided exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and gross and fine motor skills
  • Occupational Therapy to help the child accomplish daily tasks like eating and bathing on their own
  • Assistive aids like walkers or wheelchairs to help with mobility
  • Speech Therapy to teach correct swallowing techniques and to improve communication and articulation
  • Stem Cell Therapy to heal the body’s damaged cells with its own healthy cells in a clinical setting
  • Surgery to correct any significant physical deformities 

FAQs

  • Why is Recreation Therapy important?

Recreation Therapy helps to maintain their patient’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing by enabling them to engage in activities they enjoy. This helps to reduce stress, improve social interactions, and build confidence. 

  • What do recreational therapists do?

Recreational therapists use a number of interventions related to fine arts, performing arts, and sporting activities to engage children with Cerebral Palsy, based on their interests and inclinations.

  • What are the 5 domains of Recreation Therapy?

The five domains of Recreational Therapy are physical, intellectual, social, spiritual, and emotional.

  • What’s the difference between Occupational Therapy and Recreational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy focuses on helping children with Cerebral Palsy accomplish daily activities, while Recreational Therapy helps children engage in leisure activities.

  • How will recreational activities improve yourself holistically?

Engaging in recreation helps to relax the mind and body. It improves physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing and enhances cognitive skills as well as physical fitness. It also provides an opportunity to socialize with others.

  • What is the therapeutic recreation process?

Therapeutic recreation involves the use of recreational activities by trained therapists to improve the physical and psychological health of those with disabilities or chronic conditions.

  • What is the difference between therapeutic recreation and Recreational Therapy?

Therapeutic recreation is another name for recreational therapy, and involves using recreational activities of the patient’s choice to help them heal physically and emotionally.

  • What are recreational activities?

Recreational activities refer to any activities that people participate in for the purpose of leisure and enjoyment. It can include both outdoor and indoor activities.

  • What is the need for recreational activities?

Recreational activities allow people to manage stress and recover from the daily grind. It also helps them build a stronger sense of self and improves psychological health.

  • What is the most popular recreational activity?

Among the most popular recreational activities include running, walking/hiking, outdoor picnics with loved ones, and visiting the pool.

Living with Cerebral Palsy involves several compromises, but losing out on fun shouldn’t be one of them. Recreational Therapy allows children to pursue their dreams, make new friends, and accept their Cerebral Palsy diagnosis as just a part of their identity and not the whole. Eventually, they grow into happy, whole individuals who can participate confidently in social life right alongside their peers.

Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia: An Introduction

cerebellar-degenerative-ataxia

Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia is a rare inherited condition that leads to progressive problems with voluntary movement. Much is yet to be understood about this rare condition, which is why patients diagnosed with it are often at a loss about where to seek help. Here, we offer a brief guide to what Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia looks like and answer some commonly asked questions about it.

Understanding Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia

Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia is a type of Spinocerebellar Ataxia, which is a genetic disease caused by either a recessive or dominant gene. It refers to a group of ataxias that are known to be hereditary and cause progressive harm to the cerebellum. This part of the brain maintains balance and controls movements. Spinocerebellar Ataxia may result in non-coordinated gait, impaired hand-eye coordination, and abnormal speech. Since this condition affects the nervous system, it is known as a nervous disorder. Treatment in the form of neuro-rehabilitation, as well as Physical and Occupational Therapy, and Stem Cell Therapy can manage the symptoms.

Symptoms of Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia

Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia affects the neurons in the cerebellum, which controls muscle coordination and balance. It can also impact other parts of the central nervous system like the brain stem, cerebral cortex, medulla oblongata, and spinal cord. Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia symptoms, therefore, mostly affect voluntary movements. They typically manifest when the patient is middle-aged, although this can vary. Classic cerebellar degeneration symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Wide-legged, unsteady gait with the trunk moving back and forth
  • Frequent falls
  • Uncoordinated movement in the limbs and/or fingers 
  • Tremors in the limbs
  • General clumsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nystagmus (repetitive, involuntary eye movements)
  • Double vision
  • Slow, slurred speech
  • Difficulties with swallowing 
  • Difficulties with fine motor skills like writing
  • Psychiatric symptoms 
  • Memory and learning problems

As symptoms progress, the patient may lose the ability to walk altogether and require a wheelchair to move around.

Diagnosing Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia

If the patient has been displaying the symptoms listed above, it is essential to get a check-up as soon as possible. The doctor will examine the patient’s movement, muscle tone, gait, and coordination and ask questions about when the symptoms first appeared, how frequently they appear, and what factors appear to improve or worsen the symptoms. They will then conduct some standard tests to eliminate other possible causes of the symptoms before recommending genetic testing. Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia is a genetic condition and can be inherited in an autosomal recessive, autosomal dominant, or X-linked fashion. Particularly if there is a family history of Spinocerebellar Ataxia, therefore, this is a crucial step. The doctor may also conduct other tests like an MRI, lumbar puncture, or CT scan to assess the location and extent of the damage in the brain and central nervous system. This is also useful in case the exact gene responsible for the Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia cannot be identified, which is what happens in a good number of cases.

Treatment for Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia

In general, life expectancy is shorter than normal for those with Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia, although many patients live well into their 50s or even their 60s. Doctors will typically prescribe a treatment plan based on the patient’s symptoms and needs with the goal of slowing down disease progression and enabling more functionality. The components of a Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia treatment program will usually include:

  • Stem Cell Therapy: This revolutionary form of treatment involves using the patient’s own healthy cells to treat the ones damaged by cerebellar degeneration. The process is safe, easy, and allows patients to go home the very same day.
  • Physical Therapy: This is one of the key components of Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia treatment. Physical therapists will teach a variety of exercises to enhance strength, improve flexibility and mobility, enhance coordination, and correct gait. They will also guide the patient through cardiovascular exercises for general fitness.
  • Occupational Therapy: This form of therapy focuses on teaching patients how to accomplish basic tasks like eating and getting dressed on their own, often with the aid of devices like specially made cutlery. The therapist will also provide suggestions on adjustments that can be made around the home for the patient’s safety, such as adding ramps for wheelchair usage and carpeting slippery floors to avoid injuries in the case of a fall. 
  • Assistive devices: As the patient’s motor abilities decline, they will need devices like canes, walkers, and wheelchairs to move around. Therapists can teach the patient how to operate and maintain each of these.
  • Medication: Certain medications can help with specific symptoms of Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia, such as tremors, double vision, slurred speech, or impaired hearing.
  • Speech Therapy: Speech therapists work with patients whose mouth and jaw muscles have been affected by cerebellar degeneration. They teach patients how to chew their food properly, how to swallow, better articulation techniques, and how to control their breathing.
  • Psychiatric Therapy: Cerebellar degeneration frequently impacts the patient’s psychological health, and therapy to deal with depression, anxiety, anger issues, and other conditions may help.

It is also recommended that patients find a local support group that can connect them to important resources, such as information about new drug trials, and also offer emotional companionship with other patients. Caregivers and loved ones of the patient should also seek support and assistance as necessary. In this context, we also mention that parents worried about passing the Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia gene to their children can get tested for it at genetic registries before planning a family.

FAQs

  • How long can you live with Cerebellar Ataxia?

In general, life expectancy is shorter than usual for Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia patients. Many, however, may live into their 50s or even their 60s.

  • What is the best treatment for cerebellar degeneration?

Treatment for cerebellar degeneration focuses on managing symptoms and slowing the rate at which they progress. This includes Stem Cell Therapy, and certain medications that may be used to treat specific symptoms like muscle tremor or vision problems.

  • What vitamin is good for Ataxia?

Studies have shown that Vitamin E supplements can stabilize the neurological symptoms of Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia, especially in the early stages.

  • How quickly does Ataxia progress?

The rate of progress for Ataxia can vary from patient to patient depending on the symptoms and the age of onset. It can take anywhere between several months to several years.

  • Is cerebellar degeneration fatal?

In general, Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia is progressive and ultimately fatal, with most adults not making it past middle age.

  • Does Cerebellar Ataxia get worse?

Cerebellar ataxia is a progressive disease and the symptoms worsen as the neuron degeneration continues.

  • What is the most common cause of Cerebellar Ataxia?

Cerebellar Ataxia occurs due to damage to the cerebellum, which occurs due to inherited gene factors.

  • Is Ataxia considered a disability?

Yes, Ataxia can have a disabling effect on one’s life.

  • Is Ataxia an autoimmune disease?

Ataxia is generally classed as a neurological disease, as it occurs due to damage in the brain and central nervous system.

  • Is Ataxia a symptom of MS?

In serious cases of Multiple Sclerosis, cerebellar degeneration can lead to symptoms like ataxia or tremors.

  • What are the 3 types of Ataxia?

The three types of ataxia are proprioceptive, cerebellar, and vestibular.

While Cerebellar Degenerative Ataxia is a rare and serious condition to live with, the right support can go a long way in enhancing the patient’s quality of life. Patients and their families should read up as much as they can on the condition and ask their healthcare team as many questions as necessary. Above all, they should continue to do the things they love in conjunction with their cerebellar degeneration treatment so that they can enjoy a happy and fulfilling life.

Infantile Autism: An Overview

infantile-autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition that most people associate with young children. But did you know that babies can have Autism too? The signs aren’t always as obvious as for older children, but getting an Infantile Autism diagnosis early on can be crucial for your child’s development. Here, we offer a brief introduction to what Infantile Autism looks like and the signs to watch out for.

Understanding Infantile Autism

Infantile Autism refers to the infancy stage of a case of Autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Children with Autism tend to display significant behavioral and social differences from other children, including speech or language delays and an impaired ability to understand and respond to emotions. Treatment for the condition, in the form of Behavioral Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Social Skills Therapy, and Stem Cell Therapy can help children manage symptoms to where they can function independently and happily.

Infantile Autism isn’t separate from ‘regular’ Autism, as children and adults with Autism were born with the condition and had the symptoms. In fact, many symptoms of Autism are possible to detect in the first year of life, even if they aren’t that noticeable. The phenomenon was first described by psychiatrist Leo Kanner as ‘early infantile autism’ to describe the presence of antisocial behaviors and repetitive interests right from birth in a set of children he was studying. Today, the terms Infantile Autism and Autism are used interchangeably to describe Autism in babies.

Signs of Autism in Infants

Nobody quite knows the exact cause of Infantile Autism yet. Genetics, environmental factors, low birth weight, certain maternal infections, and exposure to toxins are some of the risk factors that could lead to Autism in infants.

Infantile Autism does not affect a baby’s physical appearance, and symptoms related to verbalizing and social behavior tend to emerge when the child is older. Detecting signs of Autism in infants, therefore, can be tough. However, the CDC has laid out some developmental milestones that parents can track their child’s progress against while bearing in mind that every infant is different and some may simply hit some milestones later than others. Here are the signs of Autism in babies to watch out for. 

At 3 months

  • Not following moving objects with their eyes
  • Not making eye contact
  • Not paying attention to new faces

At 7 months

  • Not smiling or laughing
  • Not trying to reach for objects
  • Not cooing or babbling
  • Not showing affection for the parent or caregiver
  • Not responding to games like peek-a-boo
  • Not responding to being held, or going rigid when held

At 12 months

  • Not responding or turning their head when addressed by their name, but may respond to other sounds like a bark
  • Not pointing to objects or pictures
  • Not clapping or waving their hands
  • Has not said their first word yet
  • Not engaging in games like patty-cake
  • Not showing interest in being around siblings or other children

At 18 months

  • Not making any attempt to compensate for delayed speech
  • Not speaking except to repeat what was just said or what they heard on television
  • Having restricted, repetitive interest in games and toys
  • Regression, or loss of developmental milestones they may have picked up before

As the parent, you need to trust your instincts about your baby’s behavior and consult a doctor if you believe you’re seeing early infantile Autism symptoms. In any case, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you get a developmental screening for your infant when they are nine months of age.

Treatment for Infantile Autism

The earlier the intervention, the better the chance of managing the symptoms. Your pediatrician will conduct a variety of tests on your baby to determine the best course of treatment if they do indeed have Infantile Autism. However, they may refrain from giving an official diagnosis until much later, simply because it can be hard to reach anything conclusive until the child is older and is displaying more obvious symptoms.

Once there is a conclusive diagnosis, there are several treatment options for Infantile Autism. These include:

  • Social skills training, to help the child function effectively at school and in social environments
  • Applied Behavior Therapy (ABA), which uses positive reinforcements and rewards to achieve desired behaviors
  • Occupational Therapy, to help the child complete daily tasks like eating or getting dressed
  • Speech Therapy to help the child articulate clearly, speak in proper sentences, and express their needs intelligibly
  • Sensory Integration Therapy to help the child cope with hypersensitivity / hyposensitivity and avoid sensory meltdowns
  • Play Therapy to help the child interact with others, use their imagination, and build cognitive skills through play
  • Stem Cell Therapy, a revolutionary form of treatment in which the patient’s own cells are used to correct neurodevelopmental disorders

The exact composition of the treatment plan will depend on the early infantile Autism symptoms your child is displaying. For example, some children will be completely nonverbal all their lives. In that case, speech therapists will work on teaching them alternative forms of communication through cue cards, sign language, or the use of electronic devices. In addition, remember that the treatment plan can evolve as your child grows older and makes progress across the behavioral spectrum.

It is vital for parents to remember here that infantile Autism is no one’s fault. Many parents may question their parenting decisions if they observe signs of Autism in infants. If you are feeling that way, consider joining Autism support groups where you can meet other parents going through similar experiences. You can also talk to a counselor or therapist to process your feelings and pick up stress management tips. Reading up as much as you can about infantile Autism will help you feel more in control of the diagnosis, treatment, and home care process.

FAQs

  • What is the difference between Autism and Infantile Autism?

Alternative terms by which doctors describe Autism include Autism Disorder and Infantile Autism. The latter is not a separate condition.

  • What are the characteristics of an Autistic baby?

Babies with Autism tend to have difficulty showing expressions and/or affection. They may not respond when their name is called and may either not speak or take unusually long to say their first word. They also have limited eye contact and do not point to objects as neurotypical babies do.

  • What are the levels of Autism?

Today, doctors classify Autism diagnoses into three levels, from Level 1 to Level 3, requiring increasingly high levels of support. 

  • Can a child have signs of Autism but not be Autistic?

Every case of Autism is unique, and one child may have certain symptoms that another child never displays. In addition, there are some symptoms that might look like Autism but actually point to other conditions altogether. Lack of attention, for instance, is something that Autism and ADHD patients have in common.

  • At what age is Autism usually noticed?

In general, conclusive symptoms of Autism become evident when the child is 18 to 24 months of age, although some children may display symptoms as early as 12 months.

  • Can an Autistic child go to normal school?

Children with Autism who have received comprehensive treatment from an early age may eventually pick up the social and behavioral skills they need to transition into regular school.

  • Why is Autism increasing?

Growing awareness about what Autism is and evolution in the diagnostic criteria mean that more people are getting diagnosed with Autism now.

  • Are you born with Autism?

Autism is a condition children are born with and will have their entire lives. 

  • Why is Autism more common in boys?

Certain genetic mutations have been identified as responsible for Autism being passed on to boy children more than girl children. However, often boys are diagnosed more often than girls simply because of cultural or social differences in the way the genders are expected to behave. Being withdrawn or not making eye contact, for instance, could be viewed positively as modesty in girls.

  • Does Autism run in families?

The risk of Autism is certainly higher if one has an immediate family member with the condition, although the exact genetic patterns are not fully known yet.

  • Can two Autistic parents have a normal child?

Studies have shown that children with an autistic parent are nine times as likely to have Autism as those with neurotypical parents. It is perfectly possible, however, for two autistic parents to raise a child if they are on the high-functioning side of the spectrum.

  • Can Autism be detected in the womb?

While there is no way at present to detect infantile Autism in the womb, new studies are showing that children with Autism tend to have faster-developing bodies and brains at the beginning of the second trimester as compared to neurotypical children.

  • Does Autism come from the mother or father?

Studies indicate that fathers pass on more of the genetic mutations responsible for Autism than mothers do. However, this certainly does not mean that the father is ‘responsible’ for the infantile Autism diagnosis.

The idea that your child may have infantile Autism is a worrisome one, and it is normal to be concerned if your baby isn’t developing quite as fast as you’d like. That’s why you should keep monitoring your child’s behavior and consulting the pediatrician about any delays. Even if it isn’t Autism, catching delays early can help to treat other causes that could be responsible. Moreover, if your child indeed has infantile Autism, there are several excellent treatment options that you can opt for to ensure that they grow up functional, independent, and happy. 

Autism and Play Therapy: An Overview

play-therapy-for-autism

If you suspect that your child may have Autism, we recommend that you start looking for therapy options while the diagnosis process goes on. The earlier the intervention, the better your child’s prospects. Studies over the last few decades have shown that play therapy is one of the best ways to impart social and emotional skills to children with Autism. Here, we offer a quick introduction to play therapy for Autism and how it can benefit your child.

Understanding Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. It is a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) that affects brain development and can range from mild to severe in its symptoms. Children with Autism will have difficulty understanding emotions, expressing needs, and communicating with other people. The condition has no cure, but early intervention and treatment can help the child pick up the necessary social and behavioral skills to function effectively in different environments.

The importance of Play Therapy for Autism

While children with Autism may play differently from neurotypical children, play is a key medium through which they express themselves. Play therapy is thus a popular way to teach children with Autism how to connect better with other children and adults. It can show them new ways of playing with their toys, teach them problem-solving skills, and expand their language, communication, social, and emotional skills.

Given that Autism is largely a socio-communication disorder, children with Autism tend to become self-absorbed no matter what activity they are engaged in. Play therapy for Autism lets them explore their feelings and needs while learning how to communicate better with friends, siblings, and parents. It also allows parents to take a more active role in their child’s treatment and even take over as play therapist later on, thus helping to form a stronger parent-child bond.

The basic techniques of play therapy for Autism are quite simple. Essentially, the play therapist offers the child a variety of toys to see what piques their interest. If the child picks up a toy, the therapist might let them play with it for a while before introducing a new toy to see how they react. The toys could be as simple as dolls and trains or be more engaging, such as squeaking toys or bubble-blowing. Therapists will choose toys based on what the child responds best to. As the therapy process continues, the therapist introduces new activities to help the child build reciprocal, imagination, and problem-solving skills. At its core, however, play therapy is designed to be a fun way for children to bond with others.

Types of Play Therapy for Autism

While every child responds to different things, there are some standard techniques of play therapy that have been repeatedly shown to enhance children’s social and emotional skills over time. Here, we discuss some of the popular play therapy techniques for Autism.

  • Floortime: This is one of the most popular Autism play therapy options and can be done at the therapist’s office or at home. Essentially, the therapist or a caregiver sits on the floor to play with the child on the child’s own terms. The adult starts by playing the way the child wants to and then introducing a new element, such as some words or another toy. This way, a back-and-forth conversation can start between the child and the adult with the ultimate aim of helping them focus their thinking and improve their emotional skills. The objective is to build on the child’s own interests to form relationships during the course of play. Research shows that children with Autism who do 25 hours of floortime every week for at least 2 years, show measurably improved overall development.
  • Joint attention symbolic play engagement and regulation (JASPER): This is a therapy program that helps the child focus better on another person and a toy at the same time. By improving their joint attention abilities, children can play with their peers more effectively. Children going for JASPER play therapy may meet their therapist one-on-one for up to 25 hours a week. Some preschools also offer this type of therapy. Over time, children learn how to pretend play, speak more with their peers, and how to expand their range of play with their toys.
  • Integrated Play Groups (IPGs): This form of play therapy for Autism involves neurotypical children and children with Autism playing together so that the latter can learn better social skills. Typically, adults divide the children into groups of three to five each and then set the initial tone for play before letting the children take over. IPGs may meet for up to three hours every week. Studies show that children with Autism who had two 30-minute IPG sessions a week for four months improved their ability to pretend play, interacted better with their peers, and learned to use their toys in a more typical way.

When opting for play therapy for Autism, be sure to pick a therapist who has experience in it. You may even wish to search for therapists who are officially certified in floortime. In addition, do your own research on play therapy autism activities so that you can continue to engage your child at home.

Other treatment options for Autism

Therapists will typically tailor a multi-faceted treatment program for your child that includes various types of therapy in addition to play therapy for Autism. Many of these also combine elements of play, such as the use of toys to explain tasks or gamified ways to approach an activity so as to adjust to it better. Some of the options your child’s doctor might recommend include:

  • Occupational Therapy: This involves helping your child complete daily activities and use everyday objects correctly. The occupational therapist will observe the child and assess their abilities, play skills, response to sensory stimuli, how well they transition to other activities, and so on. Accordingly, they will recommend a set of developmental activities and adaptive strategies focused on completing daily tasks, often with the help of play activities to help the child adjust better.
  • Sensory Integration Therapy: This helps your child with Autism adjust to sensory inputs that overstimulate or understimulate them. By teaching them how to process sensory information correctly, this type of therapy helps to regulate their behavior and teach them better communication skills. Therapists will typically recommend a variety of sensory toys that children can use to self-soothe in case of a sensory meltdown. They can also give you recommendations on how to set up a sensory gym for your child at home.
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): ABA therapy focuses on reinforcing positive behaviors through repetition and reward. It is a highly recommended form of treatment to help children with Autism learn good manners, social skills, independence, and academic skills. Therapists tailor ABA therapy to each child depending on what their skills and personality traits are, with the aim of constantly providing feedback and rewarding good behavior. Some of the types of ABA therapy that your child may benefit from include Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI), Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), Discrete Trial Training (DTT), and Verbal Behavior Intervention (VBI). Starting ABA therapy at an early age has been demonstrated to bring about significant gains in the child’s behavior.
  • Speech Therapy: This form of therapy is designed to help children communicate better through oral articulation. Depending on the child’s symptoms, the therapist can teach them how to understand non-verbal cues, articulation techniques, how to start a conversation and keep it going, how to exchange ideas, how to know when not to interrupt or say inappropriate things, and how to understand the meanings of words in different contexts. For children with more severe verbal challenges, the therapist may include facial massage and exercise techniques to help them form words better. They may also teach non-verbal communication through picture cue-cards or symbols, keeping it as enjoyable for the child as possible.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: Stem cells are progenitor cells that can differentiate into specialized cells and multiply into new ones. Apart from stem cells, no other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types. This is a form of regenerative medicine that utilizes the body’s natural healing mechanism to treat a variety of medical conditions. This form of therapy is designed to repair the damaged cells within the body by reducing inflammation and modulating the immune system.

FAQs

  • Does play therapy help Autistic children?

Play therapy for Autism helps children on the Autism spectrum to realize themselves more fully. It helps them build social, communication, and emotional skills and enhances their ability to play with other children and adults. It can also help parents connect better with their children.

  • How does a child with Autism play?

Children with Autism generally prefer to play alone. They may play with toys differently than neurotypical children, such as lining toys up or repeating the same motion over and over. They may also have obsessive interests with just a few specific toys.

  • What are the three main symptoms of Autism?

Three tell-tale signs of Autism in a child include delays in reaching developmental milestones, difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication, and general awkwardness around other people.

  • How can Autism be improved?

At present, there is no complete cure for Autism. Treatment programs that teach behavioral, social, communication, and emotional skills can significantly improve the child’s ability to adjust in various environments and communicate effectively with others.

  • How is Autism caused?

There is no one causal factor for Autism that doctors can pinpoint. In general, a combination of genetic and environmental factors is held responsible, with risk factors like maternal infections or oxygen deprivation during birth increasing the likelihood of Autism.

  • Is ADHD a form of Autism?

ADHD is not a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, the two have many symptoms in common and may even co-exist in the same child, which makes an exact diagnosis difficult at times.

  • How do you engage Autistic children in play?

When playing with a child with Autism, always sit in front of them so that they can see what you are doing. Then, offer them two or three toys and try to engage with them depending on what they pick. Always encourage the child to lead the play, and reward them when they respond in a way you want them to.

  • What are good activities for Autism?

Children with Autism often enjoy repetitive activities or those centered around specific interests, such as stamp collecting or painting. They may also enjoy sporting activities, especially individual ones like hiking or cycling where they do not need to have social interactions. 

  • How can I help my Autistic child focus?

Try to engage your child in activities that they enjoy as much as possible. Encourage them towards completing whatever task they are doing, and do close-ended activities wherever possible. Always reward them when they do something correctly or focus the way you want them to.

  • How do sensory activities help Autism?

Sensory activities help to stimulate the brain and create neural pathways that help the child process sensory input better. They also help to improve motor skills and enhance communication with peers and adults.

  • What are the best toys for an Autistic child?

There are several toys and games that one can integrate into play therapy for Autism, such as fidget toys, jigsaw puzzles, stacking rings, modeling clay, slime, and building blocks.

  • What is sensory play activity?

Sensory play activity refers to any type of activity that stimulates one or more of the five senses, namely taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound. Sensory play activities encourage your child with Autism to explore the world around them and develop a sense of curiosity while having fun.

  • What are the 3 levels of sensory integration?

Sensory integration focuses on 3 layers of senses, namely tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive. This helps to hone the child’s gross and fine motor skills while teaching them to navigate their environment safely.

Every child loves to play, and healthy playtime is essential to the formation of social, communication, and emotional skills. For children with Autism, play therapy is a critical tool to help them build social skills, understand themselves better, and form relationships with others. Speak to your doctor about the best play therapy techniques for Autism and sign your child up for sessions. They’ll enjoy the experience, and so will you.

Exercises For Spastic Cerebral Palsy: An Overview

exercises-for-spastic-cerebral-p

Spastic Cerebral Palsy inhibits the motor function of the patient, which means they will have stiff, jerky movements, and painful muscle contractures. Fortunately, there are several exercises the patient can perform to improve muscle flexibility and range of motion. This article is a quick introduction to what Spastic Cerebral Palsy is and some of the exercises that therapists recommend for it.

Understanding Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic Cerebral Palsy is a subtype of Cerebral Palsy, which is a group of neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and motor skills, caused by damage or abnormalities in the developing brain. It typically occurs due to injury or infection before, during, or shortly after birth. Spasticity refers to abnormal muscle tightness, which occurs because the damaged part of the brain cannot send messages correctly to the muscles. As a result, the patient’s movements become stiff and jerky and they cannot perform tasks properly. About 77% of all Cerebral Palsy diagnoses are Spastic Cerebral Palsy.

Symptoms of Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic Cerebral Palsy can affect any number of limbs and may range from mild to severe. The early symptoms can be hard to spot, especially in infancy. Typically, parents will notice the symptoms when the child starts missing developmental milestones. Some of the signs to watch out for include:

  • Inability to lift head as a baby
  • Difficulty standing and walking
  • Difficulty changing one’s position in bed
  • Difficulty standing up after sitting and vice versa
  • Inability to fully extend joints
  • Abnormal reflexes
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills such as buttoning a shirt 
  • Scissoring thighs
  • Abnormal posture and gait
  • Slurred speech
  • Hoarse voice
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty eating and swallowing

Exercises for Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic muscles can lead to complications over time, such as muscle degeneration or bone deformities. Commencing treatment early on, therefore, is crucial. There are a number of exercises that focus on stretching and flexibility so that the patient’s range of motion can improve. Some of these include:

  • Calf stretches: Place your hands on a wall and take a long step back so that you are standing with the front knee bent and the back leg stretched out with the heel raised. Slowly lower the heel and hold for 20-30 seconds before repeating with the other leg.
  • Joint rotations: Rotate your ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, wrist, and elbow joints in circular motions, in both directions.
  • Hamstring stretch: Sit on the floor with both legs straight in front of you and lean your body forward. Keep leaning forward up until you feel any discomfort and then hold for about 30 seconds.
  • Arm over chest: Stretch one arm across your body and use the other arm to press it against the chest and hold it in place for about 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  • Shoulder stretch: Raise an arm and bend it behind your head while using the other hand to press against your elbow until you can feel the stretch. Hold it for 20-30 seconds. 
  • Trunk tilts: Lie on your back and rotate your upper body to one side without moving your lower body. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then get back to neutral position. Repeat on the other side.
  • Trunk twists: Rotate your upper body to one side while in a sitting or standing position, and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Your feet should be flat on the floor throughout.

In addition, therapists recommend the following for Spastic Cerebral Palsy patients.

  • Cardiovascular exercises to maintain heart and respiratory health and improve general fitness
  • Strength training to build muscle and improve overall strength
  • Occupational Therapy to learn how to perform daily tasks like eating or getting dressed with appropriate modifications, such as assistive devices

Every case of Spastic Cerebral Palsy is unique, and your therapist will work with you to choose the exercises most suited to your needs and abilities. What is certain, however, is that a regular exercise and fitness regime will help ease spastic muscles and improve gross and fine motor skills while reducing pain levels. The sooner a patient gets a diagnosis and starts treatment, the sooner they can benefit, and the more enjoyable their lives will be.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy: An Overview

ataxic-cerebral-palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive neurological condition that affects voluntary movement. Children with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy struggle with balance as well as motor skills like picking up objects, and difficulties with gait and speech. As one of the less common types of Cerebral Palsy, it’s important to understand exactly what it entails so that your child can get the right treatment. Here, we offer a brief introduction to what Ataxic Cerebral Palsy looks like.

Understanding Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is a subtype of Cerebral Palsy, which refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and motor skills caused by damage or abnormalities in the developing brain. It typically occurs due to injury or infection before, during, or shortly after birth. Around 2.4% of Cerebral Palsy cases are Ataxic Cerebral Palsy. Children with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy experience problems with coordination, balance, and gait owing to damage sustained by the brain’s motor control centers. There is no cure for the condition, but treatment helps in improving control over movements and completing daily tasks more effectively.

Symptoms of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Typically, a case of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy can be diagnosed by the time the child is 2 years old. The symptoms typically manifest as delays in hitting developmental milestones such as rolling over, sitting up, standing, and walking. Other classic symptoms of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy include:

  • Walking with legs unusually far apart
  • Experiencing an unbalanced, jerky gait
  • Trouble balancing
  • Trouble with bringing hands together
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills like writing 
  • Difficulty with visual depth perception
  • Shakiness and tremors
  • Speech difficulties
  • Slow eye movements

Causes and Risk Factors of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy occurs due to damage to the cerebellum at, before, or shortly after birth. The cerebellum is responsible for balance and coordination as well as posture and communication. When the cerebellum is damaged, motor signals cannot be relayed properly to the central nervous system. Damage can occur due to:

  • Head trauma at the time of or shortly after being born
  • Maternal infections during pregnancy
  • Loss of oxygen due to breech birth or placental failure
  • Fetal stroke
  • Placental infections

Diagnosing Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

There is no specific diagnostic test for Ataxic Cerebral Palsy. If a child has been displaying symptoms, the doctor will assess their motor and speech abilities in the clinic and run some general tests before recommending the patient to a specialist. The specialist may conduct a more detailed neurological test along with an MRI scan, a CT scan, electromyography (EMG), or electroencephalography (EEG). This not only checks for signs of brain and/or muscle damage but also eliminates other conditions that could be responsible. 

Treatment for Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

While there is no cure for Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, there are several treatment options the doctor can recommend based on the child’s unique symptoms. Typically, an Ataxic Cerebral Palsy treatment plan will include:

  • Physical Therapy to improve strength and flexibility and to enable gross and fine motor skills
  • Occupational Therapy to help children perform daily tasks like eating and getting dressed and also improve hand-eye coordination
  • Speech Therapy to teach safe swallowing techniques and help children with articulation
  • Massage therapy to ease daily pain
  • Medication to ease severe muscle stiffness and/or pain
  • Assistive devices like leg braces or walkers
  • Surgery to correct bone or joint deformities
  • Special nutrition to encourage growth and fitness
  • Medication to treat co-occurring complications like epilepsy, ADHD, or incontinence

Parents and caregivers will need to help their child perform the exercises at home and ensure that the living space is adjusted as needed for the child’s safety. 

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy can be difficult to live with, but the right treatment plan can do a great deal to help your child pick up the skills they need. Keep monitoring your child’s progress and work with the therapists to adjust the treatment plan as necessary. Above all, give them your unstinted love and patience as you navigate this journey together.

Ataxia Telangiectasia: An Overview

ataxia-telangiectasia

Ataxia Telangiectasia is an inherited neurological condition that causes progressive problems with balance, movement, and walking. Children with Ataxia Telangiectasia will display uncoordinated movements, improper gait, and vision problems. As a rare disease, many people still do not understand exactly what Ataxia Telangiectasia is and why it occurs. We provide here a quick introduction to the same.

Understanding Ataxia Telangiectasia

Ataxia Telangiectasia is a rare hereditary condition that affects primarily the nervous system along with other organ systems. It leads to progressive movement disorders that begin in early childhood and typically lead to the need for a wheelchair by adolescence. Patients with Ataxia Telangiectasia have a weakened immune system and are prone to co-occurring conditions like lung infection and cancer. While there is no cure for Ataxia Telangiectasia, intensive neuro-rehabilitation along with Physical and Occupational Therapy can reduce the rate of disease progression and enhance the patient’s functionality. About 1 in 40,000 – 100,000 people are born with Ataxia Telangiectasia. 

Symptoms of Ataxia Telangiectasia

The movement-related symptoms of Ataxia Telangiectasia usually appear in early childhood before the age of 5. The condition is progressive, which means that symptoms get worse over the years. Typical symptoms include:

  • Difficulty with movement coordination (ataxia)
  • Involuntary jerky movements (chorea)
  • Trouble walking
  • Poor balance
  • Muscle twitches (myoclonus)
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble moving eyes from side to side
  • Small clusters of enlarged blood vessels on the skin and in the eyes (telangiectases)
  • Sensitivity to radiation exposure, including X-rays

In addition, a weakened immune system means that patients are susceptible to conditions like lymphoma, leukemia, and chronic lung infections.

Causes of Ataxia Telangiectasia

Ataxia Telangiectasia occurs due to a mutation in the ATM gene. This gene has an important role in the normal development of the nervous, immune, and other body systems, as it provides instructions for manufacturing a protein that helps to control cell division. When the ATM gene is mutated, the protein cannot be manufactured at the normal rate, which means that cell division becomes unstable and cell death occurs.

There are two specific consequences to this mutation. The cells in the cerebellum (the part of the brain that controls movement) are particularly impacted by the loss of the protein, which contributes directly to the ataxia observed in Ataxia Telangiectasia patients. In addition, the gene mutations inhibit cells from repairing DNA damage, which can cause cancerous tumors to form if the damage accumulates beyond a point.

Ataxia Telangiectasia is passed on in an autosomal recessive pattern, so both copies of the ATM gene in the cells of the patient will feature the mutation. In carrier individuals, one copy of the ATM gene is mutated and the other is normal, so the individual will not display signs of the condition. They are, however, at higher risk of developing cancer or heart disease than non-carrier individuals. 

Diagnosing Ataxia Telangiectasia

As a hereditary condition, Ataxia Telangiectasia can be diagnosed by testing for the ATM gene mutation. Patients who display symptoms should visit a doctor, who can recommend the appropriate genetic testing. An MRI or CT scan can also help identify brain and CNS abnormalities arising from the damage to the nervous system. Doctors can also test for alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a protein that is present in large amounts in the blood of patients with Ataxia Telangiectasia. 

Treatment for Ataxia Telangiectasia

Ataxia Telangiectasia has no cure and is a progressive illness, which means that the life expectancy is much shorter than normal. Treatment can help to manage the symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life. A typical treatment program will include:

  • Stem Cell Therapy to help address faulty cell division and growth
  • Physical Therapy to target ataxia, balance problems, and muscle tremors
  • Occupational Therapy to manage daily activities independently
  • Speech Therapy to address slurring and other speech difficulties
  • Assistive devices like walkers or wheelchairs for greater mobility
  • Medication to treat cancers or infections that may occur from having a weakened immune system

Moreover, for parents worried about passing on a genetic condition to a child, there are genetic registries where they can get tested to see if they are a carrier for Ataxia Telangiectasia. With proper family planning, its occurrence can be prevented.

A diagnosis of Ataxia Telangiectasia can be tough to receive, but having a thorough understanding of how and why it presents can help devise a better approach to treating it. With appropriate care and medical intervention, the patient can enjoy a pain-free and effective life.

Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome: What Is It?

parkinsons-plus-syndrome

Most people are familiar with Parkinson’s Disease, but not that many know about its ‘cousin’, Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome. While the two share many symptoms, the causes are entirely different and disease progression happens differently. It is essential, therefore, for patients with Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome to get a correct diagnosis early on. We provide a quick introduction here to help out.

Understanding Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome

Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome refers to a group of neurological conditions that manifest in a similar fashion to Parkinson’s Disease. They attack the brain cells and nerves and lead to movement disorders, just like Parkinson’s. There are several conditions that are categorized as Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome, some of which include Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), and Corticobasal Ganglionic Degeneration (CBGD). The cause of Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome is unknown, with a combination of genetic and environmental factors usually held responsible.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome&lt

In general, the symptoms of Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome mimic those of Parkinson’s Disease, and may include:

  • Tremors in one hand
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Difficulty walking or shuffling gait
  • Stiff muscles 
  • Stiffness in the jaw or reduced facial expressions
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Cramped handwriting 

In addition, each condition classed under Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome has its own set of symptoms by which it can be distinguished. 

Symptoms of MSA:

  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Trouble breathing, especially at night
  • Bladder problems
  • Low blood pressure

Symptoms of PSP:

  • Blurred vision
  • Trouble moving the eyes up and down
  • Depression or other psychological conditions
  • Laughing or crying inappropriately 
  • Behavioral changes

Symptoms of LBD:

  • Reduced awareness of surroundings
  • Difficulty with processing information and following instructions
  • Mood swings
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep disturbances

Symptoms of CBGD:

  • Rapid muscle jerking
  • Trouble with movement on one side
  • Poor concentration
  • Behavioral changes
  • Trouble communicating
  • Loss of coordination (apraxia)
  • Loss of control over one arm 

Diagnosing Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome

There is no specific test for Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome. If a patient has been displaying symptoms, the doctor will take a medical history and assess the patient’s ability to walk, sit, stand, and coordinate movements. In addition, there may be some imaging tests recommended, including an MRI, a PET scan, and a CT scan. All of these will help to detect brain abnormalities unique to each of the conditions. 

Treatment for Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome

In general, there is no cure for Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome. Each condition progresses at its own rate, which means that the doctor will tailor a treatment plan to you depending on how fast your symptoms are moving. You may be asked to take several of the medicines recommended for Parkinson’s Disease, especially those prescribed for tremors and balance problems. In addition, your Parkinson’s Plus treatment plan will typically include:

  • Physical Therapy to strengthen your muscles, improve range of motion, and help you walk safely without falling
  • Occupational Therapy to help you perform daily activities with minimal assistance
  • Speech Therapy to help you swallow safely and speak clearly
  • Stem Cell Therapy is designed to repair the damaged cells within the body by reducing inflammation and modulating the immune system
  • Mobility aids like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs to help you get around
  • Psychological counseling or medication to help cope with depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders

The doctor will also recommend that you eat a nutritious diet and get regular aerobic exercise to maintain a healthy weight and improve your cardiovascular fitness. The healthier you are in general, the better your outlook will be.

In conclusion, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome is tough to receive, but it’s highly treatable with the right intervention. Keep getting check-ups to track how your condition is progressing and let the doctor know how you’re improving so that they can tweak your treatment program as needed. Above all, try to stay positive and do the things you love. You’ll find that you can lead an active, fulfilling life.

Autism and Mental Retardation: Are They the Same?

autism-mental-retardation

It is often assumed, erroneously, that Autism is just another form of Mental Retardation. Nothing could be further from the truth. While Mental Retardation has to do with cognitive functioning, Autism has to do with behavioral and communication abilities and is unrelated to the patient’s intellectual level. Here, we break down the difference between the two conditions so that parents worried about their child’s behavior know what to look out for.

Understanding Autism vs. Mental Retardation

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. It is a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) that impacts brain development and can range from mild to severe in its symptoms. Children with Autism have difficulty understanding emotions, expressing needs, and communicating with other people. IQ level is unaffected by Autism.

Mental Retardation is an outdated term for what doctors today call an intellectual disability. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder in which intellectual and adaptive functioning are considerably reduced. There are four levels of Mental Retardation, namely mild, moderate, severe, and profound, depending on the patient’s IQ level. A lower-than-average IQ level is one of the diagnostic criteria for the condition. Mental Retardation, however, does not necessarily mean an inability to learn. With the right approach, children can learn all the cognitive skills they need to be productive at school and elsewhere.

Similarities between Autism and Mental Retardation

There are certain similarities in the way Autism and Mental Retardation present, which is why the two are often confused.

  • Both are neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Both can occur when there are problems during pregnancy or difficulties during birth
  • Both can lead to delays in verbal communication
  • Both impact the way a child interacts with other people
  • Both can lead to aggressive or self-harming behavior in the child
  • Both can lead to difficulty integrating into work and social environments

Differences between Autism and Mental Retardation

Autism and Mental Retardation are entirely different conditions, which is why the differences considerably outweigh the similarities. We can contrast the two as follows:

  • While most cases of Autism become evident by the time the child is 3 years of age, Mental Retardation may not be evident until the child is in grade school or even older.
  • Children with Autism display average or above-average intellectual ability. Those children with Mental Retardation, however, have IQ levels at least two standard deviations below the average.
  • Children with Autism often have trouble understanding emotions and may thus demonstrate a lack of empathy. Those with Mental Retardation do not have any specific problem with understanding emotions.
  • Autism diagnoses are based on diagnostic criteria relating to behavior and social interaction and are thus more objective. Mental Retardation, however, is diagnosed via intelligence tests, where it has been observed that the tester might give the child a lower score if they are from different cultures.
  • Individuals with milder levels of Autism can learn the skills they need to live and work independently as they grow older. Those with Mental Retardation, however, will require some level of professional support even in mild cases.

Treatment for Autism and Mental Retardation

For both Autism and Mental Retardation, early intervention and therapy is the best way to teach the child the skills they need to thrive. Trained therapists can teach them personal care skills, language skills, communication skills, and problem-solving skills, depending on the extent of their symptoms. Children with Autism will typically require more assistance with behavioral and emotional abilities, while children with Mental Retardation will need more assistance with spoken language, memory, problem solving, and social rules. For severe Autism or Mental Retardation, patients may need significant daily care or even round-the-clock support, which means that the doctor may recommend checking them into a care facility.

In conclusion, Autism and Mental Retardation are unique conditions and need to be treated as such. What is vital for parents to remember is that a diagnosis of either is neither the fault of the parent nor a judgment on the child. With the right treatment as well as enough love and patience at home, the child can pick up the skills they need to live as fruitful a life as possible.

What are the Stages of Muscular Dystrophy?

muscular-dystrophy-different-sta

For a parent to hear that their child has Muscular Dystrophy is a tough moment. Muscular Dystrophy involves the progressive loss of muscle and starts affecting children from an early age. Patients with Muscular Dystrophy will eventually require significant support to perform daily activities, which is why early diagnosis is so important. Here, we provide an introduction to what Muscular Dystrophy looks like and the way in which it progresses.

Understanding Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular Dystrophy refers to a group of conditions that leads to progressive muscle weakness. It occurs due to a defect in the genes that control muscle formation. Each patient will experience the symptoms in their own way, with the first signs arising in infancy or early childhood. The cause of Muscular Dystrophy is a change in the dystrophin gene, which is responsible for making the dystrophin protein that enables muscles to contract and relax without pain. Without enough dystrophin, there is muscle damage and loss of muscle cells. Muscular Dystrophy may be hereditary or arise out of spontaneous random gene mutations. The most common subtype of the condition is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

Stages of Muscular Dystrophy

Doctors most commonly classify the progression of Muscular Dystrophy into three stages. 

Early ambulatory

Stage 1 of Muscular Dystrophy generally occurs when the child is between 2 and 5 years of age. The child may reach developmental milestones like walking or crawling later than other children, complain frequently of aching muscles, and may take a long time to get up from a seated position. Some parents may not even notice the symptoms at this stage. As the child gets closer to 9 years of age, they may develop an unsteady gait or walk on their toes. Some children may also have speech delays.

Late ambulatory

Stage 2 of Muscular Dystrophy occurs during late childhood or early adolescence. By this stage, muscle weakness will start to affect the lower limbs and trunk, making movement difficult for the child. Apart from physical therapy regimes, they will likely require leg braces and later a wheelchair to get around. They will also have an increased tendency to fracture, owing to having weak bones. Another common symptom is scoliosis that develops due to the trunk muscles becoming weaker.

Non-ambulatory

Stage 3 occurs during the late teens and early adulthood, which is when patients gradually lose control of their arms and legs and require motorized wheelchairs to move around. This is also when patients become susceptible to complications like cardiomyopathy, which affects blood circulation and can also cause arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Muscular atrophy can also affect the ribcage, which could lead to pneumonia or respiratory failure.

Treating Muscular Dystrophy

This condition is progressive and has no cure, but early detection and treatment of Muscular Dystrophy can help alleviate the symptoms. It is important to work with a healthcare team and determine the best treatment options for each stage of the condition. Some options that the doctor might recommend include:

  • Stretching exercises to improve range-of-motion and joint flexibility
  • Low-impact exercise like walking or swimming to improve cardiovascular health and general mobility
  • Mobility aids like walkers and wheelchairs to get around safely
  • Braces to keep the tendons and muscles stretched and reduce contractures
  • Breathing assistance such as a sleep apnea device to support weak respiratory muscles
  • Surgery to correct deformities caused by severe contractures
  • Stem Cell Therapy can halt the progression of the disease which can prevent further complications of the disorder

As the patient grows older, they will have to start looking into comprehensive care and making the necessary adjustments in their professional and personal lives. Since complications in the heart, bones, respiratory system, and digestive system are common, getting regular check-ups is vital.

Living a life with Muscular Dystrophy can be hard, but it is highly manageable with the right treatment. It’s important for the patient to have a strong support system and to seek counseling if necessary to cope with the ups and downs. With time, practice, and patience, you can lead an active and socially fulfilling life.

What Is Dystonia? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

all-about-dystonia

Dystonia is a condition in which the patient’s muscles contract painfully and uncontrollably. It may be mild enough to not be noticed at first, but intensifies over time. Here, we offer a quick introduction to what Dystonia looks like, why it occurs, and how patients can manage it.

Understanding Dystonia

Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes muscles to contract uncontrollably. The contracture is generally painful and leads to abnormal gestures or repetitive motions. Dystonia can affect a single muscle, a muscle group, or several muscle groups all over the body. It can affect people of all ages. 

Symptoms of Dystonia

The symptoms of Dystonia can vary depending on the muscles it is affecting. Common symptoms include:

  • Cramping in the foot or hand
  • Pulling in the neck
  • Involuntary blinking or eye movements
  • A ‘dragging’ sensation in the leg
  • Speech difficulties

Pain or exhaustion frequently follow in the aftermath of Dystonia symptoms, while fatigue may exacerbate the symptoms. Patients may also experience depression or social withdrawal because of the stress the disease causes.

Types of Dystonia

One way of classifying Dystonia is on the basis of the parts of the body it affects. Accordingly, there are five types of Dystonia:

  • Generalized – affecting the whole of the body or most of it
  • Hemidystonia – affecting the arm and leg on the same side
  • Segmental – affecting adjacent body parts
  • Focal – affecting just one body part
  • Multifocal – affecting more than one unrelated body part

Doctors also classify Dystonia based on its patterns. Some of them, in fact, can be regarded as syndromes in their own right. These include:

  • Cervical Dystonia (or torticollis) – affecting neck muscles in a manner than causes the head to be pulled backwards and forwards or twisted from side to side
  • Oromandibular Dystonia – affects the lip, tongue, and jaw muscles and leads to trouble speaking and swallowing
  • Cranial Dystonia – affects the face, head, and neck muscles and may flare up during specific tasks, such as playing a wind instrument
  • Blepharospasm – affects the eyes starting with uncontrolled blinking, and ultimately causes the eyes to be almost permanently closed
  • Paroxysmal Dystonia – affects the body only during episodes
  • Spasmodic Dystonia – affects the speech muscles in the throat
  • Torsion Dystonia – a rare disorder that affects the entire body severely
  • Tardive Dystonia – a treatable form of the condition that occurs because of a reaction to some drugs

Causes of Dystonia

Dystonia occurs due to a problem with the way nerve cells communicate in the basal ganglia, which is the part of the brain that initiates muscle contractions. It could be idiopathic in nature, but more often it is acquired from a stroke, a tumor, brain trauma, infection, or conditions like Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease. The doctor will perform a variety of tests and take a complete medical history to determine the exact root cause. Researchers continue to work on identifying genetic mutations that cause Dystonia.

Treatment for Dystonia

Depending on the severity and its underlying cause, there are several Dystonia treatment options available.

  • Physical Therapy, involving a combination of strength and stretching exercises to ease muscle pain and improve range of motion
  • Stem Cell Therapy is designed to repair the damaged cells within the body by reducing inflammation and modulating the immune system
  • Medicine, which is injected directly into the muscles to ease muscle contractions or taken orally to target neurotransmitters in the brain
  • Deep brain stimulation, which involves transmitting electrical impulses to the brain to ease the contractions
  • Speech Therapy, if the Dystonia is affecting the throat, lip, tongue, or jaw muscles
  • Occupational Therapy to help the patient perform daily tasks more effectively, often with the use of aids
  • Selective denervation surgery, which may be recommended to cut off the nerves involved in muscle spasms if other types of treatment haven’t been effective

Dystonia can be painful and uncomfortable to deal with, but it can be managed with appropriate treatment. It’s important to be patient with yourself and take as much time as you need to complete tasks and perform the doctor-prescribed exercises. Over time, you’ll be able to build an active, fulfilling life of your own.

Multiple Sclerosis Vs ALS: A Comparison

Multiple Sclerosis Vs ALS: A Comparison

If you’re experiencing symptoms like muscle spasms, fatigue, and trouble walking, it’s important to get a check-up as soon as possible. You might read online that your symptoms could fit either of two diagnoses – Multiple Sclerosis or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. And while on the surface they do have some features in common, ALS and MS actually are very different. Here, we offer a brief guide on the difference between ALS and MS so that you are well prepared for what to expect.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis and Motor Neuron Disease

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is part of a category of conditions known as Motor Neuron Disease (MND). Motor Neuron Diseases are a group of neurodegenerative disorders that selectively affect motor neurons – cells that control all the voluntary muscles of the body. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The brain of the patient can no longer send messages to the muscles, causing them to weaken and eventually die. ALS is an inherited disease in about 5-10% of patients, and with unknown causes in the remaining cases. There is no cure, although treatment can slow its progression and improve overall functionality.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. It is an autoimmune demyelinating disease, which means the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues — in this case, the myelin or protective covering around nerve fibers. This leaves scarred tissues or lesions in multiple areas, disrupting electrical impulses throughout the body. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve impulses slow down or even stop, causing neurological problems. The cause of Multiple Sclerosis is unknown in most cases, although genetic and environmental factors could play a role. Treatment can slow disease progression and manage symptoms so that patients live an almost normal lifespan. 

Similarities between Multiple Sclerosis and Motor Neuron Disease

When it comes to ALS vs MS, both diseases manifest in a somewhat similar fashion, which is why several people confuse them. Here’s what they have in common:

  • Both are chronic, degenerative conditions
  • Both affect the central nervous system and cause hardening or scarring around the nerve cells
  • Both affect muscles and limbs, thus causing problems with voluntary movement
  • Early symptoms for both conditions include fatigue, muscle spasms, tremors, and trouble walking
  • Diagnosis for both requires similar tests such as an MRI, a spinal tap, and tests of neurological function 
  • The exact cause for MS as well as ALS is unknown in most cases
  • A diagnosis for either condition will typically involve a process of elimination, which means ruling out other diseases that could be responsible for the symptoms
  • Both have no cure, but can be managed through a tailored treatment plan that includes Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Stem Cell Therapy

Difference between ALS and MS

ALS and MS differences far outnumber the similarities. This is because they are completely different conditions, with different origins and different rates of progression. We can discuss the differences as follows.

  • The key difference between ALS and MS is that Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune condition, while ALS is a neurodegenerative condition.
  • In Multiple Sclerosis, the disease affects the myelin sheaths in the central nervous system, thus disrupting the transmission of signals of the body. However, in ALS, the actual nerve cells are affected, which causes movement problems.
  • Multiple Sclerosis is not a hereditary disease. About 5% to 10% of ALS cases, however, are inherited.
  • MS mostly affects patients between the ages of 20 and 40, while ALS mostly affects those between the ages of 40 and 70. 
  • Multiple Sclerosis is a more common condition than ALS, which is classified as a rare disease.
  • MS occurs most commonly in women, whereas people of all genders can get ALS although the likelihood is slightly higher for men.
  • In addition to movement related symptoms, Multiple Sclerosis affects bladder control and cognitive ability, as well as the senses of sight, touch, and smell. AlS, however, causes only movement disorders, including problems with voluntary actions like breathing or eating.
  • The symptoms of MS tend to come and go in patterns of relapse and recovery. With ALS, the symptoms progressively worsen over time.
  • As Multiple Sclerosis progresses, cognitive decline is one of the key symptoms. It does not, however, appear in ALS.
  • Late-stage Multiple Sclerosis is rarely fatal in itself, although death can occur from related complications like breathing trouble or infected bedsores. Late-stage ALS, on the other hand, is highly debilitating and ultimately fatal, most often because of respiratory failure. 
  • Patients with Multiple Sclerosis tend to live an almost normal lifespan. Those with ALS usually survive five to 10 years after diagnosis, although some go on to live much longer.

FAQs

What are usually the first signs of ALS?

People with ALS may initially notice symptoms like muscle twitches or cramps, weakness in one arm or leg, or slurred speech.

Is MS more common than ALS?

ALS is regarded as a rare disease, with fewer than 20000 cases currently known. By contrast, about 2.5 million people worldwide are currently known to be living with Multiple Sclerosis.

Is MS linked to ALS?

Some research indicates that relatives of people with Multiple Sclerosis were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with ALS. This could indicate commonalities between the diseases, particularly given that both have an environmental and genetic component to them.

What does ALS feel like in the legs?

Characteristic symptoms of ALS include weakness, muscle cramps, or spasticity in the legs.

Can ALS be mistaken for MS?

It often happens that ALS is mistaken for Multiple Sclerosis, owing to the similarity in symptoms such as scarring around the nerve fibers, fatigue, muscle spasms, and trouble walking.

Can you have ALS and MS at the same time?

It is possible for a patient to have both ALS and MS, but it is extremely rare. 

Is tingling a symptom of ALS?

ALS does not cause symptoms like numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation.

How do I know I have ALS?

If you observe symptoms in yourself such as muscle weakness, slow or slurred speech, muscle twitches or muscle tightness, it may be a good idea to get a check up for ALS.

Is ALS always fatal?

ALS is a progressive disease and most patients survive two to five after the diagnosis. However, some may go on to live for decades after the diagnosis, such as the famous British physicist Stephen Hawking.

What part of the body does ALS affect first?

ALS tends to start in the limbs, feet, or hands before spreading to the rest of the body.

How fast is ALS progression?

While the individual rate of progression may differ, the median survival after diagnosis of ALS is about 5 years.

How fast do you lose weight with ALS?

ALS patients may lose up to 10% of their body weight in the first year after diagnosis. This is mainly on account of muscle wastage, as well as dysphagia (trouble swallowing). 

What is the most aggressive form of ALS?

The most aggressive type of ALS is bulbar ALS, which attacks the muscles used in swallowing, speaking, and breathing and is typically fatal within months.

What is the average lifespan of a person with ALS?

On average, a person can survive about two to five years after the ALS diagnosis, although many may go on to live for decades.

In short, if you find yourself asking ‘what is the difference between ALS and MS’, know that they are completely different conditions that require their own treatment approach. Living with either can be tough, but early diagnosis, a tailored treatment program, and the support of your loved ones will go a long way in helping you navigate the condition.

Screening and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Overview

Screening and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Overview

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition that presents as a variety of social and behavioral challenges. While there is no specific Autism screening test available yet, early intervention is key to understanding your child’s symptoms and determining the kind of treatment needed. Here, we examine how doctors conduct the screening and diagnosis of Autism in young children, with a view to identifying it as early as possible.

Understanding Autism

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Children with Autism frequently have trouble communicating with others and adjusting to social situations, and may also have sensory processing disorders. The causes behind Autism are unknown in most cases, with a combination of genetic factors and poor health during pregnancy usually held responsible. Early detection through Autism screening enables maximum benefit for the patient through tailored intervention.

Types of Autism

As a spectrum disorder, Autism can present in various ways. There are also other neurodevelopmental disorders that can mimic the symptoms of Autism. Understanding the various types of Autism will help you understand the Autism screening process better and even ask for specific tests for your child as needed. The important types of ASD and related disorders include:

  • Asperger’s Syndrome: This refers to a milder form of Autism wherein the patient displays average or above-average intelligence. While they are frequently advanced in terms of language development, they tend to be uncomfortable keeping up conversations or being in social situations. 
  • Rett Syndrome: This is a rare disorder that mostly affects girls and leads to significant developmental delays. Children may experience communication challenges as well as the loss of standard movement, and even breathing trouble in some cases. However, scientists have now proven it to be a genetic disorder, and as such is considered separate from the Autism spectrum.
  • Kanner’s Syndrome: This is also known as infantile Autism. Children may appear as alert and intelligent as anyone else, but will have trouble regulating emotions, communication challenges, an obsession with handling objects, and a considerable rote memory along with difficulties learning through other ways.
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder: This is the most severe form of Autism, in which children rapidly lose language, social, behavioral and other skills between the ages of two and four, even if they had acquired those skills earlier. They may also be susceptible to seizures.
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS): This refers to a type of Autism where the symptoms are more severe than in patients with Asperger’s, but less severe than those on the other end of the spectrum.

Most specialists today prefer to not use such classifications and to simply diagnose the patient with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Levels of Autism

Children with Autism think and learn very differently from their neurotypical peers. While some can function more or less independently as they receive treatment, others will require extensive support all their lives. Depending on the severity of symptoms, Autism Spectrum Disorder is classed into 3 levels by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). 

  • Level 1: At this level, patients require the least amount of support. They may have trouble maintaining conversations or responding appropriately when others speak. They may also have difficulty adjusting to new environments or changes in routine. They will, however, have no language delays and may in fact have above-average intelligence. 
  • Level 2: People with Level 2 Autism will have significant social challenges and tend to require more support. They may have trouble understanding non-verbal communication, speak in brief answers, and only talk about specific things they are interested in. They will also have trouble with daily functioning and coping with change.
  • Level 3: This is the level at which patients require the most extensive support, usually round-the-clock. They will face significant difficulty getting along with others or adjusting to changes, and may demonstrate repetitive behaviors over and over regardless of where they are or what the situation is. They may also have frequent meltdowns, especially if there is a change to their routine.

Symptoms of Autism

Because there are no obvious physical delays in aspects like crawling or sitting up, the early symptoms of Autism may go unnoticed for a long time. Parents may assume that their child is simply shy, or hyperactive, if they do not talk or behave as expected. Children with Autism will typically display some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Not responding when their name is called
  • Not demonstrating facial expressions or understanding expressions
  • Showing little or no interest in talking
  • Delayed speech and language skills
  • Not showing affection to caregivers or even responding to affection 
  • Playing with toys the same way over and over
  • Obsessing with only a few specific toys
  • Not wanting to play with other children
  • Not wanting to share toys or take turns in games
  • Getting upset with even slight changes in routine
  • Getting upset by certain tastes, sounds, or smells
  • Unconventional eating or sleeping patterns
  • Impulsive, reckless behavior

What to do when you suspect Autism

Early intervention is critical to give your child with Autism the best possible chance at an independent life. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children are given developmental screening at 9, 18, and 30 months of age. Extra screening may be required in case your child has a greater risk of developmental problems because of low birthweight, preterm birth or exposure to toxins like heavy metal. 

There is no single medical test to determine the presence of Autism, which is why Autism screening is often a long and complicated process. If your child has been missing developmental milestones or demonstrating the symptoms of Autism, it is essential to consult your pediatrician at once. The pediatrician will monitor your child closely in the clinic setting and even talk or play with them directly to assess their social and behavioral skills.

If the doctor suspects the presence of Autism, they may conduct a formal developmental screening. This type of Autism Spectrum Disorder screening involves answering a questionnaire about the child’s behaviors, emotions, communication, and social skills. If this too presents concern areas, the doctor will recommend you to a specialist, such as a child psychologist, who will conduct a form of Autism screening test known as developmental evaluation. The doctor may use one or more of several structured tests, including observation as well as questionnaires, to determine what the child’s developmental needs are. They may also test the child directly by setting them tasks that evaluate their thinking and decision-making skills. In addition, the specialist will test for any co-occurring conditions that often show up with Autism, such as ADHD, anxiety, or depression.

Diagnosis and treatment of Autism

In general, a diagnosis received when the child is between 18 and 24 months of age can be deemed accurate, as most symptoms will have fully presented by then. However, for those with milder forms of Autism, a diagnosis may not happen until they reach adolescence or even adulthood. Treatment will be tailored to the patient’s symptoms and may include Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, Social Skills Therapy, and so on. Co-occurring conditions will also require their own treatment. 

In adults who are newly diagnosed with Autism, treatment will usually focus on the social and behavioral skills they need to fit better into college or the workplace. They may also receive therapy for emotional regulation so that they can maintain relationships better. It can be overwhelming for an adult to hear for the first time that they have Autism. Counseling can help them come to terms with the diagnosis and seek appropriate forms of intervention.

FAQs

What are the five Autism Spectrum Disorders?

The five major types of Autism according to the old classification system include Rett Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome, Kanner’s Syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder.

Can Autism be screened during pregnancy?

There is some evidence to show that the brains of infants with Autism may show differences from neurotypical brains during the second trimester of pregnancy. However, in general, prenatal testing is not a reliable way of knowing whether your child will have Autism or not.

Can you be slightly Autistic?

While there is no such thing as being ‘slightly’ or ‘a little’ autistic, many people have a fairly mild version of Autism that involves fewer symptoms. Such people may simply come off as quiet or shy around others, and may avoid certain sensory triggers like bright flashing lights.

Is Level 2 Autism bad?

Level 2 Autism is in the mid-range of the spectrum. Patients will require fairly substantial support and have obvious symptoms such as highly restricted behaviors or difficulties with communicating verbally.

What is hand flapping?

Hand flapping is one among a set of repetitive behaviors that children with Autism might demonstrate. It manifests as the child moving their arm from the elbow upward, with the hand flipping back and forth at the wrist. 

Is Autism a disability?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is classed as a developmental disability. Given that every person’s experience of it is unique, their disability needs will also differ widely.

What are the three main symptoms of Autism in adults?

The key symptoms of Autism in adults include difficulty keeping up a conversation, difficulty understanding non-verbal cues like gestures, and trouble regulating or showing their emotions.

What does hand stimming look like?

Hand stimming involves hand and finger mannerisms such as flapping or finger flicking. It involves any movement that the patient does over and over, usually at a rapid pace.

What is twirling in Autism?

Twirling is a form of stimming in which the person with Autism keeps going round and round, often for extended periods of time and without awareness of their immediate environment.

At what age is hand flapping a concern?

Many young children may flap their hands during the early phase of development. If they continue to do it after three years of age, however, it is of greater concern and could indicate an underlying condition like Autism.

What is hand leading in Autism?

Many children with Autism use hand leading to interact or communicate with other people. It often happens as a result of speech and language delays.

What does scripting mean in Autism?

Scripting refers to the repetition of words or phrases as said by the other person or by someone on television. Many children with Autism will simply repeat back what they heard when spoken to, rather than giving a suitable answer.

In conclusion, the earlier a child undergoes Autism Spectrum Disorder screening, the sooner they can receive a diagnosis and commence treatment. As a parent, therefore, it is important to carefully monitor your child’s development and promptly consult your pediatrician about any delays you may notice.

What’s the Difference Between Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome?

What's the Difference Between Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome?

If your child has received a diagnosis of either Cerebral Palsy or Down Syndrome, it can be a defining moment for you and them. Both conditions come with lifelong challenges, including physical disabilities and trouble adjusting socially and emotionally, which is why early intervention is so important. Often, people may confuse Cerebral Palsy with Down Syndrome in children, but the two are completely different. Here, we compare the two in detail. 

Understanding Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome

Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and motor skills caused by damage or abnormalities in the developing brain. It is a non-progressive condition that occurs due to brain damage sustained before, during, or shortly after childbirth. While primarily a physical disorder, it can lead to cognitive problems in severe cases. Treatment can manage the symptoms and enable greater functionality and independence.

Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes both physical and intellectual symptoms. It occurs due to the presence of an extra chromosome 21 as a result of poor chromosomal division, which is why another name for the condition is Trisomy 21. Patients with Down Syndrome have a characteristic physical appearance, some degree of intellectual weakness, and some co-conditions such as trouble breathing. Down Syndrome has no cure, but it is highly manageable with the right treatment.

Similarities between Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome

Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome have certain features in common, which we can discuss as follows:

  • Both Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome are non-progressive conditions, which means the symptoms do not get worse over time
  • Both conditions are classified as ‘syndromes’, as they involve a range of symptoms and complications
  • Both involve some degree of intellectual disability
  • Children with either condition will typically miss development milestones or reach them much later than usual
  • Both can cause eye diseases as a complication
  • Both are incurable but can benefit from early detection and treatment to manage the symptoms
  • Patients with either of the two are likely to face lifelong difficulties related to mental health, social inclusion, and discrimination

Difference between Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome

As completely separate conditions, Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome have many points of distinction. In fact, it is possible for a child to have both conditions at the same time. Here, we break down the difference between the two.

  • Cerebral Palsy is a neurological condition that occurs due to trauma sustained by the brain during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Down Syndrome, however, is a genetic ailment that occurs when a child has an extra copy of chromosome 21, leading to physical and intellectual defects.
  • The cause of Cerebral Palsy generally relates to factors like maternal infections, difficulties during childbirth, lack of oxygen to the brain during pregnancy or childbirth, and so on. Down Syndrome occurs when faulty chromosomal division leads to an extra copy of chromosome 21.
  • There are currently no known signs of Cerebral Palsy that can be detected during pregnancy. As a genetic disease, however, Down Syndrome is relatively easy to check for during pregnancy. 
  • The diagnosis for Cerebral Palsy involves several physical, neurological, and observational tests, and as such can take months or even years to confirm. On the other hand, the diagnosis for Down Syndrome is fairly straightforward, and doctors can confirm it via a blood test known as karyotype that confirms the presence of an extra chromosome 21. 
  • The symptoms of Cerebral Palsy include poor muscle tone that can lead to unnatural contractures or floppy limbs, although facial features are usually not affected. The physical Down Syndrome symptoms relate more to features, such as flattened face and small hands, although poor muscle tone may also be present.
  • As a movement disorder, patients with Cerebral Palsy may have significant difficulty with gross and fine motor skills, posture, and gait. Those with Down Syndrome will typically not have trouble with movement.
  • Only about 50% of patients with Cerebral Palsy will have intellectual disabilities. By contrast, everyone who has Down Syndrome has a lower IQ than normal and will demonstrate intellectual disabilities to some extent. 
  • The life expectancy for patients with Cerebral Palsy is varied, and many patients will go on to live a long and complete life. For Down Syndrome, however, the average life expectancy is about 60 years.

FAQs

Is Cerebral Palsy a syndrome?

Cerebral Palsy involves ataxia, spasticity, and/or problems with involuntary movements, and is thus classed as a syndrome rather than a specific disorder.

How is a Down Syndrome brain different?

Studies have demonstrated that people with Down Syndrome have smaller brains overall, with higher volumes of subcortical gray matter and smaller cerebellar volumes.

Why do all Down Syndrome look the same?

Patients with Down Syndrome are born with an extra chromosome that affects the growth of the skull and the cranial neural nest. They thus share certain characteristic features like almond-shaped eyes and a flattened face.

What causes Cerebral Palsy during pregnancy?

Cerebral Palsy can be caused due to brain damage incurred during pregnancy, as a result of reduced oxygen supply or certain maternal infections. 

Why can parents that do not have Down Syndrome, have a child with Down syndrome?

A child of healthy parents with the correct number of genes may still end up with what is known as translocation Down Syndrome. This can happen if the parents have some of their genes located on a different chromosome than usual. 

Does folic acid prevent Down Syndrome?

Studies have shown that consuming folic acid during early pregnancy can help prevent several defects and conditions in the child, including Down Syndrome.

Can 2 Down syndrome have a normal baby?

A woman with Down Syndrome has a 50% chance of conceiving a baby with Down Syndrome. Most men with Down Syndrome are unable to father children.

What is the oldest Down Syndrome person?

Georgie Wildgust, a former ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ participant with Down Syndrome, recently celebrated his 78th birthday. 

Can a child have Down Syndrome and not look like it?

In a rare variant of the condition known as Mosaic Down Syndrome, children will have the symptoms of the condition without physically resembling someone who has Down Syndrome,

Is Cerebral Palsy genetic or hereditary?

Studies have shown that there are certain genetic and hereditary factors that can predispose someone to Cerebral Palsy. However, most of the time, Cerebral Palsy occurs because of an injury or infection sustained at or just after birth.

Can you see Cerebral Palsy on an ultrasound?

An ultrasound can help to detect brain abnormalities that are typical in patients with Cerebral Palsy. However, this alone cannot make a diagnosis.

How do you test for palsy?

Typically, doctors will recommend a variety of tests to detect Cerebral Palsy, including a CT scan, metabolic testing, genetic testing, an EEG, or others.

Can you pass down Cerebral Palsy?

Neither men nor women with Cerebral Palsy will pass down the condition to their child, as it is not a hereditary condition.

What is the average lifespan of a person with Cerebral Palsy?

In general, patients with Cerebral Palsy can be expected to live between 30 to 70 years of age depending on the severity of their symptoms. Many, however, go on to live longer. 

In conclusion, Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome are both conditions that will have a lifelong impact on your child, though in widely different ways. What is important to remember is that treatment can significantly alleviate the symptoms of both, especially when started early. This, combined with love and patience from your end, will ensure that your child has an enjoyable, safe, and fulfilling life. 

Mixed Cerebral Palsy: An Overview

Mixed Cerebral Palsy: An Overview

Every parent’s greatest wish is to have a happy and healthy child, free from disease or pain. Watching their children struggle with painful joint contractures or impaired swallowing is a tough ordeal. Mixed Cerebral Palsy is a lifelong diagnosis, but treatment options are improving every day and your child can enjoy a high degree of functionality and independence with early intervention. Here, we delve deeper into what mixed type Cerebral Palsy looks like and the treatments available for it.

Understanding Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and motor skills caused by damage or abnormalities in the developing brain. It is a non-progressive condition that occurs due to brain damage sustained before, during, or shortly after childbirth. The four unique types of Cerebral Palsy (apart from mixed CP) are Spastic CP, Ataxic CP, Hypotonic CP, and Athetoid CP. Cerebral Palsy has no ultimate cure, but tailored treatment programs can manage the symptoms to a considerable extent. 

In Mixed Cerebral Palsy, the patient exhibits symptoms of more than one of the above four types. It accounts for around 15.4% of all Cerebral Palsy cases, making it the second most common type of Cerebral Palsy. In patients with mixed type Cerebral Palsy, there is damage to multiple motor control centers in the brain. The symptoms will depend on where exactly the damage has been sustained.

How Mixed Cerebral Palsy occurs

In children with Mixed Cerebral Palsy, there occurs brain damage that affects multiple control centers of the brain. Depending on where the damage occurred and to what degree, there will be abnormalities in the way the child develops. In general, the types of brain damage that someone with mixed CP may have include:

  • Damage to the motor cortex: The motor cortex transmits signals to other parts of the brain that are responsible for motor function. Damage to the motor cortex is linked with Spastic Cerebral Palsy, and can cause muscle and joint spasticity.
  • Damage to pyramidal tracts: This type of brain damage is also associated with Spastic Cerebral Palsy, and disrupts the motor cortex’s ability to properly send signals to the pyramidal tracts. Children may experience a variety of mobility issues, including exaggerated muscle tone and trouble walking.
  • Damage to the cerebellum: The cerebellum is located at the bottom of the brain, close to the brainstem. Damage to the cerebellum is linked with Ataxic or Athetoid types of Cerebral Palsy. Children may experience trouble with fine motor skills, posture, and gait.
  • Damage to basal ganglia: This is a group of multiple neurons located in the center of the brain. It processes signals from the motor cortex before sending them on to the brainstem. Damage to the basal ganglia is typically linked to Athetoid Cerebral Palsy. Children may experience issues like fluctuating muscle tone, lack of control over voluntary muscle movement, and problems with involuntary muscle movement.

Symptoms of Mixed Cerebral Palsy

The symptoms of mixed type Cerebral Palsy depend on which areas of the brain have sustained damage, and as such, each child will have a unique form of the condition. Children will typically exhibit a mix of the symptoms of two or more types of CP. General symptoms include:

  • Abnormal reflexes
  • Exaggerated muscle tone
  • Jerky / floppy movements
  • Tremors in the limbs
  • Poor posture and/or gait
  • Lack of coordination
  • Muscle pain
  • Missing key developmental milestones

Depending on the extent of the brain damage, mixed Cerebral Palsy may exhibit in either the upper or lower limbs, along one side of the body, or in all four limbs. 

Causes and risk factors for Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Mixed Cerebral Palsy occurs due to brain damage during pregnancy or at birth. Factors that can cause brain damage of this type include:

  • Lack of oxygen at birth
  • Infections sustained at or shortly after birth
  • Severe jaundice shortly after birth
  • Stroke at birth
  • Certain maternal infections
  • Head injury sustained in the first months of life
  • Exposure to toxins such as methylmercury
  • Placental infection or failure

In some cases, the brain damage could be owing to medical negligence on the attending doctor’s part. If parents can prove that this was the case, they can potentially sue the doctor for medical malpractice.

Diagnosing Mixed Cerebral Palsy

It is generally recommended that your child undergoes a developmental screening at 9, 18, and 24 months of age. If your young child has been demonstrating the symptoms of mixed CP, it is important to consult the pediatrician as soon as possible. The pediatrician will closely examine your child and ask you questions about their medical history – when the symptoms first began, how frequently they occur, how mild or severe they are, and so on. You will also need to mention any important developmental milestones they have missed.

If the pediatrician has reason to suspect mixed CP, they will recommend you to a team of specialists. This team will typically include a neurologist, a geneticist, a developmental behavior specialist, and an orthopedic surgeon. The neurologist, in particular, will assess your child for signs of brain damage and use a variety of tests to evaluate their reflexes, posture, muscle tone, gait, and coordination. 

Quite often, the symptoms of mixed tone Cerebral Palsy may mimic other movement or neurological conditions. Getting a final verdict, therefore, may take up to months or even a few years. While this wait can be challenging for parents, it is essential to exercise patience, as an accurate diagnosis is crucial for determining the course of treatment.

Treatment for Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Treatment for mixed type Cerebral Palsy involves therapy options to manage the pain and ensure as much mobility and independence as possible. The doctor will work with your family to design a tailored treatment program depending on your child’s exact symptoms. The typical components of a program for mixed CP include:

  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapists use a variety of flexibility and strength training exercises along with massage therapy to reduce muscle pain and improve limb and joint mobility. Early intervention through Physical Therapy helps to avoid the risk of limb deformities later. Physical Therapy also focuses on encouraging children to be active and play so as to maintain a healthy body overall.
  • Occupational Therapy: The goal of Occupational Therapy is to help your child gain as much functionality as possible, especially with everyday tasks and skills that require bilateral coordination and motor control. The therapist will use a variety of exercises, games, and toys to impart the skills necessary for your child to manage their day independently.
  • Speech and Language Therapy: Children with mixed CP often have trouble speaking and swallowing owing to lack of control over the muscles in their mouth and jaw. Therapists will guide them through safe swallowing practices, articulation exercises, and special breathing exercises to help them speak more clearly and chew their food better. This not only helps with intelligible communication but also ensures that the child is getting enough nutrition.
  • Cognitive Therapy: Some children with mixed Cerebral Palsy will have cognitive issues like learning disorders. Trained therapists will work with your child to teach them their letters and numbers through cue cards, visual learning aids, communicative devices, special games, and other appropriate tools. If your child has neurodevelopmental conditions like ADHD or Autism, special therapists will work on treating those too.
  • Assistive devices: These can help your child communicate better and move around more independently. There are a variety of options depending on the extent of the symptoms, from crutches and walkers to motorized wheelchairs and handheld communication devices.
  • Surgery: Children with severe symptoms may benefit from surgery to correct especially painful contractures or floppy joints, or to prevent further deformities or dislocations later on. This will help them benefit better from Physical Therapy too. Consult your orthopedic surgeon for the best options for your child. In addition, surgery can correct complications associated with Cerebral Palsy, such as hearing impairments or vision problems.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This is a relatively new form of treatment for mixed type Cerebral Palsy. It involves drawing stem cells from within the patient’s body (autologous) and using them to replace damaged brain cells. Studies continue on its applications, and it can potentially be a cure for Cerebral Palsy someday.

FAQs

What are three early signs of Cerebral Palsy?

Some of the early symptoms of Cerebral Palsy include abnormal muscle tone, unusual gait, and delays in reaching developmental milestones like rolling over or crawling.

What is the mildest form of Cerebral Palsy?

In certain cases, the brain damage sustained by the child is mild enough that the symptoms do not become apparent until the child is much older, when motor disabilities become visible. Children with mild Cerebral Palsy can usually get by with milder forms of treatment.

What is Ataxic Cerebral Palsy?

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is a type of Cerebral Palsy caused due to damage to the cerebellum. Children with ataxic Cerebral Palsy will have trouble with balance and coordination, as well as with fine motor skills.

What does Cerebral Palsy look like in babies?

Some of the Cerebral Palsy symptoms that parents should watch out for in babies include unusual posture or movements, spasticity or floppiness in the limbs, exaggerated reflexes, and delays in hitting developmental milestones.

Can a baby with Cerebral Palsy do tummy time?

Tummy time is a quick and easy form of home therapy for young children with Cerebral Palsy. It provides a stretch to the back and the knees that helps prevent postural deformities, improve balance, and develop better head and neck control.

How does a child with Cerebral Palsy walk?

Around half of all children with Cerebral Palsy are able to walk independently with proper Physical Therapy. One in 10 children will use some form of mobility device.

Does Cerebral Palsy affect the eyes?

Visual problems are among the common complications in Cerebral Palsy, and can take the form of cataracts, strabismus (turned eye), and refractive problems. Surgery can help to fix many of these.

Do Cerebral Palsy babies smile?

A normally developing baby should be able to smile from around three months of age. While not smiling does not necessarily indicate Cerebral Palsy, it could point to some developmental issue and is worth taking note of.

Is Cerebral Palsy obvious from birth?

The signs and symptoms of Cerebral Palsy tend to appear over time as the child grows. In severe cases, however, some signs like poor muscle tone or limb deformities may be noticeable at birth.

Can Cerebral Palsy cause a lazy eye?

Children with Cerebral Palsy frequently display vision problems. Lazy eye, or amblyopia, may occur due to an imbalance in the muscles that keep the eyes in place, hindering them from working together and affecting visual ability.

What causes Spastic Cerebral Palsy?

Spastic Cerebral Palsy occurs due to damage to the pyramidal tracts and/or the motor cortex of the brain. It is the most common form of Cerebral Palsy.

How old is the oldest person with Cerebral Palsy?

The oldest person who ever lived with Cerebral Palsy is Bernadette Rivard, who was 83 years old when she passed. In general, depending on the severity of the condition, children with Cerebral Palsy can expect to live between 30 to 70 years.

In conclusion, finding out that your child has mixed CP disease can be tough. However, it is important to remember that your child needs your love and patience more than ever. Work with the child’s doctor to secure the best possible treatment for them early on. Soon enough, your child will start benefiting from therapy and enjoying a happy, pain-free life side by side with their peers.

Occupational Therapy For Spinocerebellar Ataxia: An Overview

Occupational Therapy For Spinocerebellar Ataxia: An Overview

Spinocerebellar Ataxia is a genetic neurodegenerative condition for which there is currently no cure, although it can be managed to a large extent with treatment. The most effective Ataxia treatment involves symptom-based rehabilitation to help the patient overcome individual impairments and be as functional as possible. In this context, Occupational Therapy plays a key role in enabling the patient to eat, dress, and move around independently, thus improving the quality of life around the house, as well as in social environments. Here, we take a closer look at Ataxia and Occupational Therapy and how the latter can enhance the patient’s quality of life.

Understanding Spinocerebellar Ataxia

Spinocerebellar Ataxia, spinocerebellar atrophy, or spinocerebellar degeneration is a genetic disease caused by either a recessive or dominant gene. It refers to a group of ataxias that are known to be hereditary and cause harm to the cerebellum, the part of the brain which maintains balance and controls movements. Spinocerebellar Ataxia may result in non-coordinated gait, impaired hand-eye coordination, and abnormal speech. Because this condition affects the nervous system, it is also known as a nervous disorder. Spinocerebellar Ataxia has no cure, but can be managed with a tailored Ataxia treatment program that includes Stem Cell Therapy.

Symptoms of Spinocerebellar Ataxia

There are several subtypes of Spinocerebellar Ataxia that all manifest somewhat differently. There are, however, several symptoms they have in common. Things to look out for:

  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Learning and memory problems
  • Uncoordinated walking
  • Loss of fine motor skills
  • Speech problems
  • Spasticity
  • Fatigue

Occupational Therapy and Ataxia

As the Spinocerebellar Ataxia progresses, the patient will gradually lose the ability to perform the essential daily tasks of life. Occupational Therapy is a form of Ataxia treatment in which the patient learns how to independently perform tasks like eating, washing, and getting dressed. It makes use of various exercises to strengthen the gross and fine motor skills needed to accomplish those tasks, while also teaching the patient how to use various assistive devices that can make the task easier. 

An occupational therapist will analyze the patient and assess their ability to perform daily tasks on their own, the nature of the tasks they need to perform, the kind of environment they live and work in, the kind of physical assistance that is accessible, as well as the patient’s own preferences. They will then work with the patient to develop a program best suited to their specific needs and impairments. There are four main aspects to this:

  • Strategies and techniques, including functional exercises and tips on dealing with fatigue
  • The use of assistive devices such as specially designed cutlery, electronic devices with bigger buttons, and voice-activated software for communication
  • The use of mobility aids to get around better, such as crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs
  • Changes to the environment to maximize patient safety and comfort, such as installing rails around the house for support or using non slip mats to avoid falls

The objective of Ataxia Occupational Therapy is to help the patient be as independent as possible, in terms of both necessary personal activities and recreational pastimes. Some of the interventions the occupational therapist might make include

  • Guiding the patient towards articulating their own impediments
  • Obtaining more information about those impediments through questionnaires
  • Suggesting the removal of architectural barriers in the house to make it safer
  • Finding ways to help the patient conserve energy while completing tasks 
  • Working with the patient’s family to involve them in support, such as asking someone to drive the patient about
  • Researching other support services such as for physical therapy

It is important for the patient to keep practising whatever the occupational therapist recommends, as repetition is crucial for results. Moreover, if they feel any discomfort during an exercise or the use of a device, they should tell their therapist immediately. They should also inform their therapist about any worsening in symptoms so that the therapist can determine whether more advanced aids might be necessary.

Other treatments for Spinocerebellar Ataxia

The objective is to maximize the patient’s quality of life by enabling safe and independent behavior at home and in workplace or social settings. Typically, an entire healthcare team will be involved in providing holistic treatment to the patient. Apart from Ataxia Occupational Therapy, other types of treatment include:

  • Physical Therapy: This involves various exercises to strengthen and stretch the patient’s muscles for improved functionality, better coordination, improved gait, and reduced pain. The physical therapist will recommend tailored exercises to improve gross and fine motor skills, correct spasticity, and reduce the risk of muscular or bone deformations.
  • Speech Therapy: As the Ataxia affects voluntary movements like speaking and swallowing, Speech Therapy is necessary to improve control over the muscles in the mouth, tongue, and jaw. The speech therapist will guide the patient through exercises to improve articulation, chew food properly, swallow safely, and control their breathing.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This is a highly promising form of Ataxia treatment in which the patient’s own cells are used to help regenerate the cells damaged by the Spinocerebellar Ataxia.

FAQs

How do you treat Ataxia?

Treatment options for Spinocerebellar Ataxia include Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Stem Cell Therapy, Nutritive Stem Cell Therapy, and Neurorehabilitation.

Which sport activity is effective for the management of Ataxia?

Patients with Ataxia are advised to perform cardiovascular activity for good overall health. Treadmill training is an effective sporting activity that helps with balance and gait in addition to maintaining fitness levels.

Can cerebellar Ataxia be cured?

There is currently no cure for Spinocerebellar Ataxia, although Ataxia treatment can significantly improve the symptoms for the patient.

Can rehabilitation help Ataxia?

A tailored rehabilitation program with the right exercises has been demonstrated to slow down the progression of Ataxia and improve coordination and balance.

What vitamin is good for Ataxia?

Studies have shown that Vitamin E supplements can mildly improve the symptoms of Spinocerebellar Ataxia when taken in the early stages.

What kind of doctor treats Ataxia?

Spinocerebellar Ataxia is a neurodegenerative condition, and so you will be recommended to a neurologist. A geneticist may also be involved to assess exactly which subtype of Spinocerebellar Ataxia you have.

Can steroids help Ataxia?

Some studies have demonstrated the efficacy of steroids in improving Spinocerebellar Ataxia symptoms, but they are not a standard prescribed treatment.

Can dehydration cause Ataxia?

Ataxia is caused due to damage to the cerebellum. As such, dehydration cannot cause Ataxia, though it may increase the likelihood of an onset of symptoms.

What are the 3 types of Ataxia?

There are three types of Ataxia depending on the cause. These include acquired Ataxia, genetic Ataxia, and idiopathic Ataxia (when the cause is unknown).

Is Ataxia a neurological disorder?

Spinocerebellar Ataxia affects the working of the central nervous system and is thus classed as a neurological disorder.

Can Ataxia cause memory loss?

Patients with Spinocerebellar Ataxia may exhibit a variety of cognitive problems related to learning, remembering, and decision-making.

Is Ataxia a terminal disease?

Spinocerebellar Ataxia will generally shorten the lifespan, with most patients living only into their 50s or 60s. In more severe subtypes, the life expectancy may be only until early adulthood.

Does Ataxia affect the eyes?

As the Ataxia affects the cerebellum and brainstem, the patient may experience problems with vision and eye movement.

How quickly does Ataxia progress?

The rate of progression of Ataxia depends on the particular subtype the patient has and the age of onset.In conclusion, given the role of appropriate Ataxia treatment in determining outcomes for patients, starting Occupational Therapy early is crucial. The occupational therapist can help you make thoughtful decisions about your habits, personal space, and workplace to help you live as independent and fulfilling a life as possible.

Is It Possible To Recover From Autism?

Is It Possible To Recover From Autism?

For many decades, a diagnosis of Autism has been assumed to be lifelong. Now, however, there may be some hope for parents and children. Recent research indicates that it may, in fact, be possible for children with Autism to move out of the spectrum if they get the right treatment. Autism recovery signs, however, are not guaranteed and parents should approach such possibilities with caution. Here, we delve deeper into what we know about the condition and separate facts from myths when it comes to recovering from Autism. 

Understanding Autism

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Children with Autism frequently have trouble communicating with others and adjusting to social situations, and may also have sensory processing disorders. The causes behind Autism are unknown in most cases, with a combination of genetic factors and poor health during pregnancy usually held responsible. Early diagnosis and intervention enables the child to learn the skills they need through Physical Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy.

Symptoms of Autism

Children with Autism do not have any characteristic facial features and do not have physical delays such as in crawling or sitting up. For this reason, parents may miss the signs of Autism in their child or may assume them to be mere quietness or hyperactivity. Detecting the symptoms early, however, is crucial so that Autism treatment can start early. Typical early signs include:

  • Not responding when their name is called
  • Not showing affection to caregivers or responding to affection 
  • Not demonstrating or understanding facial expressions
  • Not being able to show empathy
  • Showing little to no interest in talking
  • Showing delayed speech and language skills
  • Not wanting to play with other children
  • Obsessing with only a few specific toys
  • Getting upset with even slight changes in routine
  • Getting upset by certain tastes, sounds, or smells
  • Unusual eating or sleeping patterns
  • Exhibiting impulsive, reckless, or potentially harmful behavior
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorders

Diagnosis and treatment for Autism

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children undergo developmental screening at 9, 18, and 30 months of age. It is important to follow this schedule as early intervention can make all the difference for your child with Autism. If your child has been demonstrating the symptoms of Autism or missing important developmental milestones, your pediatrician should screen the child to assess their behavioral and social abilities. If they suspect Autism, they may recommend you to a specialist who will conduct a developmental evaluation. This involves several structured tests such as observation, questionnaires filled by caregivers, and direct interactions with the child to test their thinking, decision-making, and other abilities.

Treatment for Autism is tailored to each child’s symptoms and abilities. Typically, doctors will recommend a range of therapies to help them acquire the necessary life skills. Some of the commonly used Autism treatments include:

  • Applied Behavior Therapy (ABA): This is one of the most effective treatment options for Autism. It involves helping children achieve positive goals through reinforcement and repetition and teaching them how to identify and avoid negative behaviors. It is especially effective as a form of mild Autism treatment.
  • Sensory Integration Therapy: This focuses on addressing sensory processing disorders that a child with Autism may have. The goal is to help the child adjust to sensory inputs that they find overwhelming, while moderating the sensory inputs that the child is hyposensitive to. 
  • Occupational Therapy: This type of therapy focuses specifically on teaching the child skills related to daily functioning. 
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This type of therapy uses the patient’s own cells to help the body to heal itself well enough to mitigate the symptoms of the condition for longer periods. 
  • Diet: Many parents may wish to remove certain food groups from the diet of a child with Autism. It is necessary to consult the doctor and ensure that the child’s diet contains all the fiber, lean protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that the child needs for good health. 

Over time, and with the right treatment, children learn to manage their symptoms and regulate their behavior well enough to participate in professional and social situations. In particular, those with Level 1 Autism may learn to integrate so successfully that they are hard to tell apart from their neurotypical peers.

Can one recover from Autism?

At present, it is widely understood that there is no cure for Autism. However, recent data indicates that there may be the hope for a cure for some. At the University of Connecticut, psychologist Deborah Fein and her colleagues, established in a study that about one in five children on the Autism spectrum may later move off that spectrum entirely. To validate the study, an external reviewer assessed her work, which focused on 34 patients between the ages 8 to 21 years who originally had an Autism diagnosis, as well as 34 neurotypical participants. The reviewer correctly determined that the 34 neurotypical people were all non-autistic, while the 34 patients with an Autism diagnosis no longer fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for it. Dr Fein stated that Behavioral Therapy plays a big role in this, especially when started early. Lisa Gilloty of the National Institute of Mental Health and developmental pediatrician Andrew Adesman also state that some children with Autism may eventually move off the spectrum altogether, and have friends and communicate efficiently just the same as their neurotypical peers.

Critics of the research have pointed out that the children who are declared to be ‘cured’ may simply have been misdiagnosed at the onset or may have had a very mild form of Autism. They also add that the study was conducted after the recovery happened, which means that it cannot pinpoint exactly what kind of treatment caused the recovery. Another study at Weill Cornell Medical College, however, is seeking to address this by studying 100 people with Autism from age 2 to their early 20s.

For the layperson, doctors say that it is important for parents to not keep searching for Autism recovery signs in their children. Dr Fein also states that parents should not feel like they have done anything wrong if their children do not recover. Autism remains a condition about which much is yet to be known, and we are a long way out from any conclusive and guaranteed recovery path.

 

FAQs

  • When does Autism improve?

Studies show that Autism symptoms can improve with age. About 30% of children have less severe symptoms at age 6 than at age 3. 

  • Can Autism be fixed?

At present, there is no complete cure for Autism. The doctors will tailor a treatment program to each child to maximize their ability to learn, interact, and otherwise function well in society.

  • Can Autistic children become normal?

With early intervention and tailored treatment, children with Autism can learn to manage their symptoms effectively. In particular, those with mild Autism may be able to demonstrate almost fully neurotypical behavior as they grow older.

  • Can Autism worsen over time?

Autism is a non-progressive condition, which means that it does not worsen over time.

  • What happens if Autism is left untreated?

When children with Autism do not receive timely treatment, they may struggle with social and behavioral problems all their lives. They are likely to require significant care well into adulthood and may struggle to hold down a job or maintain relationships.

  • What happens to adults with severe Autism?

Adults who have severe Autism may live with their families or in special care facilities, and often require round-the-clock care for basic needs. 

  • Can Autism get SSI?

If your child with Autism is under 18 and you are a low-income family, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as per the Social Security Act.

  • What percent of Autistic students go to college?

In the United States, over 44% of people with Autism receive some form of postsecondary education, and about 1% to 2% of people in universities consist of those who have Autism. 

  • What kind of jobs can Autistic adults do?

Some fulfilling professions for adults with Autism include laboratory technician, computer programmer, mechanic, factory assembly worker, and data scientist.

  • Can people with Autism do well in school?

Many children with Autism do well all the way up to high school, especially if they received treatment early on.

  • Is Autism a serious health condition?

Autism is not an illness the same way Cerebral Palsy or Multiple Sclerosis is an illness. It is, however, a condition that lasts the individual’s entire life.

  • How do you get an Autistic child to listen?

A good way to get your child with Autism to listen when you are talking is by keeping your responses brief at first and rewarding the child for listening all the way through. Gradually, you can start lengthening your answers.

  • How do I get my Autistic child to focus?

Some ways to improve your child’s ability to focus include doing more close-ended activities, doing things your child is interested in, and rewarding good behavior.

  • What part of the brain is damaged in Autism?

Doctors have observed several brain abnormalities in those with Autism, including a reduced cerebellum, a smaller volume of the hippocampus, and larger lobes in the cerebrum.

In short, recent studies have shown that a certain fraction of children may demonstrate Autism recovery signs as they get older. However, as the parent of a child with Autism, your best bet is still early intervention and treatment. With time, your child will learn the social and behavioral skills they need to thrive. And the best thing you can do to help them towards that goal is to give them all your patience, love, and affection.

Autism Symptoms in Young Children: An Overview

Autism symptoms in toddlers

As a parent watching their young child explore the world, it is concerning to see them not hitting their developmental milestones at the right age. Neurodevelopmental disorders like Autism are more common than you think. Autism symptoms fall on a spectrum, which means that each child’s symptoms are different, which in turn means that Autism can go undetected for several months. While most children receive an Autism diagnosis at around three years of age, it can sometimes be caught as early as 18 months. Here, we offer a guide to the signs and symptoms of Autism in toddlers and young children so you know what to watch out for.

Understanding Autism

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Children with Autism often have trouble following rules or communicating with others, which makes it hard for them to form relationships. The symptoms of Autism will usually become evident by the time the child is two or three years old. Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Social Skills Therapy are all useful forms of intervention to help the child adjust better to social situations.

Autism symptoms in babies

For some children, Autism symptoms appear as early as in the first few months of life. Since there are no obvious physical symptoms, it can be hard to detect these. However, parents can observe how the baby interacts with the world around them and take note of any unusual behaviors. Some of the early signs of Autism in babies include:

By three months

  • Not making eye contact
  • Not paying attention to new faces
  • Not following moving objects with their eyes

By seven months

  • Not smiling or laughing
  • Not reaching for objects
  • Not cooing or babbling
  • Not responding to games like peek-a-boo
  • Not showing affection for parents or caregivers

By 12 months

  • Not pointing to pictures or objects
  • Not responding when their name is said, but responding to other sounds like meows or barks
  • Not yet saying their first word

It is important, however, to remember that some children simply meet developmental milestones later than others. As such, observing a few Autism symptoms in babies does not have to be cause for panic.

Symptoms of Autism in toddlers

As your child grows up, the developmental differences become more apparent. However, this is not always the case. Particularly if your child has only mild Autism symptoms, they may simply be attributed to naught behavior or a reserved nature. In addition, Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that the range of symptoms each child displays is highly different. The common signs and symptoms of Autism in toddlers can be categorized into three types. These include:

1. Communication / language symptoms

  • Repeating the same phrases over 
  • Repeating back what is said when spoken to
  • Delayed speech and language skills compared to peers
  • Not pointing to objects or people, or not responding when other people point
  • Not starting or keeping up conversations
  • Speaking in a monotonous or sing-song voice
  • Not understanding jokes, sarcasm, or other nuances of speech
  • Reversing pronouns, such as by saying ‘you’ in place of ‘I’
  • Losing language, typically between 15 and 24 months, a symptom called regression

2. Social skills related symptoms

  • Not responding when their name is called
  • Not making facial expressions
  • Not smiling back when a loved one smiles at them
  • Avoiding physical contact such as hugs
  • Not understanding when given instructions
  • Not wanting to play with other children or with caregivers
  • Not wanting to share toys or other things
  • Hard to comfort or soothe when upset or angry
  • Not understanding other people’s feelings

3. Irregular behavior symptoms

  • Making repetitive movements like hand flapping or rocking back and forth
  • Getting very upset by certain smells or sounds
  • Getting very upset by even small changes in routine
  • Having obsessive interest in specific objects or parts of objects, like toys with spinning wheels
  • Doing a few things repeatedly all day, such as shutting doors or counting things
  • Playing with toys the same way all the time
  • Looking at objects from unusual angles
  • Having frequent, often aggressive tantrums
  • Being impulsive
  • Being hyperactive
  • Showing either a lack of fear or unusual amounts of fear
  • Displaying self-injuring behaviors, like pinching or hitting head against a wall

Autism symptoms in girls Vs in boys

It is commonly observed that Autism is diagnosed much more frequently in boys, than in girls. This is because certain unusual behaviors, for instance, might be more noticeable in boys on account of the toys they typically play with. An obsession with the wheels of cars or with lining up Lego blocks the same way, again and again, is fairly noticeable. On the other hand, a tendency in girls to arrange their dolls in a straight line or dress them all the same way might just be viewed as a liking for neatness or those particular clothes. 

It has also been observed that girls with Autism, particularly the high-functioning kind, are able to mimic neurotypical social traits much better than boys. Girls may also be culturally expected to be quieter and shyer than boys, which is why traits such as not making eye contact or being withdrawn around people could be viewed positively as modesty, rather than as Autism symptoms in toddlers.

What to do if you suspect your child has Autism

If you have been monitoring your child’s developmental progress and suspect that they might have Autism, the first thing is to not fret needlessly. Sometimes, children may simply reach developmental milestones later than other children. It is important, nonetheless, to take your child to the pediatrician for a proper screening. Ideally, you should have them screened at nine months of age, and at the very least at 12 months of age.

There is no single test that can diagnose Autism. Instead, the doctor will closely monitor your child and ask you detailed questions about the symptoms you have observed so far. Putting your child in a social setting, such as with a therapist or in a play group with other children, is a useful way of noting Autism symptoms in toddlers. If the pediatrician suspects Autism, they may recommend you to a specialist for further testing. It may take a while to actually confirm a diagnosis, as many of the signs and symptoms of Autism in toddlers are not conclusive until much later. 

If your child indeed has Autism, there are several excellent treatment options available to manage the symptoms and help them function effectively. The therapist will tailor a plan to your child to help them learn positive behaviors, communicate their wants and needs, interact effectively with other people, and handle changes and adjustments better. The earlier the intervention, the more your child can benefit from the treatment.

FAQs

  • What does Level 1 Autism look like?

Level 1 Autism is regarded as ‘high-functioning’ Autism, or the least severe level on the Autism spectrum. Children with Level 1 Autism do not usually have language delays, but they may have trouble saying the right thing at the right time, or understanding non-verbal cues like gestures or body language.

  • What should you not do with a child that has Autism?

It is critical for parents or caregivers of a child with Autism to not take their behaviors personally. If the child walks away from you while you are speaking to them, or has a meltdown in public, remember that they process things differently from how neurotypical children might. Exercise patience.

  • What are the 3 core deficits of Autism?

Autism belongs to a category of neurodevelopmental conditions known as pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). The core deficits that PDDs are characterized by include impaired reciprocal social interaction, impaired communication, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior.

The diagnosis of Autism usually involves observations on the child’s behavior and developmental history, as well as certain screening tests. Since there is no single medical test for Autism, it often involves ruling out other conditions that may be behind the Autism symptoms in toddlers.

  • Can a child show signs of Autism and not have it?

Sometimes, it may happen that a child displays behavior consistent with Autism symptoms in toddlers, but then these symptoms go away. This simply means that the child is reaching some developmental milestones later than usual. Parents need not worry, as every child is different and grows at their own pace.

  • What happens if Autism is not treated?

If children do not receive intervention for Autism at the right age, they will continue to struggle with social interactions and may never develop the skills needed to communicate effectively. This could have adverse implications for their life as they grow up, including an inability to complete degrees or hold down jobs, and difficulty having relationships.

  • What are the negatives of Autism?

Children with Autism tend to have trouble forming and maintaining relationships with other people, both in professional settings and personally. They may experience social isolation as their symptoms make it hard for them to fit in. The stress of looking after a child with Autism, moreover, can cause strife within the family.

  • How can I help my Autistic toddler?

As a parent, the best way you can help your child navigate Autism symptoms in toddlers is by creating a safe, loving space for them at home. Be patient as you explain things to them and praise them for any and all efforts they make. In addition, pay special attention to any sensory processing issues and ensure you have ways for the child to be soothed if they have a sensory meltdown.

  • What are the common traits of Autism?

The typical symptoms of Autism in children include not wanting to be around other people, finding it difficult to express oneself, appearing rude without meaning to, not understanding non-verbal cues like gestures or expressions, and being uncomfortable in social situations.

  • Do Autistic kids have health issues?

Children with Autism can fall ill just like their neurotypical peers. In addition, there is some evidence to show that children with Autism are at a higher risk for certain health complications like asthma, allergies, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, and heart disease.

  • What does high-functioning Autism look like in toddlers?

The typical Autism symptoms in toddlers for those with the high-functioning variety include a reluctance to play with peers, a reluctance to share toys, and difficulty following instructions or doing things in a group. They will typically not have language delays, and may even have above-average verbal ability.

  • At what age do Autistic children talk?

One of the classic Autism symptoms in toddlers is a delay in speech and language skills. They may say their first word only at 36 months, whereas the average is between 12 and 18 months. However, children with high-functioning Autism may start talking at the same age as their neurotypical peers, or even earlier.

  • Do Autistic toddlers have sleep problems?

Studies indicate that between 40% and 80% of children with Autism exhibit sleep problems. This chiefly takes the form of difficulty falling and staying asleep or an irregular sleep schedule.

  • What causes speech delay in a two-year-old?

Speech delay is one of the common Autism symptoms in babies. However, it could also occur due to an oral impairment such as a cleft lip or a short frenulum, or some other condition like Cerebral Palsy.

In conclusion, spotting a few of the early signs of Autism in babies is not necessarily a cause for worry. However, for your own peace of mind, it is important to take your child for developmental check-ups as early as possible. This not only helps to rule out other health conditions the child may have but also ensures early intervention and treatment for Autism. You can be assured, therefore, of a healthy future for your toddler.

How To Exercise Optimally For A Lower Level Spinal Cord Injury

How To Exercise Optimally For A Lower Level Spinal Cord Injury

If you’ve suffered a lower level Spinal Cord Injury, the road to recovery may seem interminable. However, it is essential to remain as physically active as possible for proper healing. Your therapist will work with you to create a tailored exercise program with the ideal goals and exercises to support your healing. Here, we provide an introduction to the types of exercises recommended for a lower level Spinal Cord Injury, as well as tips on making the most of your treatment.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injury

A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is mutilation to the spinal cord that causes reversible or irreversible changes in its function. Symptoms may include loss of muscle function, sensation, or autonomic function in the parts of the body supplied by the spinal cord below the level of the injury. Spinal Cord Injury may be complete or incomplete depending on the extent and severity of the damage. It largely occurs due to vehicular or sporting accidents and affects mainly people between the ages of 16 and 30. 

Exercise options for patients with lower level SCI

Physical Therapy is crucial for patients with a Spinal Cord Injury, not only to bring back strength to the affected muscle but also to maintain a healthy body weight, avoid complications like high blood sugar, and boost the mood. In a lower level Spinal Cord Injury, the focus is on strengthening and toning the lower body muscles with an emphasis on maximizing functionality. There are three key components to exercise for an SCI patient.

  • Aerobic exercise: This is excellent for cardiovascular health and can be either moderate-intensity or high-intensity. Cycling, swimming, rowing, and circuit training are all efficient forms of aerobic exercise. Any aerobic exercise session should include a light-intensity warm-up and cooldown.
  • Strength training: This involves targeting major muscle groups with machinery, free weights, or bodyweight to enhance functionality and improve muscle strength. Patients should perform them in sets of eight to 15 repetitions depending on the weight used. Proper form is crucial to target the right muscles and prevent injury.
  • Stretching: Stretching and flexibility training is a key part of the best Spinal Cord Injury treatment in Bangalore. The best stretching programs will focus on all the major muscle groups and particularly the shoulders and joints, as these are most prone to injury and tightness. Stretching exercises can be done alone or with a companion, and should ideally be done multiple times a week.

Things to keep in mind when starting an exercise program

Benefitting from the best Spinal Cord Injury treatment in Bangalore is as much about mindset as it is about the exercise itself. As you embark on this journey, remember that there will be ups and downs and that you need to keep going nonetheless. Here are some tips to help you out.

  • Get the right nutrition: Getting the most out of your exercise program requires a proper diet with all the food groups in the right proportions. Load up on lean protein, fiber, and vegetables. Reduce processed food intake.
  • Start slow: If you were not accustomed to exercising before your injury, start small with 10 minutes per day. As you get used to it, you can amp it up. The important thing is to keep showing up.
  • Pay attention to any injuries: Patients with Spinal Cord Injury often lose feeling below the injury level, which means that you could be sustaining cuts or muscle strains in your lower body without realizing it.
  • Consult your doctor about aids: If you are noticing higher levels of exhaustion, or a decrease or stagnation in your abilities, ask your doctor about wheelchairs or other mobility aids that you can use to get around.
  • Don’t lose heart: There will always be tough days when you simply can’t perform an exercise or you feel too low to even try. Take breaks if you need to, but always come back and keep trying. Results may be slow, but they will happen.

A lower level Spinal Cord Injury can be life-changing in the effort and attitude it requires healing. While it is undoubtedly a challenge, trust that you are receiving the best Spinal Cord Injury treatment in Bangalore and keep putting in the work. Stay consistent, follow your therapist’s recommendations, and listen to your body at all times. Before long, you’ll be seeing the results.

What is Hirayama’s Disease? An Overview

What is Hirayama's Disease? An Overview

If you haven’t heard of Hirayama’s Disease before, you’re not alone. Hirayama’s Disease is a neurological condition that primarily affects the lower cervical cord in young males, and is classed as a rare disease. Little is known about how it works, but the good news is that it’s not as serious as it may sound. Here, we offer a brief introduction to what Hirayama’s Disease looks like.

Understanding Hirayama’s Disease

Hirayama’s Disease is a rare neurological condition that causes a gradually progressive atrophy of the muscles in the arms and forearms. Also known as monomelic amyotrophy (MMA), it primarily impacts young males in their late teens and early twenties. It was first defined by Keizo Hiramaya in Japan in 1959 as a juvenile muscular atrophy. Hirayama’s Disease primarily affects young males in countries like India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore, although there have been cases in non-Asian countries too. The disease typically progresses the fastest in the first few years before stabilizing by itself.

Symptoms for Hirayama’s Disease

Typically, Hirayama’s Disease will manifest as a sudden weakness in one or both arms, leading to difficulty performing daily activities like writing or playing games. The classic symptoms for Hirayama’s Disease include:

  • Weakness in the hands and / or forearms
  • A ‘wasted’ appearance of the hands
  • Tremors in the hands
  • Unilateral / asymmetrically bilateral muscular atrophy
  • Excessive sweating of the palms
  • Impaired palmar grasp (the reflex by which one instinctively grasps something placed in the hand)
  • Hypertonia (in some cases)
  • Mild worsening of symptoms when exposed to the cold
  • Slow progression in the initial years followed by spontaneous stabilization

It is the disease’s tendency to stabilize it on its own, that separates it from motor neuron disease, which it is often mistaken for. There is also no sensory impairment in the hands. 

Diagnosing Hirayama’s Disease

Patients who have been exhibiting symptoms for Hirayama’s Disease should visit the clinic right away. The doctor will examine the patient’s medical history and take notes on any family history of neurological conditions, before running multiple tests including blood, stool, thyroid, and urine. The diagnosis of Hirayama’s Disease is typically by exclusion, once the doctor has ruled out other possible culprits such as motor neuron disease, brachial plexopathy, multifocal motor neuropathy, and spinal cord tumours. An MRI can also detect signs like asymmetric Spinal Cord Atrophy, upper motor neuron lesions, and forward displacement of the posterior subdural sac upon neck flexion.

Treatment for Hirayama’s Disease

Hirayama’s Disease is a self-limiting condition, as the progression stabilizes on its own after some years. In addition, regular physiotherapy can help to restore strength in the arm and hand muscles and avoid secondary problems like joint stiffness or immobility.

In short, while it may be alarming to suddenly feel your hands and arms become weaker, Hirayama’s Disease is among the least serious forms of atrophy and will in fact cease progressing on its own. With early detection and intervention, you can keep the symptoms well under control and enjoy all the activities you love.

How To Manage Dysphagia: An Overview

How To Manage Dysphagia: An Overview

We’ve all occasionally had that feeling of food getting stuck in the throat or going down the wrong way. For people with Dysphagia, however, those are constant risks every time they eat. It can be painful and distressing to be unable to take in your favorite foods, but the good news is that there are several forms of treatment for Dysphagia to address that. Here, we offer a brief guide on how to manage Dysphagia to answer all your questions.

Understanding Dysphagia

Dysphagia essentially refers to difficulty swallowing food and beverages. It can range from simply taking more time to transfer food from the mouth to the stomach, to an inability to swallow altogether. While typically commoner in older adults, it can happen at any age depending on what other medical conditions the patient has. Treatment for Dysphagia ranges from complete recovery to management of symptoms.

Symptoms of Dysphagia

Dysphagia often arises as a result of pre-existing conditions, such as Cerebral Palsy or Motor Neuron Disease, which impair the functioning of the muscles in the mouth, throat, and tongue. It can also be caused by obstructions such as oesophageal tumors, or as a side effect of radiation treatment. Signs and symptoms to watch out for include:

  • An inability to swallow food
  • Feeling like food is stuck in the throat
  • Pain during swallowing
  • Drooling
  • Food regurgitation
  • Hoarseness
  • Acid reflux
  • Weight loss
  • Heartburn

Diagnosing Dysphagia

If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms above, it is essential to get a check-up immediately. The doctor will ask for details of your swallowing problem and of your medical history and any medications you currently take. Among the standard tests used to diagnose Dysphagia are:

  • Imaging tests like a CT scan or an MRI
  • X-ray of the esophagus after swallowing a contrast material like a barium solution
  • An endoscopy to visually examine the esophagus with the help of an endoscope
  • A manometry to test muscle contractions in the esophagus as the patient tries to swallow
  • A dynamic swallowing test that evaluates muscle contractions in the mouth and throat as the patient swallows different types of barium-coated foods

Treatment for Dysphagia

The main goals of treatment for Dysphagia involve ensuring sufficient nutritional intake for the patient while protecting the airway. A speech and swallowing therapist can provide tailored guidance on how to manage Dysphagia through techniques like:

  • New swallowing techniques to allow for safe food intake
  • Exercises to strengthen the muscles of the mouth, tongue, jaw, and throat
  • Proper posture, including sitting straight up, facing forward, and keeping the neck upright through support if necessary
  • Chewing techniques to get the food ready for safe swallowing
  • A special diet including textures, temperatures, and portions of food and drink that the patient can swallow easily
  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals
  • Limiting alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Adding thickeners to thin liquids to make them easier to swallow

In certain cases, treatment for dysphagia may entail the use of aids, such as:

  • Inserting a stent to open up a narrowed or blocked esophagus
  • An oral suction unit to clear the mouth of accumulated food particles and saliva
  • A valved straw that enables sucking liquids by retaining them near the top of the straw
  • Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG), involving a tube inserted directly into the stomach for nutritional intake
  • Surgery to clear the esophagus of any tumors or other blockages

In conclusion, Dysphagia can cause discomfort and hinder your ability to enjoy your meals. However, proper treatment for dysphagia can protect you from the potential dangers while giving you new ways to taste and enjoy food.

Swallowing Therapy for MND: An Overview

Swallowing Therapy for MND: An Overview

We often take actions like eating and drinking for granted. For people with conditions like Motor Neuron Disease, however, these simple acts can pose significant challenges. Weakened muscles in the mouth make it harder for food to be chewed and swallowed properly, which can be distressful and potentially harmful for the patient. Luckily, the best therapy for MND includes a variety of swallowing therapy options to address this. Let’s take a closer look.

Understanding Motor Neuron Disease

Motor neuron diseases are a group of neurodegenerative disorders that selectively affect motor neurons – cells that control all the voluntary muscles of the body. These muscles are responsible for performing movements under one’s will and thus, motor neuron diseases impact one’s ability to perform voluntary movements.

Swallowing difficulties with Motor Neuron Disease

Swallowing activates both the voluntary and the involuntary muscles. Muscles in the lips, tongue, and jaw work to retain food and saliva in the mouth for proper chewing and preparation for swallowing, while the automatic reflex conveys the food down the throat to the stomach for digestion. In a patient with MND, nerve damage means that these muscles are unable to work properly, which can cause problems with chewing, swallowing, and saliva accumulation.

Difficulties with swallowing may be hard to notice at first. You may feel certain changes in the way you eat and swallow, such as

  • A feeling of food being stuck in the throat
  • A need to swallow more frequently to clear food or saliva
  • Coughing or gagging while consuming food or beverages
  • Drooling or leaking food from the mouth
  • A choking feeling

It is important to identify these signs as early as possible and sign up for swallowing therapy for MND to avoid more complications later. 

Swallowing therapy techniques for MND

If an MND patient is experiencing swallowing difficulties, their doctor will recommend them to a specialized healthcare team, including

  • A speech therapist to teach proper swallowing techniques
  • A dietitian to select foods that will allow for adequate nutrition and weight maintenance while accommodating swallowing needs
  • An Occupational Therapist to teach the use of various aids to safer eating and drinking

Some of the aids that are commonly recommended as part of the best therapy for MND include:

  • Head supports: These are useful in case neck weakness is causing the head to fall and inhibiting eating
  • Valved straw: This reduces the difficulty of sucking liquids by keeping the liquid near the top of the straw
  • Oral suction unit: This helps clear the mouth of accumulated food particles and saliva 
  • Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG): This is a special procedure for patients who find it excessively difficult to swallow – a tube is inserted straight into the stomach, whereby food and fluids can be passed 

Tips to eat and swallow with MND

To ensure that you get adequate nutrition while also enjoying your meals, here are some lifestyle tips to consider:

  • Sit upright and face forward while eating
  • Avoid distractions like talking or TV
  • Eat in small mouthfuls, and take small sips of beverages
  • Chew properly using the techniques taught
  • Try out different types of food, including textures and temperatures, to assess the easiest for you to swallow
  • Try blending foods into a smoothie texture for easier swallowing
  • Avoid crumbly or excessively dry foods
  • If you have trouble swallowing thin liquids, consider adding thickeners to them
  • Take your therapist’s advice on high-calorie items that you can easily consume to meet your nutritional needs
  • Continue to sit upright for about 20 minutes after a meal
  • Take good care of your teeth so that you can chew and swallow better
  • Get frequent check-ups to ensure that your airways are clear and that you are not at risk of a chest infection

Swallowing difficulties can inhibit eating habits and be a source of stress, but there are a variety of treatments available to tackle this. By gaining awareness on swallowing therapy for MND beforehand, you can work with your therapist to implement safe techniques and assistive devices so that you can still enjoy all the foods and beverages that you love. 

Multiple Sclerosis VS MND: What’s The Difference?

Multiple Sclerosis VS MND: What's The Difference?

If a patient experiences symptoms like muscle spasms or trouble walking, some may suspect it to be Multiple Sclerosis, while others may say it’s Motor Neuron Disease. While MS and MND do have some commonalities, they are completely different conditions that require unique treatment approaches. Here, we offer a brief guide on the difference between Multiple Sclerosis and MND.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis and Motor Neuron Disease

Motor neuron diseases are a group of neurodegenerative disorders that selectively affect motor neurons – cells which control all the voluntary muscles of the body. These muscles are responsible for performing movements under one’s will and thus, motor neuron diseases affect one’s ability to perform voluntary movements.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. It is an autoimmune demyelinating disease, which means the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues — in this case, the myelin or protective covering around nerve fibers. This leaves scarred tissues or lesions in multiple areas, disrupting electrical impulses throughout the body. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve impulses slow down or even stop, causing neurological problems.

Similarities between Multiple Sclerosis and Motor Neuron Disease

When it comes to MS vs MND, both diseases manifest in a somewhat similar fashion, which is why several people confuse them. Here’s what they have in common:

  • Both are chronic, degenerative conditions
  • Both affect the central nervous system and cause hardening or scarring around nerve cells
  • Both affect muscles and limbs, causing problems with voluntary movement
  • Early symptoms for both include fatigue, muscle spasms, and trouble walking
  • The diagnosis for both requires similar tests such as an MRI, a spinal tap, and tests of neurological function 
  • Both have no cure, but can be managed through a tailored treatment plan

Differences between Multiple Sclerosis and Motor Neuron Disease

While the points of distinction between MS and MND are numerous, here we only discuss the most salient ones.

  • The key difference between Multiple Sclerosis and MND is that Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune condition, while MND is a neurodegenerative condition
  • In Multiple Sclerosis, the disease affects the myelin sheaths in the central nervous system, disrupting the way signals are sent to other parts of the body. However, in MND, the actual nerve cells are affected, which is what causes movement problems
  • MS mostly affects patients between the ages of 20 and 40, while MND mostly affects those between the ages of 40 and 70
  • In general, Multiple Sclerosis is a more common condition than MND
  • MS occurs most commonly in Caucasians, while all ethnicities are equally likely to get MND
  • In addition to movement-related symptoms, Multiple Sclerosis affects bladder control and cognitive ability, as well as the senses of sight, touch, and smell. Motor Neuron Disease, however, causes only movement disorders
  • The symptoms of MS tend to come and go in patterns of relapse and recovery. With MND, the symptoms tend to progressively worsen
  • Patients with Multiple Sclerosis tend to live an almost normal lifespan. Those with MND usually survive five to 10 years after diagnosis, although some go on to live much longer
  • Late-stage Multiple Sclerosis is rarely fatal in itself, although death can occur from related complications. Late-stage MND, on the other hand, is highly debilitating and ultimately fatal

Receiving a diagnosis of either Multiple Sclerosis or MND can be a challenging moment for the patient and their family. It is important to thoroughly understand what each condition entails so that the patient can secure the best treatment available. If you or a loved one display the early symptoms of either, make sure to get a check-up and diagnosis promptly.

What Happens To Nerve Cells In MS: An Overview

What Happens To Nerve Cells In MS: An Overview

While Multiple Sclerosis is primarily defined as an autoimmune condition, it is also classed as neurodegenerative owing to the impact it has on nerve cells. Essentially, MS causes the body’s immune system to attack neurons, which affects the way the central nervous system communicates with the body. Here, we examine how Multiple Sclerosis affects nerve cells and causes demyelination in patients.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. It is an autoimmune demyelinating disease, which means the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues — in this case, the myelin or protective covering around nerve fibers. This leaves scarred tissues or lesions in multiple areas, disrupting electrical impulses throughout the body. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve impulses slow down or even stop, causing neurological problems.

What are neurons?

Before diving into what happens to nerve cells in MS, let’s take a look at what they are. Nerve cells, or neurons, are what convey messages from the central nervous system to the rest of the body. Neurons consist of an axon that can be up to one meter long, as well as several dendrites. The space between the axon of one neuron and the dendrite of another is known as the synapse.

When the central nervous system needs to convey information to a certain part of the body, it comes into the neuron through the dendrites and travels through the axon to the synapse. Neurotransmitters are then released by the neuron and accepted by the receptors of the adjacent neuron, and this enables the information to cross the synapse.

Surrounding the nerve cells are glial cells, which are special support cells containing oligodendrocytes that produce a fatty protein called myelin. Myelin sheaths the axon and serves as a protective layer, much like the insulative coating around an electrical wire, while also enabling information to pass smoothly through the nerve cells.

How Multiple Sclerosis affects the myelin sheath

When a patient suffers an MS attack, an immune system response is triggered that leads to inflammation of the nerve cells and the glial cells. This damages the oligodendrocytes, which in turn means that myelin cannot be produced at the normal rate, which causes the myelin sheath to be stripped away. This process is known as demyelination, and a demyelinated nerve cannot transmit messages properly. As a result, depending on where the nerve damage has occurred, the patient will experience difficulties with voluntary movement. 

Post the MS attack, the body is able to heal the damage to some extent – known as remyelination. The new myelin tends to be thinner, however, which means that messages cannot be transmitted as efficiently as before. As the disease progresses, the oligodendrocytes may be unable to produce myelin altogether. As more and more of the axon remains exposed, scars form on the nerve cells that affect their ability to be regenerated. A tell-tale sign of Multiple Sclerosis, therefore, is the white lesions that show up on MRI scans from the scarring. 

Risk factors for Multiple Sclerosis

As of now, no one knows exactly why or how Multiple Sclerosis begins. Research continues on what triggers the initial autoimmune attack and which antibodies attack the myelin sheath. Generally, a mix of genetic and environmental factors is held responsible. Other risk factors include:

  • Being female – women are up to three times likelier than men to get MS
  • Being Caucasian
  • Living farther away from the equator
  • Having certain viruses like Epstein-Barr
  • Having other autoimmune conditions like thyroid disease

In short, Multiple Sclerosis gradually breaks down the ability of the nerve cells to heal and operate efficiently, which is what causes problems with voluntary movement. There are, however, several treatments that slow down the rate of damage and improve remyelination so that the patient can be more functional. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for Multiple Sclerosis to optimize your health and wellbeing today.

ABA VS Sensory Integration Therapy: The Difference

ABA VS Sensory Integration Therapy: The Difference

If you’ve been researching treatment options for your child with Autism, you’ve likely come across these two terms. Both ABA and Sensory Integration Therapy are highly effective techniques to help your child adjust better to social situations, and get along with other people. The two, however, address different aspects of Autistic behavior. Here, we provide a brief introduction to the difference between ABA and Sensory Integration Therapy.

Understanding Autism

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Children with Autism tend to have trouble following social norms or communicating with others, and may also react negatively to sensory stimuli. Treatment options include various kinds of therapy to help the child handle themselves better and fit into social situations.

ABA vs Sensory Integration Therapy

Before we go into the difference between ABA and Sensory Integration Therapy, let’s take a closer look at each.

Applied Behavior Therapy (ABA) is one of the most commonly prescribed therapy options for children with Autism. It involves helping children achieve positive goals, and teaching them how to recognize and consequently avoid negative behaviors. Therapists will observe the child’s current behavioral patterns and then tailor a treatment plan based on the appropriate skills to pick up. They then break down each skill into smaller components and teach the child those components through reinforcement, repetition, and rewards. Typically, parents and other caregivers also participate in ABA to reinforce the lessons outside of the fixed therapy hours.

Sensory Integration Therapy focuses on sensory processing disorders, including hyperstimulation and hypostimulation. The goal is to help the child adjust to overwhelming sensory input while moderating the input the child is hyposensitive to. This type of therapy usually involves a tailored sensory diet to help the child process inputs in the correct fashion. It can include various sensory toys, a special diet to accommodate food sensory issues, physical exercises, and a sensory gym.

From this, a key point of difference emerges:

  • Sensory Integration Therapy focuses on the child’s ability to receive sensory information, match it with prior knowledge in the brain, and develop a suitable response. A child with Autism is often unable to process sensory information such as sounds, bright lights, or textures, and thus responds with unusual actions like yelling, stimming, or hitting out. While this may seem like simple misbehavior, it is in fact a neurological response, as a result of a maladjusted sensory processing system.
  • On the other hand, ABA focuses on developing appropriate behaviors while discouraging negative or harmful ones. These behaviors relate more to daily interactions with or without other people, such as taking a bath, getting dressed for school, or sharing toys with a peer. The focus is on helping children adjust better to situations they are uncomfortable with, rather than situations that trigger them neurologically. 

Which is better for my child?

When it comes to deciding whether to go for ABA vs Sensory Integration Therapy, it is important to consult a healthcare team who can examine your child and determine the right course of action. Some of the techniques they may use to make a diagnosis include clinical observations, interviews with caregivers and teachers about the child’s behavior, sensory profiling, and a sensory integration observation checklist. Ultimately, they may even determine that your child needs both forms of therapy, in which case they will draw up a suitable treatment plan.

In conclusion, the difference between ABA and Sensory Integration Therapy lies chiefly in the underlying problem they are addressing. If your child with Autism has been displaying inappropriate or dangerous behaviors, take them to a therapist who can decide whether ABA or Sensory Integration Therapy is the best way to help them develop positive responses.

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy: Stages, Symptoms & Treatment | Plexus

progressive-supranuclear-palsy

Being a rare progressive condition that is not often highlighted or discussed, the diagnosis of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, can be overwhelming. It is a serious neurodegenerative disease that affects the parts of the brain that control voluntary movement and coordination, leading to symptoms like muscle stiffness, poor balance, and difficulty swallowing. As a rare disease, research on causes and treatments is still ongoing. Here, we offer a quick guide on everything you need to know about Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and how you can treat it.

Understanding Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy is a neurodegenerative condition that causes problems with balance, speech, swallowing, and vision. It is a rare disease that affects people over the age of 60 and occurs due to progressive damage in the brain cells that are located just above the nerves, controlling eye movement.  Brain damage occurs due to the abnormal build-up of a protein called tau, which cannot be broken down properly by the patient’s brain. While Progressive Supranuclear Palsy can be linked to certain genes, it is not a hereditary condition.

Symptoms of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy symptoms are very similar to several other known conditions, and it is therefore easy to  misdiagnose. The symptoms develop gradually at first, and then progress faster. Some of the common symptoms that patients may notice include:

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Problems with balance and movement (a heightened tendency to fall)
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Fatigue
  • Slow, slurred speech
  • Softened voice
  • Difficulty controlling eye and eyelid movement (especially looking downward)
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Sudden aversion to bright lights
  • Difficulties with thought and memory
  • Recklessness or poor judgement
  • Impulsive acts like crying or laughing without cause
  • Trouble swallowing (Dysphagia)
  • Insomnia
  • Varying between being overtly expressive and expressionless
  • Having trouble finding the right word while speaking

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Stages

As a progressive disease, PSP moves through various stages, each with differing degrees of symptom severity. In general, doctors classify cases into four main stages. They are:

Early Stage

This stage spans through the first year of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. The patient is ambulant, but displays coordination problems and an occasional tendency to fall. They also experience changes in mood, may display apathy, and feel a reduced need to socialize. Vision problems may arise, with symptoms so mild that the patient may not be diagnosed.

Mid Stage

This stage spans through years two and three of the disease. The patient will still be ambulant, but require aid. Coordination and vision problems exacerbate, and patients may experience Dysphagia. The patient is likely to display apathy and risky behavior and will require regular supervision.

Late Stage

This stage spans through years three to six of the condition. Patients will require intensive care during this time. They will experience significant problems with mobility, coordination, and vision, and become much more withdrawn socially. Other symptoms include incontinence, Dysphagia, sleepiness, and pain.

End Stage

This is the end-of-life stage, and can last six to eight weeks. The patient will lose all or most consciousness and have severe disabilities. They will also be susceptible to acute infection.

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy VS Parkinson’s Disease

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy is often confused with Parkinson’s Disease, which is another neurodegenerative condition. Often, doctors will observe many of the symptoms of PSP in Parkinson’s and vice versa. The two, however, are not the same and require different treatment approaches. 

The similarities between PSP and Parkinson’s include:

  • Problems with balance and coordination
  • Softened or slurred speech
  • Problems with thinking and memory
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Commonly affecting people above the age of 60

The differences between PSP and Parkinson’s are as follows:

  • In general, PSP progresses much more quickly and responds less to treatment than Parkinson’s Disease.
  • Patients with PSP usually stand straight or bend backwards slightly. However, patients with Parkinson’s tend to lean forward more.
  • Speech and swallowing problems appear earlier and are more severe in PSP than in Parkinson’s.
  • Patients with Parkinson’s Disease commonly exhibit tremors, which are rare in cases of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.
  • Motor symptoms are more symmetric in PSP, while they typically show up asymmetrically in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease.

Diagnosing Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Given the similarity PSP shares with other conditions, including Parkinson’s Disease, it can take a while to get a definitive diagnosis. Typically, doctors will conduct a brain scan (such as MRI or PET) to check for the build-up of the tau protein.They also conduct cognitive tests to assess thinking, learning, and memory abilities. The doctor will usually call in a neurologist with expertise in PSP to ask patients several questions about their symptoms. These questions attempt to discover whether patients are experiencing mood swings, loss of interest in things they once liked, change in their sleeping patterns, whether they have been falling more often, or experiencing muscle stiffness.

Treatment for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

There is currently no cure for PSP and no way to slow down its progression. However, treatment can keep the symptoms under control and ensure the best quality of life possible. Typically, several therapists and healthcare professionals will work together to create a tailored treatment plan for the patient. The common components of a PSP treatment plan include:

  • Physical Therapy: This focuses on improving balance, posture, coordination, and fine motor skills, while also relieving muscle stiffness. The therapist will recommend a variety of stretching and strengthening exercises to target multiple muscle groups. They may also recommend special walking shoes or frames to help the patient move about safely without losing balance.
  • Occupational Therapy: This focuses on enabling the patient to do daily tasks like eating and bathing independently. In addition to tailored exercises, this can also involve teaching the patient how to use assistive devices, making recommendations on home safety — such as adding grab rails
  • Speech and Language Therapy: This helps to train the muscles in the tongue and mouth for safe chewing and swallowing, as well as clearer verbal articulation.
  • Medication: The doctor can prescribe medicines to treat specific Progressive Supranuclear Palsy symptoms, such as muscle stiffness, depression, sleep problems, or fatigue. Some of the medications used by Parkinson’s Disease patients may also help.
  • Spectacles: Eyeglasses fitted with prism lenses can help patients with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy to look downward.
  • Feeding Tubes: Especially in later stages of the condition, the doctor may prescribe feeding tubes to help with swallowing.

FAQs

  • Is PSP worse than Parkinson’s?

While there are several similarities between PSP and Parkinson’s, PSP generally progresses much faster and doesn’t respond as well to treatment as Parkinson’s.

  • Is PSP a terminal illness?

While PSP itself is not fatal, it results in complications such as Pneumonia and fall-related injuries that can be fatal.

  • Does PSP run in families?

While the genetic cause of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy is unknown in most cases, it can sometimes run in the family.

  • Does PSP cause Dementia?

PSP causes multiple cognitive problems, including Dementia and trouble with learning and decision-making.

  • How quickly does PSP progress?

Most cases of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy progress over five to seven years from the time of diagnosis.

  • Do PSP patients sleep a lot?

A common complaint in PSP is insomnia, or an inability to sleep.

  • How long can a person live with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy?

The average life expectancy of a patient with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy is about six to seven years from the diagnosis. 

  • What is the difference between Parkinson’s and Progressive Supranuclear 

Palsy?

PSP is a Parkinsonian disease — this means that there are several symptoms in common between PSP and Parkinson’s. However, PSP progresses much faster than Parkinson’s. In addition, PSP patients usually don’t exhibit tremors, which Parkinson’s patients nearly always do.

  • Is Lewy Body Dementia the same as PSP?

PSP and Lewy Body Dementia are both types of Non-Alzheimer’s Dementia. However, Lewy Bodies are detected in only about a tenth of PSP cases.

  • Can PSP cause Strokes?

PSP patients may have strokes, but it is very rare.

  • Is PSP similar to ALS?

PSP like ALS is a rare disease which is  also progressive. Both diseases gradually weaken the ability to move voluntarily and cause slurring of speech and trouble swallowing. 

  • What part of the brain is affected by PSP?

PSP affects multiple parts of the brain, including the Substantia Nigra, Basal Ganglia, Pars Reticulata, and Subthalamic Nucleus. All of these affect voluntary movement, coordination, eye movement, and swallowing.

In conclusion, while there is no cure for PSP at present, treatment options can help to alleviate the symptoms and prolong the patient’s lifespan. It is important, therefore, to get a prompt diagnosis and commence suitable treatment so that complications are avoided as much as possible.

What is the difference between Asperger’s and Autism: An Overview | Plexus

There is often debate around Asperger’s and Autism, where Asperger’s is confused to be just another form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Officially, Asperger’s has been classified under ASD since 2013. Many doctors and patients, however, prefer to abide by a separate Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis. In this article, we offer a brief guide on the difference between Asperger’s and Autism, as well as ways to treat these conditions.

Understanding ASD vs Asperger’s

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Children with Autism often have difficulty with processing sensory inputs, verbal and non-verbal communication, repetitive behaviors or movements, as well as difficulties with learning and problem-solving. As a result, their ability to interact socially and maintain relationships is impaired.

Asperger’s Syndrome was described in the 1940’s by the Austrian physician Hans Asperger while studying social and communication limitations, amongst boys with normal language abilities and intelligence. Previously considered just a ‘mild’ or ‘high-functioning’ form of Autism, it is now recognized as having its own unique symptoms. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome often prefer strict routines and to be left on their own. This may lead them to also have difficulty responding appropriately in social or emotional situations. As a result, they often have trouble maintaining friendships and relationships.

Difference between Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism

Asperger’s Syndrome is currently regarded as part of the Autism spectrum, with the main distinction being the presence of normal intelligence and language skills. However, many clinical professionals still give a separate Asperger’s diagnosis, and many people with the condition identify with Asperger’s rather than Autism. The main points of distinction when it comes to Autism Spectrum Disorder VS Asperger’s are as follows:

  • Autism tends to be diagnosed a lot earlier than Asperger’s, as the symptoms of Autism are much more severe and evident to other people. In many cases, children with Asperger’s may not be diagnosed until their teenage years or even adulthood, as they do not have obvious developmental delays.
  • While children with Autism often appear aloof and uninterested in interacting with others, children with Asperger’s often want to interact but lack the social skills to do so properly.
  • Children with Autism tend to exhibit speech and language delays. In contrast, children with Asperger’s have no such delays and, in fact, often have good language skills. However, they lack the ability to understand nuances such as non-verbal gestures, irony, sarcasm, or the give-and-take nature of most conversations. 
  • While children with Autism often display intellectual delays or disabilities, children with Asperger’s do not have such cognitive delays. Many children with Asperger’s, may be intellectually gifted.
  • The biggest point of difference between Asperger’s and Autism is that the symptoms of Asperger’s are much milder, to the point of not being noticeable. The average person may even assume that someone with Asperger’s is just a neurotypical person behaving somewhat differently. The symptoms of Autism are more visibly evident to the layperson.

Treatment for Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism

Neither of the two conditions can be cured completely. The treatment for Asperger’s VS Autism is quite similar, with a focus on teaching children social, behavioral, and emotional skills necessary for normal functioning. If your child has been displaying signs of developmental delay, the first step is to get the correct diagnosis. Once you understand the difference between Asperger’s and Autism, you can consult with the therapist to outline a treatment plan. Therapies common to both conditions include:

  • Relationship Development Intervention: This is a relatively new form of treatment that involves encouraging positive social behaviors in the child through active participation from parents. RDI focuses on building dynamic intelligence, which helps the child understand multiple perspectives and process change better. Ultimately, this enables children to form stronger personal and emotional connections.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This type of therapy defines triggers for various types of behavior. Children with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome can learn to recognize those triggers and modify their actions accordingly. This is especially effective in children with Asperger’s Syndrome, as they are able to articulate things better than children with more severe forms of Autism.
  • Developmental and Individual Differences Relationship (DIR) Therapy: Also known as floortime, this involves the therapist or caregiver literally getting down on the floor to play games that the child wishes to play.
  • Social Skills Training: This involves a variety of exercises, both one-on-one and in group settings, to enable the child to interact better with peers and teachers. It includes lessons on things like understanding non-verbal cues, taking turns in conversations, and exercising imagination in games and projects.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This is an up-and-coming way to treat ASD, by enabling the body to heal itself and stave off symptoms for longer. It is a safe and speedy form of treatment that uses the patient’s own cells (Autologous Treatment), so that there is no risk of infection or cell rejection.

In addition, certain treatments targeted towards children with Autism include:

  • Communication Intervention: This is especially useful for children who are non-verbal or have difficulty talking clearly. Therapists help them interact better with other people by teaching them through the use of cue cards, tablets, or other assistive methods.
  • Occupational Therapy: This focuses on helping children with ASD complete daily tasks, such as getting dressed or feeding themselves. The therapist will use a variety of games and fun exercises to make it easier for the child. This prepares them for a time where they may be living by themselves.

Children with either condition, moreover, should be given a healthy diet and taken for regular medical check-ups to guard against other illnesses. In addition, while some parents like to treat ASD with alternative therapies like herbal medicine, they should consult the doctor in advance.

FAQs

  • Which is worse, Asperger’s or Autism?
    When it comes to Asperger’s versus Autism, children with Asperger’s tend to have milder symptoms and display fewer developmental delays.
  • What are the five different types of Autism?
    The five main types of Autism Spectrum Disorder are Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Kanner’s Syndrome, Rett’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Development Disorder. 
  • What are the characteristics of a person with Asperger’s?
    People with Asperger’s may display symptoms such as talking endlessly about the same topic, standing too close to people or not making eye contact during conversation, or not noticing when someone else is speaking.
  • What are people with Asperger’s good at?
    People with Asperger’s often have average to high levels of intelligence. They have strong verbal skills, an extensive vocabulary, and the ability to retain large amounts of information on topics they are interested in.
  • What are the disadvantages of Asperger’s?
    When undetected or improperly treated, people with Asperger’s may suffer from isolation, difficulty forming connections or making friends, low self-confidence, social anxiety, and depression.
  • How does an Asperger’s mind work?
    A person with Asperger’s tends to focus more on details than on the big picture. Many of them think in terms of numbers, while others are more visual thinkers.
  • Can Asperger’s have empathy?
    It is a common misconception that people with Asperger’s do not have empathy. They care about the thoughts and feelings of other people, but they struggle to put themselves in other people’s shoes or to verbally offer empathy.
  • Can you develop Asperger’s or are you born with it?
    People who have Asperger’s are born with it, although the age of symptom detection and diagnosis may vary. Generally, there is no one cause behind someone developing Asperger’s, although genetic factors may play a role.
  • How do you know if an adult has Asperger’s syndrome?
    Adults who have Asperger’s may demonstrate social awkwardness such as difficulty maintaining eye contact, struggling to interpret gestures or non-verbal behaviors, and trouble keeping up a conversation.
  • Do patients with Asperger’s have good memory?
    Generally, people with Asperger’s display normal or above-normal levels of intelligence. This includes having strong recognition memory and verbal working memory, as well as the ability to learn by association.
  • Does Asperger’s get worse with stress?For someone with Asperger’s, the stress of having to meet people they do not know or participate in an environment they are not used to, can be taxing. This could lead to anxiety attacks or meltdowns.
  • What level of Autism is Asperger’s?
    Asperger’s Syndrome is generally classified as Level 1 or high-functioning Autism, where there is little need for support.
  • Can you have Autism and Asperger’s at the same time?
    Asperger’s is part of the Autism Spectrum, and as such is not a separate condition.
  • Is Asperger’s worse than ADHD?
    While both Asperger’s and ADHD are neurodevelopmental disorders, children with Asperger’s tend to have more trouble learning social skills and integrating into neurotypical society than those
  • Can Asperger’s also have Narcissism?
    Narcissism is a personality disorder that involves a spectrum, just like Autism. However, people with Narcissism are highly connected to their own feelings and are able to manipulate others to get what they want. People with Asperger’s cannot do this as they are less aware of feelings and what others are thinking.
  • Can Asperger’s go away?
    Asperger’s, and any form of Autism, has no cure. However, the correct treatment can help improve symptom management and enable patients to participate better in social situations and relationships.

How To Cure Autism: A Guide on Treatment options for Autism | Plexus

Learning that your child has been diagnosed with Autism can be  challenging. The good news, however, is that treatment for Autism has progressed significantly over time. While doctors have not yet discovered a cure for Autism, treatment options are consistently improving so that patients can have a chance at a productive, healthy life. Here, we talk about the various Autism cures and treatments that your child’s doctor may recommend, as well as useful lifestyle tips for raising a child with Autism.

Understanding Autism

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Children with Autism often have trouble following rules or communicating with others, which makes it hard for them to form relationships or fit into social situations like school. Some may also have trouble verbalizing their thoughts and needs. Treatment options include various kinds of therapy to help the child communicate and socialize better. Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, Speech Therapy, Stem Cell Therapy, and Social Skills Therapy are all useful forms of intervention.

Symptoms of Autism

Most symptoms of Autism are evident by the time the child is three years old. The CDC has identified certain developmental delays that could indicate Autism. While the occurrence of these delays do not necessarily mean that the child has the condition, parents should keep an eye out for indicators such as:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Avoiding displays of affection 
  • Not recognizing faces
  • Not responding to their name being called

As the child grows older and starts interacting with more people, these are common symptoms one may notice:

  • Inability to understand social cues, expressions, and non-verbal gestures
  • Refusing to take turns or share things with others
  • Unable to use gestures, such as pointing at things they want
  • Resistance to changes in schedule, especially unexpected ones
  • A preference to play alone
  • Delayed comprehension, speech, and sentences forming

Treatment options for Autism

The search for a cure for Autism continues, including research on how to detect and potentially avoid Autism during a pregnancy. There are, however, multiple treatment options that can significantly improve the symptoms and help with social integration. Depending on the child’s symptoms, therapists will recommend some or all of the following Autism cures and treatments:

  • Social Skills Training: This form of Autism cure involves teaching children the skills they need to participate in school activities and games with their peers. It teaches them to recognize social cues and follow the rules of various games, such as taking turns or sharing toys.
  • Sensory Integration Therapy: Often, children with Autism have Sensory Processing Disorders that can make it difficult for them to adjust to sensory inputs. The essential goal of Sensory Integration Therapy is to help the child moderate their responses to inputs that are overwhelming. It also helps them make sense of inputs they are hyposensitive to. Typically, therapists will recommend a tailored sensory diet to help the child process inputs without being over or under-stimulated. They will also recommend suitable sensory toys that caregivers can use to soothe the children in case of sensory overload / underload.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This is one of the most effective Autism cures and treatments for children with milder symptoms. Essentially, it defines triggers for various types of behavior, in a manner that children can recognize. They can then modify their actions accordingly. It teaches them to recognize that loud noises  often cause them to lose their temper, nudges them to leave the room, or put on noise-cancelling headphones.
  • Relationship Development Intervention (RDI): This form of Autism cure is relatively new, but yields promising results. Essentially, RDI focuses on building dynamic intelligence, which is what helps the child process information, cope with changes, and understand multiple perspectives. This enables children with Autism to control how they behave socially and how they express their feelings and needs. Therapists usually recommend that parents and children practice RDI together, so as to build stronger emotional connections.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This is an up-and-coming form of Autism cure that  improves the body’s immunity so as to keep Autism symptoms to a minimum. It is a safe and highly effective form of therapy, with each session lasting only a day or so.

In addition, it is crucial for parents to take their child with Autism for regular medical check-ups and maintain a healthy diet with all the essential nutrients.

How to take care of a child that has Autism

As a parent, looking after a child with Autism can pose unique challenges. While professional therapy is essential, there is also a lot that you can do for your child at home while also looking after yourself. Here are some tips on how to create a warm, positive environment for your child.

  • Help them feel loved: Children with Autism require as much love as any other child. Even if they seem resistant to physical affection, one needs to find ways to help them feel like they are loved and appreciated.
  • Stay informed on trends and treatments: Read up as much as you can about Autism and new forms of therapy that your child might respond to. Don’t hesitate to talk to a doctor about them.
  • Find a support group: Connecting with other parents of children with Autism can provide a sense of community. This is also an opportunity to learn about new parenting techniques that may help your child.
  • Make adjustments to the home environment: Take your child’s sensory triggers into account while designing your home environment. For instance, it might be a good idea to keep noise levels to a minimum and avoid bright colors that your child may react negatively to.
  • Have set routines in place: Provide your child with a routine for the day — set times to get ready for school, taking a bath, or eating a meal. In addition, discuss any changes in routine with them well in advance, and have a transition routine in place so that they can adjust better to the change.
  • Communicate kindly: Be as clear and direct as possible when communicating with your child. Give them enough time to process and respond to what you say, and encourage them to ask questions. Never display impatience or anger when explaining things to them.
  • Encourage positive behavior: Be open and enthusiastic in your praise whenever your child displays good behavior or picks up new skills
  • Stay in touch with the therapist: Ask as many questions as needed about how you can continue therapy practices at home to better reinforce the learnings.
  • Take time off when you need to: Rejuvenating at intervals will help you care for your child more effectively. Take the time out to catch up on sleep, pursue a hobby, or go out with friends.

FAQs

  • How do you stop Autism?
    There is no real way to prevent Autism in your child, as there is no single cause behind it. However, by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting vaccinated, and seeking treatment for any medical conditions during pregnancy, one can improve their chances of having a healthy child.
  • Does Autism worsen with age?
    Autism is a non-progressive condition, which means that it does not get worse with age. However, there is no cure for it either.
  • Can a child grow out of Autism?
    Autism is a lifelong condition, and children cannot grow out of it. However, with proper treatment they can learn to control their symptoms over time.
  • Can children with Autism go to a normal school?
    Most children with Autism will need special intervention that mainstream schooling systems cannot always provide. However, as children grow older and learn to manage their symptoms better, many of them may successfully transition into regular schools.
  • What happens if Autism is untreated?
    When children with Autism do not get proper treatment, they have trouble acquiring the social, behavioral, language, and emotional skills they need to navigate different environments. They will have trouble interacting with others and may be unable to perform adequately at school or the workplace.
  • Is Autism a disability?
    Yes, Autism is classified as a developmental disability caused due to impaired brain development.
  • What is Autism caused by?
    There is no single cause of Autism, and usually a mix of genetic and environmental factors are involved. Difficulties during pregnancy may also increase the chances of your child developing Autism.
  • What are the negatives of Autism?
    Children with Autism tend to have trouble getting along with other people and maintaining relationships. They also have trouble relating to others and expressing their emotions, which can lead to discord with family members and friends.
  • Does Autism get worse after age three?
    Some of the symptoms that may not have been evident at the age of three may become evident later, when the child starts attending school. With proper treatment, the symptoms of Autism can improve as the child grows older.
  • Can you take medicine for Autism?
    While there are no medications that specifically serve as a cure for Autism, there are medicines that can treat specific behavioral symptoms. For instance, some medications used to treat ADHD may be useful for children with Autism.
  • Which food groups are good for Autism?
    A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and vitamins will keep your child with Autism healthy. Autism often causes children to display food-avoidant behaviors, so ensuring they have enough nutrition is critical.
  • What’s the best treatment for Autism?
    A combination of Behavioral Therapy, Sensory Integration Therapy, and Social Skills Therapy will help children with Autism manage their symptoms and participate effectively in social situations.
  • What are the side effects of Stem Cell Therapy?
    Some of the common side effects of Stem Cell Therapy include nausea, vomiting, throat and mouth pain, risk of infection, bleeding, lung problems, and Graft-Versus-Host Disease.
  • How long does it take for Stem Cell Infusion  to have an effect on a person with Autism?
    In general, it takes about a month from the start of Stem Cell Therapy to notice a difference in symptoms.

Recovery Process of Spinal Cord Injury | Treatment & Recovery Stages | Plexus

Waking up in the hospital after an accident and being told that you’ve suffered a Spinal Cord Injury can be an overwhelming experience. A Spinal Cord Injury can lead to extensive and long-lasting loss of bodily functions. Recovery, however, is possible with time and the right treatment. Here, we offer a quick guide on recovery after Spinal Cord Injury, the various stages, and treatment options.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injury

A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) involves mutilation to the Spinal Cord that causes reversible or irreversible changes in its functions. Symptoms may include the loss of muscle function and sensation, or autonomic function in the parts of the body connected by the spinal cord — this may happen below the place of the injury. The most common causes of a Spinal Cord Injury involve accidents or violent impacts from physical activities. Treatment typically involves a tailored regenerative rehabilitation program that includes Stem Cell Therapy, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and other procedures as the doctor deems necessary. Depending on whether or not nerve signals are still capable of travelling through to other parts of the body, a Spinal Cord Injury may be incomplete or complete. Although a study of these cases show that, chances of Spinal Cord Injury recovery are better with an incomplete injury.

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury

When an individual has suffered serious head or neck trauma, the chances of a Spinal Cord Injury are high. It is essential to secure medical attention as quickly as possible to ensure a faster Spinal Cord Injury recovery. Symptoms include:

  • An oddly twisted head or neck
  • Loss of sensation in the limbs
  • Exaggerated reflexes in the limbs
  • Numbness or altered sensation 
  • A strong stinging sensation
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Difficulty with coughing or breathing
  • Extreme pain or pressure in the head or neck

However, symptoms might not always be obvious, therefore, it is vital to see a doctor as soon as the injury occurs.

Complications of Spinal Cord Injury

Much of the time, a Spinal Cord Injury can lead to secondary conditions. These arise from changes in the way organ systems function owing to nerve damage. Common complications that healthcare teams look out for include:

  • Pressure ulcers, especially in people who develop paralysis
  • Chronic pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Blood clots
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney infections
  • Autonomic dysreflexia
  • Respiratory conditions like pneumonia
  • Mental health conditions like depression
  • Sexual dysfunction

Doctors will typically prescribe separate treatment options to prevent or cure these secondary conditions.

Stages of Recovery after Spinal Cord Injury

The extent of recovery from a Spinal Cord Injury can vary greatly from patient to patient. In general, the first year after the injury is the most critical for determining how well the patient can recover. This is also when the risk of mortality is highest for the patient. Typically, one can expect to go through the following Spinal Cord Injury recovery stages:

  • First Stage: This is immediately after the injury occurs and when the patient is in hospital. The doctor will check that the patient is able to breathe normally and test for sensation and movement in the limbs. They will then stabilize the spine, if needed, and run tests such as a CT scan or MRI to assess the extent of the Spinal Cord damage.
  • Second Stage: This refers to the days and weeks following the initial stabilization, during which focus will be on minimizing damage and avoiding secondary complications as far as possible. This is also when the doctor starts planning long-term care for the patient depending on what their symptoms are.
  • Third Stage: This is the rehabilitation stage, which can last years, following the injury. Patients may be asked to come into the rehabilitation clinic every day or to live in a subacute rehabilitation center. The doctor and the caregivers will continually monitor for any complications as well as signs of improvement. In some cases, the doctor may conduct surgery to correct any deformities or internal injuries.
  • Fourth Stage: This involves continued rehabilitation after the initial critical period, during which the patient may make further improvements. In most cases, the patient will have to continue rehabilitation for several years. While some may show signs of Spinal Cord Injury recovery sooner, others may take years to get there.

Treatment Process for Spinal Cord Injury

At present, there is no way to reverse a Spinal Cord Injury, although there is ongoing research on how to enable nerve cell regeneration for better healing. Patients with a Spinal Cord Injury will typically need an extensive rehabilitation program that starts almost immediately after the injury has been stabilized. It can be difficult for a doctor to say right away how well a patient will recover. Steady treatment will certainly reduce the risk of further complications and improve functionality over time. The components of a Spinal Cord Injury treatment program include:

  • Physical Therapy: This involves exercises that rewire the nervous system to work around the injury and restore as much function as possible. The focus is on improving fine motor skills and strengthening the muscles.
  • Occupational Therapy: This involves training the patient to use a range of assistive devices to accomplish daily tasks, such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, specialized eating utensils, and communication devices.
  • Speech Therapy: This involves exercises to train the tongue and mouth muscles for proper speech and swallowing.
  • Vocational Therapy: This involves preparing the patient for re-integration into the workplace and social activities, while making adjustments for the Spinal Cord Injury.

Medication: The doctor can prescribe medication to assist with specific complications such as bladder / bowel problems or sexual dysfunction.

Living with Spinal Cord Injury

Patients who have suffered a Spinal Cord Injury may experience considerable impediments to their movement and may struggle to perform tasks normally. Some may require round-the-clock care with assistance for basic activities like eating and bathing. This can be extremely frustrating, but it is important to maintain hope and continue diligently with treatment. Some of the lifestyle choices patients can make to ease the recovery journey include:

  • Connecting with family and loved ones for emotional support
  • Seeking counseling to work through the pressure of recovery
  • Choosing a caregiver who is empathetic and understanding
  • Engaging in enjoyable activities such as going to the park or a favorite restaurant
  • Maintaining emotional wellness through outlets such as meditation, yoga, or acupuncture

FAQs

  • Are Spinal Cord Injuries permanent?
    An incomplete Spinal Cord Injury will typically improve over time, although a full recovery is rare. Complete Spinal Cord Injuries tend to be permanent.
  • Why are Spinal Injuries so serious?When the Spinal Cord is damaged, the nerves that convey messages from the brain to the rest of the body cannot work properly. This can lead to loss of sensation or movement below the site of the injury or even complete paralysis.
  • Can Spinal Cord Injuries affect the brain?Research shows that a Spinal Cord Injury can lead to sustained inflammation in the brain, which can damage the nerve cells and lead to cognitive and emotional decline.
  • How do Spinal Cord Injuries cause death?Spinal Cord Injuries lead to multiple complications that can potentially be fatal, such as a Pulmonary Embolism, Pneumonia, Septicemia, and diseases of the urinary tract.
  • Which medicine is best for the Spinal Cord?Medicines such as Corticosteroid Drugs are essential to reduce the inflammation immediately after a Spinal Cord Injury and prevent long-term damage as much as possible. Doctors may also conduct surgery as needed.
  • Can a Spinal Cord Injury get worse?In general, the pain and fatigue associated with movement after a Spinal Cord Injury can get worse over time. In particular, overused muscles from doing wheelchair transfers and manoeuvres can cause problems.
  • Why do Spinal Cord Injuries not heal?The scar tissue that forms after a Spinal Cord Injury, as well as certain molecular processes within the nerves, tends to inhibit the regeneration of the long nerve fibers. This means that a Spinal Cord Injury is nearly impossible to heal.
  • What are the top four causes of death in Spinal Cord patients?
    The most common causes of death in patients with a Spinal Cord Injury include Pneumonia, Heart Disease, Septicemia, and suicide.
  • What are the complications of Spinal Cord Injury?
    A Spinal Cord Injury can lead to various complications in multiple organ systems, including respiratory problems, Osteoporosis, pressure sores, urinary tract infections, chronic pain, and sexual dysfunction.
  • What is the most severe injury to the Spinal Cord?
    The most severe level of Spinal Cord Injury is a C1-C4 cervical Spinal Cord Injury. It leads to limited movement or even complete paralysis below the head and neck, as well as difficulty in breathing and speaking.
  • What are the worst back injuries?
    The most severe form of back injury is a fracture dislocation, in which the bones are broken and the ligaments are torn too, causing the bones to slide away from each other.

In conclusion, while the road to recovery after Spinal Cord Injury is a long one, it is important to stay positive and follow treatment recommendations exactly as the doctor prescribes. New treatments are being discovered every day and the support of loved ones can have a significant impact. Spinal Cord Injury patients, therefore, have a lot to be hopeful about.

Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

If you’ve been living with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis for a while, chances are you might experience Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. During this stage, you will no longer experience quite as many disease flare-ups, and symptoms may decline more steadily. Here, we offer a quick guide on what to expect with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and how you can manage your symptoms better.

Understanding Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. It is an Autoimmune Demyelinating Disease, which means the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues — in this case, the myelin or protective covering around nerve fibers. This leaves scarred tissues or lesions in multiple areas, disrupting electrical impulses throughout the body. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve impulses slow down or even stop, causing neurological problems.

Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis occurs as a second stage of the disease, after the patient has had Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis for some years. It is characterized by a gradual worsening of symptoms, along with fewer periods of inflammation (relapses) in the central nervous system. Patients are generally older at the time of onset and symptoms may be harder to deal with even if the relapses don’t occur anymore.

Symptoms of Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

In SPMS, the nature of the condition changes gradually from intermittent flare-ups caused by inflammation to a more steady disease progression, as the nerves become damaged. There may be periods during which symptoms remain steady, and even periods during which there are relapses. In general, SPMS manifests as an increase in the intensity of existing Multiple Sclerosis symptoms. Some Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis symptoms you might notice include:

  • Increased spasticity or stiffness in leg muscles 
  • Bladder / bowel issues
  • Increased fatigue
  • Coordination issues
  • Double vision or other vision problems 
  • Increased cognitive impairment

In addition, the patient may experience periods of remission from relapses during which symptoms tend to linger. 

Causes of Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

The exact cause of Multiple Sclerosis is unknown. A combination of genetic and environmental factors are usually held responsible. Studies show that between 50% and 90% of those with RRMS will develop SPMS within 25 years of onset. However, each individual case may progress at its own rate, and it is hard to tell exactly why RRMS shifts to SPMS when it does. Research indicates that it could be because of a lasting nerve injury that occurred in the early stages of the disease. Other known factors that increase your likelihood of getting SPMS include:

  • Having lived with RRMS for at least 15-20 years
  • Having had frequent and severe relapses
  • Having extensive nerve damage in the central nervous system

Research also suggests that SPMS affects Caucasian patients more than other ethnicities, and men more than women. 

Diagnosing Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Since the transition from RRMS to SPMS is a gradual one, it can be tough to diagnose. If the patient’s symptoms are getting worse, it is up to the doctor to determine whether this is the result of a flare-up or not. Typically, doctors will wait at least six months after the patient first comes in for a checkup before declaring SPMS. You may need to undergo multiple tests such as an MRI, a cerebrospinal fluid test, and a neurological exam. Generally, patients with SPMS will have no further lesions in their brain or on their MRI scans. It is important for the patient to relay exactly how and when symptoms become worse, as well as any new symptoms that come to light.This is so that the doctor can track how nerve damage has progressed.

Treatment for Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Depending on the rate of symptom progression and whether or not there are flare-ups, there are several options of medication to keep SPMS under control. There are also certain medications that can delay the onset of SPMS when taken during the RRMS stage. In addition, the doctor can prescribe medication to control specific symptoms, such as dizziness, bladder problems, depression, sleep problems, or pain.

Given that there can be periods of activity and non-activity in SPMS, patients should get a yearly neurological checkup. This will enable a decision on whether to go for more aggressive forms of treatment to avoid or mitigate a relapse. In addition, check-ups help to identify signs of disease progression and disability. Patients can then consider treatment options to improve functionality and maintain their independence.

Living with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

While patients might be relieved to have fewer flare-ups than before, it can be hard when their condition gradually declines. The doctor can prescribe a rehabilitative treatment program to maintain functionality and energy levels. This usually includes a combination of:

  • Physical Therapy: Focus is on the patient’s ability to move safely and with as much range of motion as possible. It typically focuses on strengthening exercises as well as stretches to relieve spasticity or tightness.
  • Occupational Therapy: Focus is on enabling the patient to complete as many daily activities as independently as possible, especially those related to eating, getting dressed, and moving around the house.
  • Speech Therapy: Multiple Sclerosis can impede the functioning of the muscles in the mouth and tongue. Speech Therapy can help the patient speak and swallow correctly.
  • Cognitive Therapy: Focus is on the patient’s ability to think, make decisions, and remember. There are several exercises that sharpen mental skills, especially when done over a period of time.
  • Vocational Therapy: Focus is on the patient’s occupation, and making adjustments to better suit a life with Multiple Sclerosis. Therapists can suggest modifications to the patient’s current job and workplace, or provide alternatives should the current job be too difficult or risky.

In addition, there are several general lifestyle adjustments patients can make to better their health, such as:

  • Getting enough exercise — cardio activity and strength training 
  • Eating a diet rich in fiber, green leafy vegetables, and lean protein 
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight 
  • Avoiding alcohol and tobacco 
  • Using aids to move around as necessary 
  • Sustaining emotional wellness through counselling, meditation, or yoga
  • Taking prescribed supplements — herbal treatments or prebiotics 

FAQs

  • How long do you live with Secondary Progressive MS?
    On average, the life expectancy for people with Multiple Sclerosis is about seven years shorter than the average lifespan.
  • Does Secondary Progressive MS cause death?
    Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis itself is not a fatal disease. However, patients may die of complications brought on by the condition, including respiratory distress from nerve damage in or around the lungs.
  • How quickly does SPMS progress?
    Studies have shown that about 90% of people with RRMS can expect to get SPMS within 25 years. However, this varies greatly depending on the individual and what treatment they are taking.
  • What is the difference between Relapsing Remitting MS and Secondary Progressive MS?
    Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis occurs as a second stage after RRMS. During RRMS, relapses occur more frequently, followed by periods of recovery. During SPMS, attacks happen less often, but recoveries are not quite as complete.
  • What is the most aggressive form of MS?
    There is a rapidly progressive version of Multiple Sclerosis known as Fulminate MS, in which relapses become severe as soon as five years after diagnosis. It is also known as Marburg MS or Malignant MS. The condition, however, is fairly rare.
  • Do steroids help MS relapse?
    While steroids do not play any role in your ultimate recovery from a relapse, they can help with faster recovery from the symptoms.
  • How long does end stage MS last?
    Most patients are diagnosed with MS between 20 and 50 years of age and live at least 25 to 35 years more. End-stage MS is not fatal in itself, although it can lead to disabilities stemming from worsening symptoms.
  • When should you go to the hospital for MS relapse?
    If your relapse causes severe symptoms such as greatly reduced mobility, pain, or vision loss, you may need to visit a hospital.
  • What are the four stages of MS?
    The four stages of Multiple Sclerosis are Clinically Isolated Syndrome, RRMS, SPMS, and PPMS.
  • How long does it take for MS to disable you?
    In advanced stages, Multiple Sclerosis can impact a patient’s quality of life significantly, including the ability to move around, speak, or eat. 

How To Treat Constipation In Parkinson’s Disease | Causes and Remedy

How To Manage Constipation In Parkinson's Disease

Living with Parkinson’s Disease can be difficult, given the impact it has on voluntary movement and mental health. In addition, with some people, constipation is a common complication of Parkinson’s Disease and can be frustrating to deal with on a regular basis. The good news, however, is that constipation is easy to resolve with the right treatment. Here, we offer a brief guide to what constipation looks like in Parkinson’s Disease patients, along with some tips on the best Parkinson’s constipation remedy for you.

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative conditions in the world. It primarily damages dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. Dopamine is a chemical involved in sending messages to the parts of the brain that control coordination and movement. Low dopamine levels, therefore, affect movement. The exact cause of Parkinson’s Disease is unknown, although it is often attributed to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Parkinson’s Disease has no cure, although treatments such as Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Stem Cell Therapy help to slow disease progression and keep symptoms in check. 

Constipation in Parkinson’s Disease

A symptom that patients with Parkinson’s Disease frequently have to deal with is constipation. This occurs when bowel movements become less frequent or harder to complete. Constipation, in fact, is one of the earliest symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and may occur even before muscle tremors or stiffness show up. Symptoms of constipation include:

  • Moving bowels fewer than thrice a week
  • Straining when moving bowels
  • Experiencing dry, hard stools
  • Feeling of incomplete bowel movement

While the occasional bout of constipation can be tolerated, patients with Parkinson’s Disease often experience chronic constipation that adversely affects quality of life.

Causes of constipation in Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease patients often experience improper functioning of the autonomic nervous system due to lowered dopamine levels. The autonomic nervous system regulates muscle activity in systems we do not voluntarily control, such as the circulatory system and the digestive tract. Disruptions to the autonomic nervous system could affect the way food moves through the intestinal tract, and lead to constipation. Several Parkinson’s Disease medicines may also cause a reduction in appetite or slow down bowel movements. In addition, patients who find it hard to chew or swallow may avoid eating fibrous foods that require more chewing, thus increasing the risk of constipation. Other possible culprits include:

  • Insufficient water intake
  • Excessive intake of dairy
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Resisting the urge to move bowels
  • Stress
  • A change in routine, such as travel 
  • Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or colorectal cancer

How to treat constipation in Parkinson’s Disease

Constipation requires prompt treatment, not only to alleviate the discomfort but also to guard against further complications such as bowel incontinence or urinary tract infections. If a Parkinson’s Disease patient is experiencing constipation, they should get medical advice promptly. The doctor will conduct a physical examination and take details of the patient’s medical history, which will help to rule out any other conditions that could be responsible for the constipation.

Parkinson’s constipation treatment typically involves dietary changes and a moderate exercise routine to promote good digestion. Some remedies that can help to avoid or alleviate constipation include:

  • Drinking 1.5 to 2 quarts of water and other fluids every day
  • Drinking warm liquids first thing in the morning
  • Limiting dehydrating beverages like tea, coffee, and alcohol
  • Avoiding caffeinated beverages as they increase dehydration
  • Eating plenty of fiber from sources like legumes, whole grains, and vegetables
  • Eating digestive stimulants like chia seeds, or bran
  • Having homemade vegetable soups
  • Eating smaller meals throughout the day 
  • Moving bowels whenever the patient feels the urge
  • Taking enough time to move bowels without rushing it
  • Exercising regularly
  • Using a mild laxative as prescribed
  • Getting an enema to alleviate severe constipation, if recommended
  • Pressing a warm washcloth against the abdomen or massaging it gently to relax the gut muscles

It is important to add dietary fiber gradually, as too much of it, too soon could lead to abdominal cramps and bloating. Patients should also immediately consult a doctor if:

  • There is blood in the stools
  • There is pain during bowel movement
  • The constipation has lasted more than 3 weeks
  • The patient is losing weight without intending to
  • Constipation is a new symptom

FAQs

  • What helps constipation from Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease patients can treat constipation by drinking warm liquids in the morning, drinking 2 to 4 extra glasses of water every day, and eating foods like bran cereal or prunes.

  • Why do Parkinson’s patients get constipated?

The autonomic nervous system that controls smooth muscle activity may be affected in Parkinson’s patients. When this happens, the intestinal tract fails to function normally, leading to constipation.

  • Which drug used to treat Parkinson’s Disease causes constipation?

Several Parkinson’s Disease medications can lead to constipation as a side effect. Anticholinergic medicines, like benztropine mesylate or trihexyphenidyl, and antidepressants like fluoxetine could be responsible.

  • Does Parkinson’s cause severe constipation?

Parkinson’s Disease patients often experience constipation as a symptom. However, it is not usually severe and can be managed by drinking enough water and adding fiber to the diet. 

  • Does Parkinson’s affect bowels?

Patients with Parkinson’s Disease are likely to have bladder and / or bowel trouble than other people their age. Constipation and reduced bowel movement are highly common.

  • What is the most effective medication for constipation?

There are several over-the-counter and prescription medicines that patients can consume for constipation. These include fiber supplements like psyllium, osmotics like milk of magnesia, stool softeners like Colace, and stimulants like Correctol.

  • How do you stimulate a bowel movement quickly?

Easy ways to induce a bowel movement within a few hours include taking a laxative or stool softener, taking a fiber supplement, eating a portion of a high-fiber meal or snack, drinking a glass of water, or doing some light exercise like jogging.

  • How do you permanently cure chronic constipation?

Chronic constipation can be cured permanently in most cases by eating more fiber, drinking more water, and exercising more. The patient can expect to see improvements within a few months.

  • What exercises relieve constipation?

Any form of cardio exercise that gets the blood flowing can relieve constipation. Patients can try walking briskly, jogging, running, cycling, or swimming. Yoga poses such as the supine twist or the matsyasana twist also stimulate the digestive tract and aid proper bowel movement.

  • What are the signs of a blocked bowel

Patients experiencing severe belly cramps, a gassy feeling without being able to pass gas, a feeling of fullness, and an inability to pass stool should see a doctor immediately to check for a blocked bowel.

  • What is the best position to poop when constipated?

Patients who have trouble passing stool on the toilet should sit with their knees higher than their hips, lean forward, place their elbows on their knees, relax, and bulge out their stomach.

  • How should you sleep to relieve constipation?

To relieve constipation, patients should sleep on their left side while placing a firm pillow between their knees and hugging another one to support the spine. Stool passes from the small intestine to the large intestine on the right side and then to the lower colon on the left side. Sleeping on the left side, therefore, encourages a bowel movement in the morning. 

  • Does walking help bowel movement?

Increased exercise such as walking, helps the natural movement of the intestinal tract that pushes stool forward and out. Patients looking for an easy Parkinson’s constipation treatment should consider taking walks of about 10 to 15 minutes.

  • How much water do you need to drink to relieve constipation?

Proper hydration is essential to the natural movement of the colon. Patients experiencing constipation should ensure that they drink at least 8 eight-ounce servings of water every day. Sipping on lemon water is also good for digestion and bowel movement, especially first thing in the morning.

  • How long is it safe to go without a bowel movement?

Everyone has a different rate at which they move their bowels. While some go once every 2 or 3 days, others may move their bowels a few times a day. In general, however, going 3 days or more without bowel movement causes the stool to harden, making it tougher to pass without discomfort.

  • How do you massage your stomach for constipation?

A quick Parkinson’s constipation remedy involves fisting the right hand and pressing it firmly into the abdomen above the hip bone and sliding it in a circular motion. The movement should start by going up to the ribs, across the belly, down to the hipbone, and back again. The motion should be repeated 10 times.

  • Does heat help constipation?

Heat in the form of a warm towel or hot-water bottle can relax the muscles in the gut and thus relieve constipation.

In conclusion, we see that, even if constipation is fairly common among Parkinson’s Disease patients, it doesn’t have to be a lifelong concern. Consult your doctor about the best Parkinson’s constipation remedy, make sure you are drinking plenty of water, and easier days are soon to come.

Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy: An Overview

Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy: An Overview

Watching their child learn to move about, grab things, and play on their own are few of the greatest joys for a parent. If your child is unable to reach these milestones, it can cause immense distress. Cerebral Palsy is a neurological condition that inhibits movement and muscle development, and can affect a single limb, or even the entire body. Early diagnosis and intervention can go a long way in maximizing your child’s functionality and independence. Here, we offer an introduction to Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and how it can be treated.

Understanding Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and motor skills caused by damage or abnormalities in the developing brain. While the exact cause of Cerebral Palsy is often hard to pinpoint, trauma sustained during birth, genetic mutations, and infant infections can all be causes. Cerebral Palsy is non-progressive and has no ultimate cure. However, the right treatment goes a long way in managing symptoms and maximizing range of motion.

Cerebral Palsy can be categorized on the basis of the site of brain injury and it’s severity. Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy occurs when the injury causes the patient to lose voluntary control over the entire body. It is the most severe type of Cerebral Palsy, and patients usually have limited movement ability throughout their life. Because spasticity is one of the dominant symptoms of this type of Cerebral Palsy, it is also known as Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy.

Symptoms of Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy

The symptoms of Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy tend to be more severe than those of other types of Cerebral Palsy. Some of them can manifest as early as two or three months after birth, although it can be difficult to conclude on a diagnosis so soon. Signs that parents should keep an eye out for include:

  • Retention of primitive reflexes past the appropriate age
  • Unusual stiffness in the limbs
  • Deformities such as an unusually short limb
  • Inability to raise the head
  • Poor feeding
  • Drooling
  • Poor coordination
  • Reduced weight

As the child grows, the symptoms become more obvious, and can include:

  • Muscle tightness
  • Joint stiffness
  • Rapid muscle contraction and release
  • Poor balance
  • Chronic pain
  • Inability to walk or unusual gait 
  • Muscle tremors
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Speech / language disabilities
  • Sleep disorders
  • Vision / hearing problems
  • Seizures

Causes of Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy

Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy is the result of severe brain damage sustained during pregnancy, at birth, or shortly after birth. The damage can occur in either the motor cortex or in the pyramidal tracts that connect the motor cortex to the spinal cord. In many cases this is the result of genetic mutations, particularly if a close relative also has Cerebral Palsy. Other Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy causes and risk factors include:

  • Holes or lesions in the white matter of the brain during weeks 26 – 34 of gestation
  • Fetal strokes due to poorly formed blood vessels or blood clots in the placenta
  • Exposure to toxins during pregnancy or after birth
  • Loss of oxygen to the infant’s brain
  • Premature birth
  • Breech birth
  • Incompatible blood type between the mother and fetus
  • Head trauma shortly after birth
  • Severe jaundice in the first few weeks after birth

Some of these can be avoided if doctors keep monitoring the expectant mother and treating any medical issues as soon as they arise.

Complications of Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy

While Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy is not fatal in itself, it comes with a variety of complications that can significantly affect overall health and may even be potentially life-threatening. Seizures commonly occur in children with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, as do painful muscle contractures. Other complications include:

  • Limb deformities: The constant pulling of spastic muscles on the bones and joints can permanently deform limbs over time
  • Scoliosis: About a quarter of Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy develop a curvature of the spine or other spinal problems
  • Lower limb and ankle deformities: Potential complications include conditions like ankle equinus, which limits ankle flexion
  • Osteoporosis: Limited motor control and joint and muscle deformities can increase the risk of osteoporosis or osteoarthritis over time
  • Cognitive disabilities: Given the severity of the brain injury, patients may have lifelong cognitive and learning disabilities
  • Bladder / bowel disorders: Spastic Quadiplegic Cerebral Palsy patients are highly prone to constipation and / or bladder incontinence
  • Malnutrition: Difficulty controlling the facial muscles can impede swallowing abilities, which can cause malnutrition due to insufficient food intake. It can also cause respiratory problems if the food goes down the wrong way.

Diagnosing Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy

The best way to diagnose Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy early is by taking your child for a developmental screening. The doctor will typically observe your child’s movements, with emphasis on their posture, muscle tone, and reflexes. They will inquire about symptom progression, and may run blood tests to rule out any other causes. The most common methods of diagnosis include a cranial ultrasound and an MRI. Given that the symptoms of Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy are highly pronounced, a diagnosis can usually be given within the first year of life.

Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy treatment

Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy is generally associated with a shorter lifespan and lower quality of life than other kinds of Cerebral Palsy. However, there are various treatment options that can keep the patient as mobile and healthy as possible. Stem Cell Therapy, Stem Cell Nutritive Therapy, and various medications have been demonstrated to improve symptoms to a large extent. Typically, doctors will draw up a multi-pronged treatment plan for Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy that includes:

  • Physiotherapy: With an aim to help children with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy be as mobile as possible, Physiotherapy involves various stretching and flexibility exercises to improve the range of motion, while minimizing pain. Older children may also benefit from strengthening exercises to target weak muscles and improve functionality. Therapists will typically introduce games and toys into the exercises to make it more fun for the child. 
  • Occupational Therapy: This focuses on enabling the child to complete daily activities on their own as much as possible. Therapists help the child enhance muscle control and coordination in their fingers and hands, so that they can perform tasks involving fine motor skills.
  • Speech Therapy: This helps with oral articulation and muscle control to enable speech and ensure proper swallowing. The focus is on improving coordination in the mouth and tongue for safe eating and better pronunciation. Speech therapists also help children communicate through assistive devices if they cannot speak, which helps them function better at school and other places.
  • Assistive devices: Children with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy will typically require aids to move around, complete tasks, and communicate effectively. Motorised wheelchairs and communication devices are among the commonly prescribed items.
  • Surgery: Targeted surgeries to correct dislocated joints, shortened muscles, or other deformities can reduce impairment for children with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy.

FAQs

  • What is the most severe form of Cerebral Palsy?

The most severe form of Cerebral Palsy is Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, which affects the face, the trunk, and all four limbs.

  • Can a person with Spastic Quadriplegia walk?

In general, patients with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy are unable to walk. However, they may learn to navigate independently in a motorised wheelchair. 

  • What are the 5 types of Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy can be classified into 5 types, namely spastic, ataxic, hypotonic, athetoid, and mixed. Each of these can be further classified depending on how severe the symptoms are.

  • What famous person has Cerebral Palsy?

Some famous people who have cerebral palsy include the Miss USA contestant Abbey Nicole Curran, the comedian Josh Blue, the artist Dan Keplinger, and the actor RJ Mitte.

  • Do Cerebral Palsy affect intelligence?

About one in two people with Cerebral Palsy have an intellectual disability of some sort. The greater the severity of the Cerebral Palsy, the higher the chance of an intellectual disability.

  • Can Cerebral Palsy affect the eyes?

Vision problems are quite common among children with Cerebral Palsy. Some of the problems that might occur include strabismus (turned eye), cataracts, amblyopia (lazy eye), and nystagmus (involuntary eye movements).

  • Can someone with Cerebral Palsy drink alcohol?

Patients with Cerebral Palsy can occasionally drink alcohol just like anyone else. However, taking additional precautions to guard against losing balance or muscle spasms is advisable.

  • Someone with Cerebral Palsy have a baby?

Typically, Cerebral Palsy does not affect the patient’s ability to have a baby. Infertility, if it occurs, is not a symptom of Cerebral Palsy.

  • Is Cerebral Palsy mental retardation?

Some children with Cerebral Palsy have mental retardation. Generally, the more severe the Cerebral Palsy, the greater the retardation.

  • Is Cerebral Palsy physical or mental?

Cerebral Palsy is a primarily physical condition that affects movement, posture, and muscle control. However, up to half of all children with Cerebral Palsy will experience some degree of mental impairment.

  • At what age does Cerebral Palsy appear?

The average age for a formal cerebral palsy diagnosis is about two years. However, several symptoms can appear as early as a few months of age. The symptoms of Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, in particular, become prominent in the first few months.

  • How can you tell if someone has Cerebral Palsy?

Signs that someone has Cerebral Palsy include abnormal gait or posture, shortened limbs, muscle spasms, slight limping, or continuous bending at the knees.

  • Does CP get worse with age?

Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive disease, which means that the severity does not change over time. However, additional complications may crop up as the patient grows older.

  • Is Cerebral Palsy a form of autism?

While both Cerebral Palsy and Autism originate in the brain, Cerebral Palsy affects movement and muscle coordination while Autism affects social and behavioral abilities.

  • What is Palsy called today?

Palsy is a blanket term for a category of diseases that affect voluntary movements, leading to tremors and / or stiffness.

  • Is Cerebral Palsy curable?

Cerebral Palsy has no cure, although treatment and medication can keep the symptoms under check to a large degree.

  • Is Palsy the same as paralysis?

Palsy refers to a variety of conditions that include paralysis, as well as weakness, and / or uncontrolled movements. However, paralysis specifically refers to the total loss of nerve function.

Life can be tough when living with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, but treatment and assistive devices can make it much easier. As a parent, be sure to give your child plenty of love and support as they navigate this condition. With your care, as well as tailored Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy treatment, the child can reach their maximum potential.

Childhood Anxiety Disorders: An Overview

Childhood Anxiety Disorders: An Overview

Every child will have the occasional attack of stage fright or a phase when they might fear monsters under their bed. If these continue to happen regularly for years on end however, it might be time to take a closer look. Anxiety in children can be debilitating for their social life and affect their performance at school, while increasing the risk of poor mental health. With the right treatment however, children can learn to control the symptoms and gain more confidence. Here, we offer a quick guide to what childhood anxiety disorders look like and how to treat them.

Understanding Childhood Anxiety Disorders

Childhood anxiety disorders are conditions that cause excessive fear and worry in children and negatively impact their behaviour, moods, and sleep patterns. Such disorders can affect their interactions and activities at home and school, and cause physical symptoms like dizziness or shortness of breath. Some of the common types of childhood anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder:

    This causes children to worry excessively about ordinary things like homework and tests, as well as other things like recess, riding the bus, illness, wartime, or losing a loved one. Children with this disorder often have trouble focusing in class or sleeping well, as well as trouble relaxing or having fun, even when doing things they like.

  • Social anxiety disorder:

    This causes children to feel extreme anxiety about what others will say or think about them. They may try to avoid being the centre of attention at any cost and will typically have trouble answering in class or being called upon to present an assignment. Children with social anxiety disorder may complain of dizziness, lightheadedness, or shortness of breath before going to school or to meet others.

  • Separation anxiety disorder:

    This causes children to feel excessively anxious about being away from their parents or caregiver. They may refuse to go to school, playdates, or other social settings, and may cry or pretend to feel sick if they are compelled to go. 

  • Selective mutism:

    This is an extreme form of social anxiety that makes children unable to talk in social settings. However, this doesn’t mean that children never talk, simply that they can only talk at home or around people they are comfortable with.

  • Panic disorder:

    This is more common in adolescents than in young children. It involves sudden anxiety attacks that cause shortness of breath, lightheadedness, a racing heart-rate, and feeling jittery.

  • Phobias:

    A phobia is an extreme and lasting fear of the dark, thunderstorms, insects, blood, needles, or other things. While it is normal for children to feel afraid of certain things, a phobia involves strong terror that inhibits the child’s normal activity. For instance, a child afraid of needles may refuse to go to the doctor altogether, and may panic even when seeing needles on TV.

Cause of Childhood Anxiety Disorders

There is often no clear-cut reason behind anxiety in children. Circumstances that could make one child anxious could leave another child unfazed. Some possible causes of childhood anxiety disorders include:

  • Brain chemistry: Conditions or genetics that inhibit the way neurotransmitters work could lead to heightened emotion and anxiety
  • Family history: Children with immediate family relatives who have had an anxiety disorder are more likely to have one too
  • Learned behaviour: Children growing up in a family where everyone is anxious or ‘on edge’ all the time may pick up those behaviours
  • Life situations: The death of a loved one, serious illness, parents’ divorce, abuse, or bullying can lead children to develop anxiety disorders

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders in Children

The most common form of treatment that doctors will prescribe is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This teaches children, that what they think and do impacts the way they feel; and helps them mentally rewire anxiety-inducing situations so as to feel less anxious. Children also learn coping skills to assist them in stressful situations, such as giving a speech at school or entering a dark room. In addition, parents can help in several ways, such as:

  • Learning practical tips to help the child face their fears better at home
  • Praising children for efforts they make to overcome their anxiety
  • Encouraging children to talk openly about their feelings of fear or worry
  • Listening whenever children want to share
  • Demonstrating love and patience

Childhood anxiety disorders can be stressful for both children and their parents to deal with. However, by consulting a doctor for anxiety disorders in children, you will be equipped with the right therapy program and lifestyle tools to help your child overcome their fears. Over time, your child will regain confidence in their daily life and be just as happy and lively as any of their peers.

What Are The Signs Of ADHD In Children?

What Are The Signs Of ADHD In Children?

Every child is fidgety or forgetful sometimes. However, when children are perpetually inattentive or fidgety, it could indicate an underlying problem. ADHD is a fairly common neurodevelopmental condition that is often overlooked, largely because it can be mistaken for bad behaviour or indiscipline. By keeping an eye out for it, parents can secure treatment for their children early on and save them many years of stress and guilt. Here, we offer a quick guide on the signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Understanding ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that manifests in early childhood. It affects the patient’s ability to control their spontaneous responses, and leads to behaviours such as inattentiveness, inability to follow instructions, a dislike of routine, and a tendency to blurt out remarks. In many cases, children with ADHD also display hyperactive behaviour. 

Symptoms of ADHD

A few instances of inattention are nothing to worry about, but consistent symptoms displayed at school and at home over a long period of time, warrant a closer look. Children with ADHD are likely to appear tuned out or bored when expected to follow a routine or complete tasks that they do not like. Some ADHD symptoms that may keep recurring include:

  • Appearing demotivated and ‘spaced out’
  • Trouble paying attention to anyone task for too long
  • Jumping from one activity to another or skipping steps in longer procedures
  • Difficulty completing projects, especially ones that they perceive as boring
  • Trouble concentrating in a noisy environment
  • Difficulty following instructions or remembering things like chores
  • Difficulty organising personal space and planning ahead for things like homework
  • Tendency to fidget when expected to stay still
  • Tendency to misplace personal items
  • Hyperactivity, such as moving around or fidgeting constantly or talking too much

Here, however, it is important to mention that hyperactiveness is not always present in ADHD. Many children are quiet and well-behaved but simply inattentive and apparently uninterested. Such children often have a tougher time, as teachers may mistake this behaviour for indiscipline and may reprimand them. They may also have trouble performing group activities or playing games by the rules, with other children. 

Diagnosing ADHD

It is understandable for parents to feel overwhelmed or even frustrated about their child’s ADHD symptoms. However, this is precisely why getting a diagnosis as soon as possible is so vital. Children are well aware of it when their parents are upset with them, and are likely to feel guilty and angry at themselves for causing that upset, which could lead to further behavioural issues.

The doctor can also identify if any other conditions or circumstances could be responsible for the symptoms. These include:

  • Behavioural problems such as an attachment disorder
  • A learning disability like Dyslexia
  • Trauma from major incidents like a death in the family or parents’ divorce
  • Psychological disorders like depression or anxiety
  • Medical conditions like sleep disorders, thyroid problems, or epilepsy

Treatment for ADHD

There is no complete cure for ADHD, but treatment can help children manage their impulsive or inattentive behaviour, particularly when they are in social settings. Most doctors will prescribe therapy of various kinds, including:

  • Behaviour Therapy, most prominently behaviour management, which teaches good behaviour and manners through rewards for completion and progress
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which teaches children how to rethink their attitude to a situation and thus modify their behaviour
  • Parent training programs, which teaches specific ways to talk to and play with children so as to enable positive behaviour in them
  • Social Skills Training, which uses role-play to teach children how to behave in social settings
  • Psychoeducation, which involves both children and their parents talking about ADHD so as to properly come to terms with it

Another aspect that a good therapist will focus on, is teaching children with ADHD to harness their behaviour to their advantage. The tendency to think about multiple things at the same time could make for excellent idea generation or problem solving, if applied correctly. Various cognitive exercises can enable children to use this productively, improving their performance at school and enhancing their confidence.

It can be easy to mistake ADHD symptoms as simply bad behaviour or laziness, but it is important for parents to remember that their children cannot always help their condition. Therefore, parents should seek a diagnosis for their child and commence appropriate treatment, rather than scolding or punishing their child. The earlier the intervention, the better children can learn to manage the symptoms, which will benefit them greatly in adult life.

ADHD Or Autism: What Does My Child Have?

ADHD Or Autism: What Does My Child Have?

If you see your child having trouble coping with school activities and displaying impulsive behavior, it is only natural to wonder what they are dealing with. Both ADHD and Autism are neurodevelopmental conditions that affect social interactions and make things like schoolwork, or maintaining friendships, that much harder. The two conditions, however, are entirely distinct and require different forms of treatment to maximize the child’s potential. Here, we offer a quick guide to the difference between ADHD and Autism.

Understanding ADHD and Autism

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental conditions among children around the world. Its chief symptom is inattention, along with a tendency to daydream and be restless. While some amount of inattentiveness and restlessness may be normal, children with ADHD are unable to overcome these traits on their own even when they get older. Children also tend to be overtly active, to the point of doing reckless things or acting without thinking their actions through.

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Children with Autism often have trouble with verbal and nonverbal communication, as well as heightened sensitivity to sounds, smells, or colors. Since it is a spectrum disorder, no two children’s symptoms are exactly alike. Treatment for Autism can involve a combination of Stem Cell Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, Social Skills Therapy, and Occupational Therapy.

ADHD vs Autism: Telling them apart

There are several things that ADHD and Autism have in common. In fact, a child may even have both ADHD as well as Autism. Medical specialists continue to research the overlap between the conditions, with current estimates showing that 30-50% of children with Autism also have symptoms of ADHD. Some of the symptoms that a child with either condition might display include: 

  • Difficulty understanding and responding to social cues
  • Difficulty paying attention to what people are saying
  • Tendency to fidget or interrupt during conversations
  • Tendency to do impulsive or apparently illogical things
  • Difficulty following instructions or rules
  • Meltdowns and/or tantrums
  • Sensitivity to sensory inputs like sounds or smells

There are, however, distinct symptoms that set each condition apart. When trying to determine between ADHD and Autism as an explanation for your child’s behavioral tendencies, keep the following in mind.

  • Adherence to routine:

    Children with Autism tend to prefer the same routine day in and day out, be it their school schedule or their meals, and may react negatively to any change. Children with ADHD, on the other hand, usually find it difficult to adhere to routine of any kind.

  • Focus on tasks:

    Children with Autism may focus for hours on tasks or activities that they enjoy while avoiding the ones they don’t. On the other hand, children with ADHD tend to have trouble focusing on anything for too long, regardless of whether they like it or not.

  • Conversation:

    Children with Autism may struggle to express what they are feeling verbally, and tend to have lower social awareness about things like emotions or body language. Children with ADHD do not usually have trouble expressing themselves. Instead, they may talk non-stop, to the point of interrupting other people or trying to monopolize the talk.

  • Personal connections:

    Children with Autism may have trouble making eye contact, may resist physical affection such as cuddling, and either not understand or show no interest in understanding other people’s feelings. Children with ADHD do not have trouble with these things. However, their fidgety behavior and tendency to interrupt may make it harder to form friendships.

  • Age of appearance:

    Symptoms of Autism will usually show up by the time a child is 5 years old, and may even appear as early as 2-3 years of age. Symptoms of ADHD, however, may not be noticeable until much later, often when the child is as old as 10-12 years.

If you suspect that your child may have either ADHD or Autism, it is essential to take them for a check-up as soon as possible. The doctor may observe the child’s behavior and collect feedback from you and other caregivers and teachers, either verbally or through formal surveys. Then, once you have a diagnosis, your child can start tailored treatment as recommended by a therapist. Above all, remember that your child deserves patience, support, and demonstrations of love, just like any other child. This will enable them to do their best and keep adjusting better every day, while remaining their unique selves.

Plexus Neuro and Stem Cell Research Centre have solutions that will get your child smiling again with confidence. If you have any questions or are looking for Autism or ADHD treatment, we are here to help! All you have to do is give us a <a href=”tel: +9189048 42087”>call</a> or schedule an appointment with us today.

What Are The Different Types Of Motor Neuron Disease?

What Are The Different Types Of Motor Neuron Disease?

Receiving a diagnosis of Motor Neuron Disease can be a tough moment. A progressive condition that has no cure, it affects the ability to make voluntary movements, significantly hampering daily functionality and overall fitness. However, with adequate knowledge, patients can act quickly to obtain a diagnosis, and commence the best MND treatment in Bangalore. Here, we offer a quick guide to the various kinds of Motor Neuron Disease one might have.

Understanding Motor Neuron Disease

Motor Neuron Diseases are a group of neurodegenerative disorders that selectively affect motor neurons, the cells which control all the voluntary muscles of the body. Voluntary muscles are responsible for performing movements under one’s will. Treatment options for Motor Neuron Disease include Stem Cell Therapy, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy

Types of Motor Neuron Disease

There are two kinds of neurons in the body – the upper motor neurons in the brain, and the lower motor neurons in the spinal cord. Both control movements in different parts of the body. Doctors classify types based on which neurons have been affected. We can discuss the main types of Motor Neuron Disease as follows.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

This is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and is the most common form of Motor Neuron Disease. It affects both the upper and the lower motor neurons. Patients with ALS experience difficulty speaking, swallowing, walking, and breathing as the muscles become progressively weaker. They may also experience muscle cramps or twitches. ALS mostly affects people between the ages of 40 and 60. Typical survival time is 3 – 5 years after the diagnosis, although many patients live much longer.

Progressive Bulbar Palsy (PBP)

This is a type of ALS in which the motor neurons at the brain stem are affected. Many patients with PBP, in fact, go on to develop ALS. PBP causes slurred speech and trouble with chewing and swallowing. It also affects the ability to control emotions, which means that the patient may cry or laugh without reason.

Pseudobulbar Palsy

This is similar to PBP in that the ability to speak, chew, and swallow is impacted. Here too, patients may laugh or cry uncontrollably.

Primary Lateral Sclerosis

This is similar to ALS in terms of symptoms, namely poor balance and coordination, weakness in the limbs, trouble walking, and slurred speech. However, it affects only the upper motor neurons. Unlike ALS, it is not fatal, though the muscles do get weaker as the disease progresses.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy

This is an inherited form of Motor Neuron Disease that occurs due to a defect in the SMN1 gene. It primarily affects the lower motor neurons and causes weakness in the legs, trunk, and arms. Depending on when symptoms first manifest, Spinal Muscular Atrophy has four subtypes. These include:

  • Type 1: This is also known as Werdnig-Hoffman disease. It affects children around 6 months of age. Symptoms include an inability to lift their head or sit up without support, poor reflexes, poor muscle tone, and difficulty breathing and swallowing.
  • Type 2: It manifests between 6 and 12 months of age. Children are able to sit, but cannot stand or walk without support. Breathing trouble may also be experienced.
  • Type 3: This is also known as Kugelberg-Welander disease. It affects children between 2 and 17 years of age, and often leads to spine curvature or shortened muscles. Patients have difficulty standing, walking, running, and climbing stairs.
  • Type 4: It manifests after the age of 30 and mostly affects the muscles in the upper arms and legs. Symptoms include tremors, twitches, muscle weakness, and difficulty breathing.

Progressive Muscular Atrophy

This is one of the rarer types of Motor Neuron Disease. It affects primarily the lower motor neurons, with muscle weakness starting in the hands and then spreading to other parts of the body. This condition may develop into ALS over time. Progressive Muscular Atrophy can be inherited or sporadic.

Kennedy’s Disease

This is an inherited form of Motor Neuron Disease that affects only men, although women can be carriers. Patients display symptoms such as difficulty with speaking and swallowing, weakness in the face and limbs, hand tremors, and muscle cramps. They may also have a reduced sperm count and enlarged breasts.

Living with any of these types of Motor Neuron Disease can be hard, but appropriate treatment and lifestyle adjustments can significantly improve the quality of your life. Getting a prompt diagnosis on which type you have will enable you to benefit from the best MND treatment in Bangalore much sooner and maximize functionality. 

If you have any questions or are looking for a motor neuron specialist, Plexus Neuro and Stem Cell Research Centre is here to help! All you have to do is give us a <a href=”tel: +9189048 42087”>call</a> or schedule an appointment with us today.

Regenerative Rehabilitation For Spinal Cord Injury: An Introduction

Regenerative Rehabilitation For Spinal Cord Injury: An Introduction

The road to recovery after a Spinal Cord Injury can be long and challenging. Depending on the extent of damage, a Spinal Cord Injury can lead to loss of voluntary function in some or all limbs and organ systems. While it was deemed incurable for a long time, recent research has demonstrated the potential of Regenerative Rehabilitation to reverse the effects of a Spinal Cord Injury. Here, we take a closer look at what that means.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injury

A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is mutilation to the spinal cord that causes reversible or irreversible changes in its function. Symptoms may include loss of muscle function, sensation, or autonomic function in the parts of the body supplied by the spinal cord below the level of the injury. Spinal Cord Injury often occurs due to vehicular or sporting accidents and affects mainly people between the ages of 16 and 30.

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury

The severity of the symptoms of an injury depends on where the injury occurred and how serious the impact is. If someone has suffered trauma to the head or neck, it is essential to get a check-up for a Spinal Cord Injury as soon as possible. Potential warning signs include:

  • Twisted or awkwardly bent back or neck
  • Numbness, tingling, or loss of movement in the limbs
  • Difficulty with coughing or clearing mucus from the throat and / or lungs
  • Loss of bladder / bowel control
  • Loss of sensation to heat and cold
  • Exaggerated reflexes
  • Pain or stinging sensation in the head and / or neck
  • Impaired breathing

Regenerative Rehabilitation for Spinal Cord Injury

When an injury occurs, the spinal cord changes at the cellular and molecular level such that axonal regeneration is affected. After initial symptoms such as inflammation and haemorrhage, scar tissue builds up at and around the site of the injury. Doctors do not yet fully know how and why these changes occur, only that such changes reduce the regenerative capacity of the central nervous system to almost nil. Owing to this, making a full recovery from a Spinal Cord Injury is practically impossible. 

Over the last decade, however, several clinical trials have demonstrated the efficacy of regenerative therapies such as Stem Cell Therapy, stem cell nutritive therapy, immune engineering, and nanotechnology for Spinal Cord Injury. These primarily target the secondary or chronic stages of the Spinal Cord Injury, as treatment at the acute stage is practically difficult to execute in a clinical setting. The objective is to promote axonal regeneration and improve neuroprotection following the injury, thus avoiding cell death in the central nervous system. Some of the targets for Regenerative Rehabilitation include:

  • Accumulated myelin debris at the secondary stage
  • Accumulated extracellular amino acids at the site of the injury
  • The protein tyrosine phosphatase σ (PTPσ), which leads to build-up of scar tissue

In particular, doctors are optimistic about cellular regeneration as a treatment option. They are using ‘next-generation’ stem cells that have been created from induced pluripotent stem cells. Being autologous, the risk of rejection by the patient’s body and the need for immunosuppression will no longer exist. Moreover, these stem cells can potentially be engineered to specifically target neural regeneration, such as by expressing certain growth factors or enzymes that will break down scar tissue in the spinal cord.

While much research still needs to be done to optimize these techniques for routine clinical use, they have delivered promising results in small-group settings. As they evolve, they could be used in conjunction with acute treatment to promote neural regeneration and even reverse the injury.

Other forms of treatment for Spinal Cord Injury

There are several forms of treatment that can improve functionality and keep complications at bay. The best treatment for Spinal Cord Injury involves a combination of:

In short, a Spinal Cord Injury can lead to serious and even permanent loss of function in many cases. Regenerative Rehabilitation in Bangalore offers a ray of hope in this regard, particularly when administered in a targeted manner as soon as possible after the injury. In addition, patients can benefit from Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy to improve their mobility and independence.

An Introduction To Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

relapsing-remitting-multiple-sclerosis-an-overview

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune condition caused due to damage in the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS controls all movement in the body, which is why Multiple Sclerosis leads to movement disorders in the limbs, eyes, and other organs. The severity of the condition and the exact symptoms differ from person to person. There are, however, four main categories into which MS can be subdivided. Here, we offer an introduction to Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, the most common type of Multiple Sclerosis, and what to expect when getting a diagnosis for it.

Understanding Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. It is an autoimmune demyelinating disease, which means the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues — in this case, the myelin or protective covering around nerve fibers. This leaves scarred tissues or lesions in multiple areas, disrupting electrical impulses throughout the body. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve impulses slow or even stop, causing neurological problems.

In Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, patients experience flare-ups during which their symptoms intensify, followed by periods of remissions that could last several months. Most cases of MS are Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. The disease affects people between the age of 20 and 40, and women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with it as men.

Risk Factors for Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

The exact cause of MS is currently unknown, usually attributed to a mix of environmental and genetic factors. Some of the risk factors that scientists have identified include:

  • The presence of dormant infections such as the Epstein-Barr Virus or Human Herpes Virus-6 
  • Having a sibling or parent with MS
  • Being a woman
  • Low vitamin D levels
  • Exposure to organic solvents like benzene 
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Obesity
  • Hailing from Northern Europe

Symptoms of Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

No two individuals experience Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis the same way. Many of the early signs and symptoms of Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis are quite mild, which is why they often go unnoticed or are attributed to other causes. Some of the initial warning signs may include:

  • Numbness and tingling in the hands or feet
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Mild electric shock sensation when the neck is bent forward (Lhermitte’s sign)
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Loss of vision in one eye or both eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Depression
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Spasticity in movement
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Trouble with thinking, processing information, and remembering facts

These symptoms also manifest during the relapse periods.

Diagnosing Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

In Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, each flare-up of symptoms must last at least 24 hours. If you have been experiencing flare-ups like this involving two or more of the above mentioned symptoms, it is important to get a check-up. Your doctor will ask you detailed questions about your symptoms as well as your medical history, and conduct a full physical examination to rule out any other causes that could be responsible. If the examination is inconclusive, you will be recommended to a neurologist who may conduct some or all of the following tests:

  • MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) employs magnetic fields and radio waves to present detailed images of the central nervous system. The test pinpoints irregularities by assessing the water content in the body’s tissues. Demyelination is one of the classic indicators of Multiple Sclerosis, as damaged myelin sheaths do not repel water the same way normal ones do. An MRI can also detect other abnormalities that may be causing the symptoms and that the blood test may have skipped.
  • Spinal tap: This is also known as a lumbar puncture and involves collecting a sample of the patient’s cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for testing. Neurologists will test the sample for indicators of Multiple Sclerosis, such as an elevated WBC count, an elevated IgG antibody count, or the presence of proteins that are known as oligoclonal bands. 
  • Evoked potential (EP) tests: EP tests evaluate the brain activity in response to sensory stimuli like sight or sound. The neurologist will place electrodes on the patient’s scalp and monitor the response to minute electrical signals. Most patients with early-stage Multiple Sclerosis demonstrate reduced transmission across the body’s neural pathways, which can cause symptoms like blurry or double vision. 

Note that there is no single test that can provide a conclusive diagnosis of Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. The diagnosing process, therefore, may take some time and require a second opinion.

Treatment for Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

While Multiple Sclerosis has no ultimate cure, the right treatment regime can slow disease progression and keep relapses at bay such that the patient leads an almost-normal life. Treatment options include Stem Cell Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy to regain control over muscles and perform everyday activities without pain or discomfort. Cognitive Therapy can also help with the learning and memory disorders that often occur with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. The sooner treatment commences, the lower the risk of lasting or debilitating nerve damage.

In addition to the treatment the doctor recommends, certain lifestyle changes can prevent the occurrence of flare-ups and help to manage or even curb symptoms. These include:

  • Maintaining a diet low in saturated fats and rich in lean protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Doing moderate exercise three to five times a week
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Avoiding tobacco and alcohol
  • Avoiding overheating and other potential triggers for flare-ups
  • Keeping stress levels low through meditation or yoga
  • Maintaining mood and mental health through counselling and engaging in positive activities

Prognosis of Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

Most cases of Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis remain fairly steady in terms of flare-ups and remissions for the first few decades, after which it tends to get progressively worse. Overall, about two-thirds of Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis cases will convert into Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis 15-20 years after the original diagnosis. MS is rarely fatal, although some of the associated complications such as respiratory or bladder disorders could be fatal unless treated promptly. 

The Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis life expectancy is only a few years shorter than average. With the right treatment, moreover, patients can lead an almost normal life throughout. Patients should keep their doctor informed about the occurrence of relapses and the appearance of any new symptoms, so that the treatment can be modified if necessary.

FAQs

  • Is Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis fatal?

Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis is a fairly mild disease in most cases and does not require too many assistive aids. Very rarely is it fatal.

  • Is MS treatable if caught early?

Early diagnosis and intervention helps to reduce the inflammation to the nerve cells and thus slow down disease progression. 

  • How can I stop my MS from progressing?

In addition to following all treatment procedures as the doctor prescribes, patients can slow their rate of MS progression by following a nutritious diet, getting enough exercise, quitting tobacco and alcohol, and getting vaccinated for infectious diseases, if they have not already. 

  • Can you cure MS with diet?

There is no evidence that any specific diet can cure or alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. However, a diet rich in fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with better overall health in MS patients.

  • Why is dairy bad for MS?

Research has shown that the high fat content in dairy as well as certain proteins present in cow’s milk may aggravate digestive problems and lead to poorer health in MS patients. Instead, doctors recommend dairy substitutes such as soy or almond products.

  • Are eggs bad for Multiple Sclerosis?

Eggs are a good source of Vitamin D and biotin, two nutrients that are recommended for patients with MS. However, it is advisable to leave out the egg yolks, as they contain cholesterol.

  • What should I avoid with Multiple Sclerosis?

Among the food items recommended as best to avoid for MS patients include processed meats, trans fats, carbonated beverages, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. Sugar and trans fats, in particular, have been linked with flare-ups of MS symptoms. 

  • What organs does Multiple Sclerosis affect?

Multiple Sclerosis affects the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord. As the disease progresses, extended nerve damage can cause other organ systems to malfunction as well.

  • What is the best exercise for MS patients?

Doctors recommend that MS patients do a mix of strength training, aerobic exercise, and stretching every week to stay fit and healthy.

  • What is Multiple Sclerosis relapse?

A relapse occurs when there is new damage to the nerves in the brain or the spinal cord. This can trigger new symptoms, or cause the return of old symptoms. A period of relapse may last up to 24 hours or even longer in some cases.

  • How long can you live with relapsing MS?

The average life expectancy for patients with Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis is about 5-10 years less than normal. While the disease itself is rarely fatal, complications that arise from it such as bladder or chest infections can sometimes cause death. 

  • What is the difference between MS and relapsing MS?

Multiple Sclerosis is classified into primary progressive MS, relapsing remitting MS, secondary progressive MS, and clinically isolated syndrome.

  • What is the rarest form of MS?

Tumefactive Multiple Sclerosis is a rare form of MS that manifests as tumor-like lesions on MRI scans. Symptoms present in similar fashion to a brain tumor.

  • Can relapsing MS become progressive?

In about 80% of cases, Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis turns into secondary progressive MS a few decades after the initial diagnosis. When this happens, the relapses become more severe and symptoms become progressively worse.

  • What is RRMS Multiple Sclerosis?

Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis is a type of MS that involves relapsing periods of symptom flare-ups followed by remission periods where symptoms remain unchanged. 

Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis is a tough diagnosis to receive, particularly when you are young and have plans for how you want your life to work out. However, remember that the diagnosis doesn’t have to define your life, as you can retain much of your functionality and independence with the right treatment.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy: An Overview

an-introduction-to-spastic-cerebral-palsy

Spastic Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive neurological disorder that inhibits the development of the motor function. It is a subtype of Cerebral Palsy, which occurs due to brain damage sustained at or shortly after birth and is a lifelong condition. There are several types of Cerebral Palsy, but Spastic Cerebral Palsy is the most common. Here, we take a closer look at what Spastic CP looks like and how to diagnose it.

Understanding Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and motor skills caused by damage or abnormalities in the developing brain. It typically occurs due to injury or infection before, during, or shortly after birth. While there is no cure for Cerebral Palsy, treatment options such as Stem Cell Therapy, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy go a long way in restoring functionality and boosting the patient’s independence.

The types of Cerebral Palsy that a child might have include Spastic, Atonic, Dyskinetic, Ataxic, and Mixed. Spastic Cerebral Palsy occurs when the damage is sustained by the brain’s motor cortex. Spasticity simply means abnormal muscle tightness, or Hypertonia. The tightness occurs because the damaged part of the brain cannot send messages correctly to the muscles. Patients with Spastic Cerebral Palsy thus display stiff, jerky movements. The faster the movement, the stiffer the limb appears. This makes it harder to complete voluntary movements and even hard to speak clearly. Spastic Cerebral Palsy accounts for about 77% of all Cerebral Palsy cases.

Types of Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic CP can be broken down into subtypes that more comprehensively describe the location and nature of the symptoms. Depending on where the brain damage occurrs, children with Spastic Cerebral Palsy may have different types of movement issues. These include:

  • Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy: Children experience muscle stiffness primarily in the legs, and to some extent, the arms. 
  • Spastic Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy: This diagnosis is given when the symptoms affect only one side of the body. In such cases, the spasticity tends to be greater in the arm than in the leg.
  • Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy: In these cases, spasticity occurs in all the four limbs as well as in the face and torso. Patients may have co-occurring conditions like Epilepsy.

Causes of Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic Cerebral Palsy occurs due to damage to either the motor cortex or the pyramidal tracts that connect the motor cortex to the spinal cord.

  • Motor cortex damage: Part of the cerebral cortex, the motor cortex relays messages to control voluntary movement of the body. When the motor cortex is damaged, these voluntary movements become difficult to do properly, resulting in stiff, spastic movements.
  • Pyramidal tracts damage: These tracts enable communication between the motor cortex and the spinal cord. Damage to the tracts means that the motor cortex can no longer convey messages to the spinal cord, which inhibits sensory function and movement.

The risk factors for developmental brain damage that could increase the child’s likelihood of getting Cerebral Palsy include:

  • Premature birth
  • Breech birth
  • Loss of oxygen to the newborn’s brain
  • Low birth weight
  • Infections sustained during pregnancy
  • Exposure to toxins during pregnancy
  • Blood clotting in the mother
  • Incompatible blood type between the mother and the fetus
  • Head trauma shortly after birth
  • Severe jaundice in the first few weeks after birth

Symptoms of Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spasticity, as the name suggests, leads to contracted muscles that cause stiff, jerky movements. It may affect any muscle group in the body and vary from mild to severe. In many cases, the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy may not be evident until early childhood, as the first signs typically involve missing developmental milestones. The common symptoms observed in children with Spastic Cerebral Palsy include:

  • Inability to lift one’s head as a baby
  • Difficulty standing and walking
  • Difficulty altering one’s position in bed
  • Difficulty standing up after sitting and vice versa
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills such as buttoning a shirt 
  • Inability to fully extend joints
  • Abnormal reflexes
  • Unusual posture and gait
  • Scissoring thighs
  • Slurred speech
  • Hoarse voice
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty eating and swallowing

Complications of Spastic Cerebral Palsy

While the Cerebral Palsy itself is non-progressive, the spasticity may lead to further complications in the body over time. These include:

  • Muscle atrophy from degeneration due to unuse or under-use
  • Changes to soft tissues like ligaments and tendons
  • Shortened muscles due to inability to keep up with normal bone growth, leading to contracture
  • Bone deformities such as hip dislocation or Scoliosis owing to contracted muscles
  • Muscle pain owing to abnormal activity in the spastic muscles

In addition, individuals with Spastic Cerebral Palsy are more prone to the following complications:

  • Vision / hearing impairment from the initial birth injury that caused the Cerebral Palsy
  • Bone fractures
  • Incontinence
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Tooth and gum disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Stunted growth
  • ADHD or other behavioral disorders

These are particularly likely in the more serious cases, such as severe Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. 

Diagnosing Spastic Cerebral Palsy

If a child is displaying symptoms of Spastic Cerebral Palsy, they should promptly be taken to the clinic for a diagnosis. The doctor will assess the location and severity of the spasticity by checking how well the child can control voluntary muscles and whether there are any contractures inhibiting them from performing normal daily tasks. The doctor may also physically check for any stiffness or pain in the muscles and joints to understand how that is affecting the child’s range of motion.

Once a diagnosis has been reached, the child can benefit from a tailored treatment program depending on the nature of their symptoms. Treatment options include:

  • Physiotherapy: This aims to increase the child’s range of motion and make it less painful. A variety of flexibility and stretching exercises may be recommended to enhance mobility and work the joints. The therapist may recommend using suitable toys and rewards to make it more enjoyable.
  • Occupational Therapy: This enables a child with Spastic CP to complete daily activities at home, at school, and elsewhere. Therapists recommend exercises that focus on wrist and finger movement to improve coordination and strength. In some cases, they may recommend aids such as special writing tools or adaptive scissors.
  • Speech Therapy: This improves control over oral movements and thus facilitates speaking and swallowing. Therapists focus on improving mouth and tongue movements to help children articulate more clearly, drool less, chew their food properly, and swallow safely without risk of choking. This not only improves communication abilities but also assists with proper nutrition as the child learns to eat meals safely.

FAQs

  • When is CP usually diagnosed?

In general, a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy can be obtained when the child is one or two years old. However, if the symptoms are mild, it may take a few years longer.

  • What is the differential diagnosis for Cerebral Palsy?

The differential diagnoses for Cerebral Palsy include intellectual disability, metabolic neuropathy, metabolic myopathies, traumatic peripheral nerve lesions, and vascular malformations of the spinal cord.

  • Can a child with Spastic CP walk?

Children with Spastic Cerebral Palsy tend to have stiff, jerky movements that make moving around tough. Nonetheless, around 50-60% of children with Spastic CP learn to walk independently, while around 10% learn to walk with a mobility device.

  • Who is most at risk for Cerebral Palsy?

Some of the risk factors for Cerebral Palsy include low birth weight, premature birth, complications during delivery, multiple gestations, infections sustained by the mother during pregnancy, and exposure to toxic chemicals during pregnancy.

  • What part of the brain is damaged in spasticity?

Spasticity occurs due to disrupted communication in either the cerebral cortex, which controls movement, or the brainstem where the spinal cord and the brain are connected.

  • What is the mildest form of Cerebral Palsy?

In some cases of Spastic Perebral palsy, the damage to the brain is relatively minor which means that motor impairments are mild. Usually, such children’s gait and daily activities are not hindered too much, and they can function without assistive devices.

  • Who is a spastic child?

Simply put, children with Spastic CP have unusually stiff muscles owing to continuous contraction. This makes movements and speech difficult for them

  • What does Cerebral Palsy feel like?

The common symptoms that children with Cerebral Palsy experience include impaired movements, unsteady gait, unusual posture, and spastic or floppy limbs.

  • Which muscles are spastic in CP?

The stiff muscles in Spastic Cerebral Palsy may appear in the upper body, the lower body, or both. They may manifest on one side of the body, or on both sides.

  • Why does Spastic Cerebral Palsy always cause high muscle tension?

In children with Spastic Cerebral Palsy, muscles have an abnormally high tone, known as Hypertonia. As a result, all the muscles become active together, leading to continuous stiffness or tightness and a lack of voluntary coordinated movement.

While a diagnosis of Spastic Cerebral Palsy can be challenging, remember that early detection and treatment can prove to be highly beneficial for your child’s future. From flexibility exercises, stretching the stiff muscles, to Speech Therapy that improves communication skills and enables safe swallowing, there are several treatment and therapy options to help your child with Spastic CP enjoy a functional, independant life.

How To Treat Autism With Behavioral Therapy: An Overview

treating-autism-with-behavioral-therapy

As a parent, learning that your child has Autism can be a challenging moment. Autism is a developmental disorder that affects a child’s communication and social skills, making it harder for them to pick up essential life skills and interact with others. With the right treatment, children can mingle with their peers almost perfectly, even though there is no ultimate cure for Autism itself. Here, we provide an introduction to Behavioral Therapy, which is one of the most commonly prescribed treatment options for Autism, and discuss the various options available.

Understanding Autism

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Children with Autism often have trouble following rules or communicating with others, which makes it hard for them to form relationships. Treatment options include various kinds of therapy to help the child better handle themselves in social situations. Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Social Skills Therapy are all useful forms of intervention.

Symptoms of Autism

No two children on the Autism spectrum will have the same exact set of symptoms. Generally, children face social, emotional, and behavioral challenges that make themselves evident in the first few years of life. Some symptoms to look out for include:

  • Avoiding eye contact and wanting to be alone most times
  • Repeating behaviour patterns excessively
  • Resisting towards any change in schedule
  • Being unable to understand social cues or the other person’s point of view
  • Avoiding physical contact such as cuddling
  • Not being able to follow the rules of a game, take turns, or share with others
  • Having trouble using language or typical actions to express a need

Types of Behavioral Therapy for Autism

Behavioral Therapy has been demonstrated to be the most effective solution for long-term integration of children with Autism. Many teachers try to integrate children into mainstream schooling from the get-go. While this is undoubtedly the long-term goal, a course on Behavioral Therapy at an early age strengthens social skills that allow for a more complete integration with mainstream currents. There are various types of Behavioral Therapy that your child may respond to, depending on their personality and temperament. The most commonly used types include:

  • Applied Behavior Therapy (ABA): This is one of the most common Behavioral Therapy options for children with Autism. It involves helping children achieve positive goals and learn how to identify and avoid negative behaviors. Therapists tailor the treatment plan to each child by first observing their current behavioral patterns and then determining the best goals for them. They then break down each desired skill into manageable components and teach the child those components through reinforcement, repetition, and rewards. Therapists also advise parents and other caregivers to learn ABA Therapy for Autism so that it can be reinforced at home and elsewhere, in addition to during therapy sessions. Depending on how serious the child’s symptoms are, the therapist may recommend up to 40 hours of ABA per week.
  • Sensory Integration Therapy: This type of Behavioral Therapy focuses on sensory processing disorders that a child with Autism may have. The essential goal is to help the child adjust to sensory inputs that the child finds overwhelming, while moderating the sensory inputs that the child is hyposensitive too. This type of therapy usually involves a tailored sensory diet to help the child process inputs without being over- or under-stimulated. Parents will also be given recommendations on appropriate sensory toys that can be used.
  • Relationship Development Intervention (RDI): This is a relatively new type of therapy for Autism. It involves encouraging positive social behaviors in the child through active participation from parents, thus helping the child form stronger personal and emotional connections. RDI focuses on building dynamic intelligence, which is what helps the child process information, cope with changes, and understand multiple perspectives. Ultimately, this enables children to control social behavior and express their feelings fluently. Typically, the therapist will observe the child’s current behavior and then guide the parents through a workshop that teaches the basics of RDI.
  • Communication Interventions: This type of therapy helps children with Autism communicate effectively, be it verbal or non-verbal communication, and thus interact better with people and environments. Therapists can recommend the use of smart tablets or cue cards for those with verbal deficiencies. They may also use various games, group tutoring sessions, and modeling behaviors to encourage effective communication and avoid tantrums or other frustrated behaviors.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Since the 1960s, research on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Autism has demonstrated its efficacy on children with milder forms of Autism. This type of therapy defines triggers for various types of behavior in a manner that children can recognize those triggers and modify their actions accordingly. For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy can help children see that loud noises make them angry or frustrated, and thus nudge them towards leaving the room or putting on some noise-canceling headphones. 
  • Floortime: The formal name for this type of Behavioral Therapy for Autism is Developmental and Individual Differences Relationship (DIR) Therapy. This involves the therapist or caregiver interacting with the child through activities the child enjoys. It encourages the children to select their own activity, while the therapist or caregiver follows the child’s lead.

Benefits of Behavioral Therapy for Autism

While it was assumed for a long time that Behavioral Therapy is only needed for excessively boisterous children, it is now recommended for everyone on the Autism spectrum. ABA Therapy for high functioning Autism has also delivered promising results. Behavioral Therapy is safe for all children and delivers clear-cut improvements on social skills, independent functionality, and the ability to communicate needs and emotions. At the same time, it is important to remember that not all children will respond equally well to all types of Behavioral Therapy. Moreover, as the child grows older, the types of therapy they respond to might evolve. It is thus necessary to keep tracking the child’s progress and make adjustments as required.

Other treatments for Autism

While Behavioral Therapy is an important component of treatment for Autism, it should be used in conjunction with other treatments. These include Autism-specific treatments as well as the normal medical check-ups that every child needs. 

    • Occupational Therapy: This type of therapy focuses specifically on teaching the child skills related to daily functioning. It can include feeding oneself, getting dressed, taking a bath, and holding a pencil. 
  • Stem Cell Therapy: The premise of Stem Cell Therapy is to allow the body to heal itself well enough to mitigate the symptoms of the condition for longer periods. This treatment is safe, speedy, and often completed within a day or two.
  • Diet: While there are no direct links between diet and Autism, many parents may wish to remove certain food groups from the diet of a child with Autism. In such cases, it is necessary to consult the doctor and ensure that the diet contains all the nutrients that the child needs for good health. In general, eating whole foods and plenty of high fiber and lean protein will keep your child healthy and thus reduce the likelihood of tantrums or meltdowns due to physical discomfort.
  • Physical therapy: Appropriate forms of exercise can help children work through several frustrations. Cardiovascular activities, yoga, stretching exercises, and jungle gym activities are all options to integrate. This also helps to maintain overall fitness levels. 
  • Alternative treatments: Many parents prefer to treat their child through alternative programs such as meditation, acupuncture, or herbal medication. It is always essential to ask the doctor about this beforehand so as not to cause any potential harm.
  • Regular check-ups: Children with Autism require regular medical and dental check-ups, much like any other child. This is also important because some behaviors that children with Autism display may actually be indicators of a physical problem. For instance, head banging could be an act of frustration, but it could also indicate earaches or migraines. In addition, children with Autism are more prone to other disorders such as ADHD, which a doctor can identify early if there are scheduled check-ups. 

FAQs

  • How do you deal with a behavioral problem with Autism?

Therapists recommend that parents not give in to problematic behaviors by simply giving the child what they want. Instead, they should communicate what is expected of the child through visual cues and praise the child once they have stopped the offending behavior or demonstrated the desired behavior.

  • Why is ABA bad for Autism?

If the ABA therapist is not adequately trained or does not form a strong enough bond with the child, they may unintentionally lead to the development of new problematic behaviors. Overall, however, ABA is a safe and beneficial form of therapy.

  • Can ABA therapy cure Autism?

Experts agree that ABA therapy is the safest and most effective form of therapy to instil stronger communication and social skills.

  • How much does ABA therapy cost?

ABA therapy can be quite expensive, with the average fee per hour being around $120. This, however, becomes quite affordable with the right kind of insurance coverage.

  • How do you manage Autism behavior?

Some easy ways to guide a child with Autism towards better behavior include reinforcing positive behaviors, offering a choice of non-essential activities, practising transitions, and teaching them coping skills.

  • How do you help an angry child with Autism?

The parent or caregiver should always listen to their child so that they can understand where their anger is coming from. They should provide the child with a safe space to express their anger until they calm down, and then work with the child to reach a compromise if the child cannot have what they want. 

  • How can Autism be improved?

Given that Autism does not have an ultimate cure, treatment options focus on managing the symptoms or instilling desirable skills and habits to help the child fit in better at school, home, or other environments.

  • What are the most effective treatments for Autism?

Applied Behavioral Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Social Skills Therapy, Sensory Integration Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Stem Cell Therapy are all effective and proven ways to treat Autism.

  • How do you calm a child that has Autism, from screaming?

The most important point for parents or caregivers to remember is to keep calm when a child with Autism is screaming. Yelling back at them or using physical punishments will be ineffective and may end up traumatizing the child. The best way to calm down a screaming child is to give them a sensory tool such as noise-cancellation headphones, a weighted blanket, or a fidget toy to distract them.

In conclusion, Behavioral Therapy remains the most reliable way to teach valuable social and communication skills to children with Autism. Invest some time in figuring out what works best, be it ABA therapy or RDI or a mix of different types, and keep observing your child’s progress, and checking in on how they are feeling. Over time, you’ll see definite improvements.

Why Do Spinal Cord Injuries Happen?

common-causes-of-spinal-cord-injury

A Spinal Cord Injury involves damage to any part of the spinal cord or its nerves. The physical, mental, and emotional impact of a Spinal Cord Injury is usually severe, and can potentially lead to total loss of function in the body. Here, we take a closer look at the common causes of spinal cord injuries and how to possibly prevent one.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injury

A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) involves mutilation to the spinal cord that causes reversible or irreversible changes in its function. Symptoms may include the loss of muscle function, sensation, or autonomic function, in the parts of the body supplied by the spinal cord below the level of the injury. Causes of SCI occur primarily due to accidents and violent impact, including car crashes or injuries during contact sports. Treatment typically involves a tailored regenerative rehabilitation program that includes Stem Cell Therapy, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and other procedures as deemed necessary.

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury

Significant trauma to the neck or head puts a patient at high risk for a Spinal Cord Injury. Moreover, such injuries may not be apparent at first, as symptoms like numbness may set in gradually. Early signs to note immediately after a trauma that could indicate a Spinal Cord Injury include:

  • Oddly positioned neck or back
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and / or feet
  • Severe back and / or neck pain
  • Difficulty walking
  • Loss of bladder and / or bowel control

In the case of an injury to the head or neck, the patient should receive medical attention and a full check-up immediately. A neurologist can conduct the necessary tests to determine whether or not there is a Spinal Cord Injury, and how severe it is. The sooner the patient gets a diagnosis, the better are prospects for recovery.

Common causes of Spinal Cord Injury

A Spinal Cord Injury occurs when the spinal cord or its vertebrae or ligaments sustain trauma. There is immediate damage from the trauma itself, and subsequent damage from the inflammation, bleeding, and accumulation of fluid around the site of the injury. The causes of Spinal Cord Injury can be divided into two categories – traumatic and non-traumatic. 

The traumatic causes behind Spinal Cord Injury include:

  • Falls: Particularly for people over the age of 65, a serious fall puts them at risk of a Spinal Cord Injury
  • Vehicular accidents: Nearly half of the cases of Spinal Cord Injury every yea,r occur due to motorcycle and automobile accidents
  • Acts of violence: Gunshot or knife wounds in violent encounters can cause serious damage to the spinal cord, even shattering some of the vertebrae
  • Sports and recreation: Injuries sustained during activities like diving in shallow water or impact sports, account for about 10% of Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Electrical shock: While this is not one of the common causes of Spinal Cord Injury, a severe electric shock may damage the nerves of the spinal cord and cause long-lasting trauma

The non-traumatic causes behind Spinal Cord Injury include:

  • Arthritis: Inflammation of the joints in the spine could cause damage to the vertebrae over time
  • Osteoporosis: Brittle bones are less likely to heal after sustaining even minor injuries. For those with osteoporosis, even something like a lower back injury could lead to Spinal Cord Injury if left untreated
  • Cancer: Tumors along the spinal cord can affect blood flow and damage the nerves.
  • Inflammation of the spinal cord: People with certain autoimmune conditions sustain damage to the myelin that covers nerve cell fibers, which can lead to inflammation and serious injury

Risk factors for Spinal Cord Injury

There is no real way to prevent Spinal Cord Injury, as most of them occur due to accidents and can happen to anyone. However, certain risk factors may increase the likelihood for certain individuals. These include:

  • Being in the 16-30 age range: Over half of patients with Spinal Cord Injury fall in this age group
  • Belonging to a certain gender group: Data shows that around 80% of traumatic Spinal Cord Injury cases happen to men
  • Drinking alcohol: In about 25% of Spinal Cord Injury cases, alcohol abuse is involved
  • Being above the age of 65 years: People in this age range are more prone to falls and are slower to recover from injuries, which increases their risk
  • Having certain conditions: Those with diseases that weaken the bones and/or joints, such as Osteoporosis, are at higher risk of a Spinal Cord Injury even if the initial trauma is relatively mild
  • Engaging in risky activitie