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?

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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

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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

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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?

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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?

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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 activities: People who play sports without wearing protective gear, dive into shallow water, or drive recklessly are at much higher risk of Spinal Cord Injury

Diagnosing Spinal Cord Injury

When a patient is suspected of having a Spinal Cord Injury, they must be taken to the emergency room, immediately. The healthcare team will first verify that the injury is not affecting the patient’s heart rate or breathing. Then, a neurologist will conduct tests to determine how the patient’s motor function and sensory function have been affected.

There are several tests that doctors use to establish a Spinal Cord Injury diagnosis, including:

  • An X-ray to identify bone dislocations or fractures
  • An MRI to scan the soft tissues of the spinal cord
  • A CT scan to identify blood vessel damage or blood clots
  • An Electromyogram (EMG) to assess the electrical activity in nerve cells

Preventing Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal Cord Injury causes mostly involve accidents, which are by definition hard to predict or avoid. However, taking certain precautionary measures can reduce one’s risk of such injuries.

  • Falls can be prevented by using grab rails or other forms of support when moving on slippery surfaces or climbing stairs. This is particularly important for senior  people and young children.
  • Seatbelts should be fastened by everyone in the car, and not just the person driving. Children below the age of 12 should sit in the backseat to avoid airbag injuries in the event of an accident.
  • Diving should only be practised in pools deeper than 3.7 metres.
  • Protective equipment should be worn during sports. Players should avoid leading with their head.

FAQs

  • What happens if your spinal cord is damaged?

When someone’s spinal cord is damaged, messages from the brain to the rest of the body are unable to get through. At the same time, the spinal cord nerves below the site of the injury are unable to send signals upward to the brain. As a result, the person can no longer control their movements.

  • What are the complications of Spinal Cord Injury?

A Spinal Cord Injury can lead to a variety of other medical complications. Circulatory problems are very common, which can increase the patient’s risk of a heart attack or a Pulmonary embolism. Respiratory problems, urological disorders, and pressure ulcers are other complications that can occur.

  • Can a person walk again after a Spinal Cord Injury?

A patient with an incomplete Spinal Cord Injury may learn to walk again with aids. Commencing Physiotherapy and muscle recovery as soon as possible after the injury is crucial. Most patients experience the fastest degree of recovery in the first 6 to 12 months after the injury.

  • Can a spinal cord be repaired?

The effects of a Spinal Cord Injury can be controlled with proper Rehabilitation and Therapy, helping the patient recover some or most of their functionality.

  • Does Spinal Cord Injury affect the brain?

After a spinal cord injury, messages from the brain cannot reach the rest of the body, leading to loss of muscle control. Moreover, the injury itself can cause significant inflammation in the brain and a loss of nerve cells, which can affect cognitive and emotional abilities. 

  • How can Spinal Cord Injuries stop?

Damage to the spinal cord after an injury cannot be reversed. One can prevent the risk of a Spinal Cord Injury by driving carefully and taking precautions while playing a sport or while carrying heavy loads.

  • What is the immediate concern with the patient who has suffered a spinal cord injury at C3?

Spinal nerves at C3-C5 control the muscles of the diaphragm. A C3 Spinal Cord Injury can thus potentially hinder breathing and be fatal if not treated at once. The patient may experience paralysis in the limbs and require a ventilator for breathing.

  • What is the main cause of diseases that are related to the brain and spinal cord?

Most diseases of the brain and spinal cord are caused by infections, injuries, bone fractures, blocked blood supply, or conditions such as a tumor.

  • What disease affects the brain and spinal cord?

Conditions of the brain and spinal cord include Meningitis, Polio, Encephalitis, Bell’s Palsy, tumors, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and Spinal Cord Injury.

A Spinal Cord Injury, in short, is a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention  after trauma. A clear understanding of Spinal Cord Injury causes and symptoms can enable prompt action and speedy diagnosis, which will maximize the patient’s chances of recovery. In addition, taking suitable care to stay safe while indulging in any activity like playing games, driving, etc can help one keep out of harm’s way.

Early Signs And Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease: An Overview

early-signs-and-symptoms-of-parkinson’s-disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurological condition that typically affects patients above the age of 60. The early signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease can be hard to spot, since they often appear sporadically, and are mild during their initial appearance. Timely diagnosis and intervention is crucial for optimum treatment. Here, we take a closer look at the early signs of Parkinson’s Disease.

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 affect movement. The exact cause of Parkinson’s Disease is still not known, although it is attributed to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. There is no known cure, however, diagnosis and treatment may help control symptoms.

Early signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease are often very mild. Moreover, symptoms vary from person to person. One of the most common symptoms are tremors, although it is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for diagnosis. Moreover, there are several other symptoms that may be overlooked because they have nothing to do with movement. In general, we can classify the early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease into two categories, motor and non-motor.

Motor symptoms

These relate to movement, functionality, coordination, and balance. Symptoms may initially manifest on one side of the body, before affecting both sides. Generally, two or more of the following motor symptoms are necessary for the doctor to consider a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.

  • Tremor: A classic sign of Parkinson’s Disease, tremors can manifest in a single hand, foot, or leg, and can also occur in the jaw, chin, tongue, or mouth. They usually occur when the affected body part is at rest. Some patients may also experience internal tremors that are not apparent to observers.
  • Bradykinesia: The word means ‘slow movement’ in Greek. It results in a general slowing-down of movement as well as a decreased eye-blink rate and reduced facial expressions (known as facial masking). Fine motor skills may also be compromised.
  • Rigidity: The limbs and/or torso may feel tight or stiff. This is one of the early signs of Parkinson’s Disease that is often mistaken for something else, such as Arthritis or injury.
  • Dystonia: Rapid involuntary movements are among the common early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Parts of the body such as the limbs, neck, or torso may twist into an unnatural stance.
  • Posture: Patients with Parkinson’s Disease often develop a leaning or slouching posture during the initial stages. This tends to worsen as the disease progresses.
  • Problems with gait: During the early stages of the condition, the patient may experience difficulties with the gait such as a drop in the natural swing of the arms while walking. They may also develop a shuffling gait or take smaller, slower steps.

Non-motor symptoms

A patient may experience some of these for months or even years without realising it. We list out some of the commonly observed non-motor symptoms as follows.

  • Vocal changes: The patient may experience a softening or hoarsening of the voice or a loss in the natural variations of the voice while talking, leading to a monotone. This is one of the very early signs of Parkinson’s Disease that others may remark on before the patient notices it themselves.
  • Reduced sense of smell: The patient may lose some or all of their ability to smell. This, in fact, could occur years before other symptoms follow. About 70-90% of Parkinson’s Disease patients experience loss of smell.
  • Cognitive changes: Many patients will experience trouble with concentration, multi-tasking, word-finding, and decision-making.
  • Sleep problems: This is one of the common early signs of Parkinson’s Disease. Patients may have trouble falling asleep and / or staying asleep. They may also experience highly vivid dreams or make uncontrollable movements during their sleep.
  • Constipation: Many patients with Parkinson’s Disease have difficulty moving their bowels in the early stages. In fact, about 25% of patients experience constipation before any motor symptoms show up, increasing the risk of misdiagnosis.
  • Psychosis: Whether as an early symptom or as a consequence of disease progression, over half of all Parkinson’s patients experience hallucinations, delusions, and / or paranoia.
  • Depression/Anxiety: These are often observed as part of the early signs of Parkinson’s Disease and happen as a result of lowered dopamine levels. However, they are often treated as conditions in themselves rather than being indicative of an underlying condition.
  • Weight loss: Patients may experience weight loss due to reduced food intake that happens, due to loss of smell or mood swings, or increased energy requirements due to tremors.

Diagnosing Parkinson’s Disease

If you observe any of the early signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease in yourself, remember not to panic. Quite often, those same signs and symptoms could point to other causes that are much less serious, and even curable. As soon as possible, consult a doctor and describe the nature and frequency of your symptoms, in detail. Here are a few frequently asked questions by doctors to access the severity of your conditions:

  • What medical conditions do you currently have or have you had in the past, including details of any medication you are on
  • Whether your sense of smell has been affected
  • Whether you have experienced sensations such as your feet appearing ‘frozen’ to the floor
  • Whether your handwriting has become smaller and more cramped
  • Whether you have sleep trouble
  • Whether you have noticed changes in your temperament and mood

On the basis of a preliminary examination, if the doctor suspects that you may have Parkinson’s Disease, they will refer you to a neurologist for further check-ups. The neurologist will test your mobility, balance, coordination, gait, and muscle tone through various exercises. They may also recommend that you see a movement disorder specialist. Finally, they may recommend a dose of dopamine to evaluate your response. If your symptoms improve significantly afterwards, you most likely have Parkinson’s Disease. 

Once your diagnosis is confirmed, talk to your doctor about the best treatment options and make any lifestyle changes that you are advised to. A mix of Physical and Occupational Therapy can help greatly with movement control and give you a high degree of functionality. Above all, take the support of your loved ones during this time and don’t be afraid to seek help, whether it’s asking a friend to drive you to the doctor’s or talking to a counsellor about your diagnosis.

FAQs

  • What age does Parkinson’s Disease usually start?

Most cases of Parkinson’s Disease are diagnosed when the patient is 60 or older. Symptoms typically develop in mid or late life. Young people rarely get the disease.

  • Can Parkinsons be cured if caught early?

There is no cure at present for Parkinson’s Disease. However, treatment can slow disease progression and keep symptoms in check. The sooner the treatment begins, the better the results.

  • How does a person with Parkinson’s feel?

Patients with Parkinson’s Disease may experience muscle spasms, tremors, and problems with walking and balance. As the disease progresses, patients tend to experience sleep disorders, learning and memory problems, difficulty talking, and mental conditions such as paranoia, hallucinations, or Depression.

  • What can be mistaken for Parkinson’s?

Several other conditions could also have symptoms that resemble the early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Some of these include essential tremor, Viral Parkinsonism, Post-traumatic Parkinsonism, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, and Multiple System Atrophy.

  • Can Parkinson’s stay mild?

Stage 1 of Parkinson’s Disease is the mildest, and may last for about 3 to 7 years. While the disease will eventually progress, the right treatment can reduce the intensity of the symptoms.

  • Can you have Parkinsons without tremors?

Tremors are one of the most common, very early signs of Parkinson’s Disease. However, not all patients experience it. Some may experience a general stiffness in their limbs or a slowing down of movement, without tremors.

  • Can a blood test detect Parkinson’s Disease?

At present, there is no blood test to detect Parkinson’s Disease. Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on what your symptoms are and what a brain scan reveals.

  • What disease has the same symptoms as Parkinson’s Disease?

The early signs of Parkinson’s Disease are very similar to those of other movement disorders. Most notably, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) has early signs and symptoms that almost completely overlap with those of Parkinson’s Disease.

  • Are leg cramps associated with Parkinson’s?

Muscle cramps (Dystonia) are among the frequently observed early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Patients most commonly experience them in their feet, calves, and neck.

  • Does Parkinson’s cause muscle and joint pain?

As Parkinson’s Disease progresses, reduced mobility and the increased tendency to fall can lead to pain in muscles and bones. Those with muscle tightness may also experience a pulsing type of pain.

  • How long can you have Parkinson’s before diagnosis?

Because the early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease are often very mild, it is possible for someone to display symptoms for almost up to a decade, before getting a diagnosis.

  • Is back pain associated with Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s Disease can cause posture to stoop as the disease progresses, which often leads to pain in the upper and lower back, and the neck.

In conclusion, Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic condition for which early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to prolong good functionality, and slow down disease progression. By knowing how to spot the early signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, you can benefit from an early diagnosis and also set your mind at rest sooner if you don’t have Parkinson’s.

What To Do When You Spot Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

What To Do When You Spot Parkinson's Disease Symptoms

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative condition that usually affects people aged 60 and above. It can be challenging to adjust to, especially since there is no definite cure. It is critical to get an early diagnosis and commence prompt treatment for maximum benefits. What does one do to spot the early signs of Parkinson’s Disease symptoms?

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

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. The exact cause of Parkinson’s Disease is unknown, though it is usually a mix of genetic and environmental factors. Parkinson’s Disease has no cure, although treatment can go a long way in keeping the symptoms under control.

Symptoms to watch out for

Parkinson’s can look very different from one patient to another, and the initial symptoms are often very mild. For example, you may notice slight shaking in one hand, or some slight difficulty in doing up buttons, or eating with a spoon. Some of the tell-tale symptoms to keep an eye out for include:

  • Problems with balance or an increased tendency to fall
  • Unusual stiffness or tremors in the arms, legs, or trunk
  • Slow movements 
  • Slurred speech
  • Hoarse, softened voice

What to do if you spot Parkinson’s Disease symptoms

The first thing to remember if you observe one or more of the symptoms above is not to panic. There are several other causes that could be responsible, including simple old age. Visit a doctor straight away and describe your symptoms in detail – when they first started, how frequently they occur, and how severe they are. 

If your doctor believes that you may have Parkinson’s after conducting a preliminary check, they will recommend you to a neurologist. The neurologist will check your muscle tone and balance, and assess your ability to move through exercises such as getting out of a chair without support. They may ask further questions, such as

  • Whether you have trouble sleeping?
  • Whether you notice changes in mood, temperament, and memory?
  • Whether your sense of smell has worsened?
  • Whether you noticed a reduction in your handwriting size?
  • What medical conditions you have had in the past and what medication are you currently on?

They may then recommend a dose of dopamine to see how you respond. If your symptoms show considerable improvement, you are likely to have Parkinson’s Disease. The neurologist may also recommend you to a movement disorder specialist for further opinion.

What to do when you receive a Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis

Being told that you have a serious condition like Parkinson’s Disease is understandably hard. It is essential to remember, however, that now is the time for you to take control of your diagnosis so that you get the best Parkinson’s Disease treatment in Bangalore. Some tips to help with this are:

  • Give yourself time to adjust: It is perfectly acceptable to take some time out before fully accepting the reality of Parkinson’s. You can use this time to research as much as possible about the condition and ask your doctor any questions you have. If you’re having trouble processing it emotionally, you can talk to a counselor or join a support group.
  • Track your symptoms: As you commence your treatment, it’s crucial to pay attention to how your body is responding. Keep track of how often your symptoms flare up and what the triggers are; also keep note of the improvements after taking medication. If new symptoms crop up or if the treatment doesn’t seem to have any effects, inform your doctor immediately.
  • Build a support network: Your loved ones will be your most valuable asset as you navigate this disease. Keep them included right from the get-go by telling them about your condition, and what support might be needed from them as the disease progresses. This is especially important for a partner or an adult child who may need to be your caregiver.
  • Get active: Multiple studies have demonstrated the benefits of exercise for Parkinson’s patients. Try to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, including aerobic exercises and strength training.
  • Keep your mind engaged: Just like any physical activity, mental engagement is key to overall health. Take up new hobbies and participate in social activities with your family and friends. It’s also a good idea to take up a new job or retain an old one, if possible, to continue having something concrete to occupy yourself with. 

While it can be hard to live with Parkinson’s Disease, it doesn’t have to be something that defines you. Take the time you need to accept your diagnosis and care for yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Over time, you can build a fulfilling life for yourself.

https://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/guide/diagnosing-parkinsons

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/parkinsons-disease/newly-diagnosed-with-parkinsons-disease-7-things-to-do-now

How Multiple Sclerosis Is Diagnosed: Everything You Need To Know

How Multiple Sclerosis Is Diagnosed

Multiple Sclerosis is a progressive autoimmune condition that disrupts communication in the central nervous system and leads to nerve damage over time. Getting to a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis can be difficult, as there are no known causes or definitive risk factors. Typically, a doctor will run a variety of tests to detect Multiple Sclerosis, and to identify any other underlying disease that may be causing the symptoms. Here, we provide a brief overview of what to expect through the diagnosis process for 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 causes 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 has no cure, but early detection and treatment can slow the progression of the disease and maximize functionality for the patient.

Early signs of Multiple Sclerosis

A MS diagnosis is generally made between the ages of 20 and 40. The early signs and symptoms are often vague and unnoticeable. It is advisable to get a check-up if you experience two or more of the following symptoms:

  • Muscle weakness/spasms
  • Tingling or numbness in the limbs
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Blurry vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Eye pain that exacerbates with movement

Ways to diagnose Multiple Sclerosis

There is no distinct test that can confirm or rule out Multiple Sclerosis. If you have been demonstrating signs of Multiple Sclerosis, your doctor will conduct a full physical examination and then run blood tests to eliminate other conditions that could be causing the symptoms. If these blood tests are inconclusive, the doctor may refer you to a neurologist, who will call for 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. They identify irregularities by assessing the water content in the body’s tissues. Demyelination is one of the classic indicators of Multiple Sclerosis. Damaged myelin sheaths do not repel water as they should under normal conditions. An MRI can also detect other abnormalities that may not have been detected through the blood test.

  • 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 This can lead to ocular disorders such as blurry or double vision. Thus, an EP test helps make a conclusive diagnosis while also detecting other problems that may account for impaired vision. 

  • Lumbar puncture

Also known as a spinal tap, lumbar puncture 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. These indicators can also be used to identify other diseases that may be the culprit.

In conclusion, diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis can be a time-consuming and mentally taxing process, especially when there is much at stake. Knowing what to expect can make things easier, as can reaching out to friends or a support group. It is important to commence the diagnosis process as soon as possible so that you can gain the benefit of early treatment.

https://www.healthline.com/health/multiple-sclerosis/tests-diagnose

Types Of Cerebral Palsy: An Overview

Types Of Cerebral Palsy

A diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy for a child can be hard on any parent. A neurological condition that has no conclusive cure, Cerebral Palsy affects muscle movement and functionality, and can make it hard for your child to do things independently. Thus, it is crucial to be aware of what the condition looks like, what the symptoms are and most importantly, where you can get the best Cerebral Palsy treatment in Bangalore.

In this article, we offer a quick guide to the major types of Cerebral Palsy that your child may have.

Understanding Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, coordination, and compromised motor skills, caused by damage or some abnormality in the developing brain. It is usually diagnosed by the time the child is three years old, and is a lifelong non-progressive condition that may also affect visual and sensory abilities. While Cerebral Palsy can make it hard for the child to function normally, treatment options such as Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, and Speech Therapy can help greatly.

Early signs of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy occurs because of damage to the brain at birth or soon after. The symptoms can begin manifesting from a few months of age. While most doctors will not give a conclusive diagnosis until your child is two or three years old, parents can keep an eye out for certain signs that merit a check-up. Some of the early symptoms common to all types of Cerebral Palsy include:

  • Poor coordination
  • Deformities in the bones and/or joints
  • Difficulty in feeding
  • Retention of primitive reflexes past the appropriate age
  • Floppiness or unusual stiffness in the limbs
  • Reduced muscle mass

If your child displays some or all of these symptoms, it helps to do a developmental screening right away so that the doctor can assess your child’s condition further.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

Depending on which part of the brain is affected, there are four main types of Cerebral Palsy that your child might be diagnosed with. These include:

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy: This is the most common type of Cerebral Palsy and accounts for about 80% of cases. Patients experience muscle stiffness, exaggerated reflexes, muscle weakness, and abnormal walking behaviors like scissoring. It can manifest in the entire body or just on one side.
  • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy: Patients with Dyskinetic CP exhibit involuntary abnormal movements in the face and limbs. The movements may be stiff and jerky or slow and writhing, and affect the patient’s ability to sit, stand, walk, and perform daily tasks.
  • Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy: This type of Cerebral Palsy leads to overly relaxed muscles, causing the limbs to appear floppy. In young children, this leads to trouble controlling the head and face muscles, which can cause difficulties with feeding, swallowing, and breathing.
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy: This type of Cerebral Palsy is characterized by clumsy or jerky movements. Patients will usually have trouble with walking and fine motor skills such as picking things up or holding something.
  • Mixed Cerebral Palsy: This refers to a combination of the above symptoms of two or more types. Usually, mixed CP involves symptoms of Spastic and Dyskinetic CP.

Classification of Cerebral Palsy by severity

The Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) classifies Cerebral Palsy into five levels based on the patient’s ability to move independently and their reliance on aids for mobility. These include:

  • Level 1: The patient can walk without difficulty.
  • Level 2: The patient can walk long distances but has trouble with running or jumping. They may need a wheelchair to navigate outside their home and may also use a cane or leg brace when learning to walk.
  • Level 3: The patient can stand without support and sit with only some support, but needs a cane or walker to move around inside the home and a wheelchair outside the home.
  • Level 4: The patient can stand and walk with assistive devices and can navigate independently in a wheelchair.
  • Level 5: The patient needs support to sit, stand, and to control their head and neck. They can navigate independently in a motorized wheelchair.

Cerebral Palsy may be difficult to live with, but treatment can surely make things easier for even severe cases. From regular Occupational Therapy, to the use of assistive devices, there are several ways to restore or improve functionality and ensure that the patient leads an active, fulfilling life. A prompt diagnosis of the exact type of Cerebral Palsy will greatly help in commencing prompt treatment.

Eating Disorders And Autism: What’s The Link?

Eating Disorders And Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition that creates social and behavioral challenges. Children who receive treatment from an early age can grow into functional individuals even though there is no cure for Autism itself. Often, Autism presents along with other conditions such as eating disorders, which can exacerbate the symptoms of Autism, and affect the child’s bodily and mental health, if not addressed. Here, we discuss what eating disorders may look like in a child with Autism and how you can address it

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 with following instructions and participating adequately in social situations. Treatment for Autism involves a combination of Occupational, Behavioral, and Social Skills Therapy that help children to better adjust to the environment they are in and effectively interact with peers and adults.

Types of eating disorders in children with Autism

It is often observed that children with Autism display mental health and behavioral disorders. In particular, researchers have discovered a fairly high occurrence of eating disorders in children who have Autism. An eating disorder is a behavioral condition that involves persistent, severe trouble with eating behavior and food choices. Some of the ways in which this might manifest for an autistic child include:

  • Refusing to eat certain types of food
  • Overeating certain types of food and/or insisting on eating only one or two favorite foods
  • Eating too quickly or too slowly
  • Disruptive mealtime behavior
  • Sensory processing issues for certain food textures or tastes
  • Unusual eating behaviors such as pica (a craving for non-food items like chalk or sand)
  • Abnormal eating habits such as eating one strand of spaghetti at a time
  • Reacting negatively to changes in meal components, timing, or quantity

Challenges faced in case of eating disorders

The link between Autism and eating disorders is a complex one. At present, it is estimated that about 20% of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder also have Anorexia. While it is not conclusively proven that Autism directly contributes to eating disorders, the combination of the two can create multiple challenges for the child. Some of the potential ill-effects of an eating disorder include:

  • Delayed diagnosis, as the symptoms of an eating disorder often overlap with the repetitive, restrictive behaviors in Autism
  • Difficulty adjusting to social situations involving food and mealtimes
  • Risk of being bullied at school owing to poor eating habits
  • Decline in physical health owing to overnutrition/undernutrition
  • Increase in Autism-related behaviors such as trouble with processing emotions owing to starvation of the brain
  • Insecurity due to poor body image
  • Greater feeling of being isolated and shunned owing to social stigma around eating disorders and Autism

Treatment for eating disorders

Just as with Autism itself, treating children with Autism who have eating disorders requires a tailored approach. Thus, parents should choose a therapist who has experience with both, Autism and eating disorders. Given that resistance to change is one of the characteristic traits of children with Autism, guiding them out of poor eating habits will take time and patience. Some of the activities the therapist may cover, include:

  • Guided exercises on table manners and how to eat various foods correctly
  • Chewing and swallowing exercises for proper digestion
  • Gradual introduction of new tastes and textures to help with sensory acclimatizing
  • Guided practice of eating in a group
  • Guidance on knowing when one feels full and stopping the meal
  • Use of cue cards or other communication devices to convey any changes in meal timing or composition

An eating disorder can be harmful for your child, physically and mentally. If your child that has Autism, is displaying disruptive or unhealthy eating habits, take them to a therapist for appropriate intervention, as soon as possible. This will help your child enjoy a healthy relationship with food and mingle better with their peers.

https://www.bodywhys.ie/understanding-eating-disorders/key-issues/autism-eating-disorders/

The Benefits Of Physical And Occupational Therapy For ALS Patients

The Benefits Of Physical And Occupational Therapy For ALS Patients

Being diagnosed with ALS is a challenging moment for both the patient and their family. A progressive neurodegenerative condition, ALS affects the nerves that control voluntary muscle movement and consequently, erodes the patient’s ability to move, speak, and even breathe over time. In this context, embarking on a treatment program immediately after diagnosis is critical to preserve functionality and reduce the patient’s physical and mental discomfort. Here, we take a closer look at how ALS patients can benefit from Physical and Occupational Therapy.

Understanding ALS

ALS is one among a group of conditions known as motor neuron diseases. Motor neuron diseases are neurodegenerative disorders that selectively affect motor neurons – the cells that control all the voluntary muscles of the body. As the name suggests, voluntary muscles are responsible for performing voluntary movements.

Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis incapacitates the patient’s brain to send messages to the muscles, causing them to weaken and eventually die. ALS is inherited in about 5-10% of patients, while the causes behind the remaining cases are unknown. There is no cure for the disease, although treatment can slow down progression and improve functionality.

How Occupational Therapy can help patients with ALS

As ALS progresses and muscle degeneration accelerates, it becomes harder for the patient to accomplish everyday tasks on their own. Occupational Therapy helps to improve quality of life and retain as much independence as possible. Typically, the Occupational Therapist will contribute in the following ways:

  • They will first observe the patient’s home and work environment, to get a clear understanding of the need, in terms of therapy.
  • They will work with the patient and their caregivers on the best adjustments to aid mobility, such as by adding grab rails around the house for safer movement, or suggesting devices to help with feeding.
  • They will teach the patient energy conservation techniques to help them overcome excessive fatigue, while completing daily tasks. This also allows for more clarity on which tasks a caregiver can help the patient with.
  • They will provide long-term assistive devices to meet the future needs of patients, ridding them of the pain of repeatedly purchasing new devices and learning how to use them.

In the context of using aids and assistive devices in Occupational Therapy, it is important to include the patient in the decision-making process. Many people feel conscious about being unable to do simple things on their own and may resist an assistive device. Given their preferences, patients are more likely to feel comfortable and gain control over their treatment.

How Physical Therapy can help

Physical Therapy is essential for patients with ALS to help reduce the pace of muscle deterioration. The right exercises will help retain muscle functionality for longer, and also make it easier to use assistive devices. This happens by strengthening the muscles that have not yet been affected by ALS, enabling them to support weaker muscles and optimize overall function. The physiotherapist will recommend a tailored exercise program for each patient based on how their condition is progressing and the kind of aids used. Stretching, strengthening, and pain-reduction are some of the treatment priorities that a physiotherapist may focus on. Furthermore, low-impact exercises like walking, biking, or swimming have multiple benefits such as improving energy levels and cardiovascular health.

For a patient with ALS, the constant struggle to complete daily tasks can be demotivating and frustrating. Occupational and Physical Therapy can help improve the patient’s independence, offering them a better quality of life by enabling them to do more on their own. It is, thus, crucial to sign up for Occupational Therapy in Bangalore immediately after an ALS diagnosis to reap the benefits. 

https://alsnewstoday.com/occupational-therapy/

https://www.physio-pedia.com/Amyotrophic_Lateral_Sclerosis

How To Prepare For A Life With ALS: A Brief Guide

How To Prepare For A Life With ALS

Receiving a diagnosis of ALS can be a challenging moment for you and your family. A rare neurodegenerative disease, ALS has no cure and patients will eventually lose functionality and rely on round-the-clock medical care. It may be difficult to think about preparing for a life with ALS, especially when you are in denial mode about the diagnosis. However, preparing in advance helps you and your family to take prompt action when contingencies arise. Here, we provide a brief guide on the same.

Understanding ALS

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is one among a group of conditions known as motor neuron disease. Motor neuron diseases are a group of neurodegenerative disorders that selectively affect motor neurons, that is, the cells which control all the voluntary muscles of the body. The voluntary muscles are responsible for performing movements under one’s will and thus motor neuron diseases affect one’s ability to perform voluntary movements. The cause behind ALS is unknown in most cases. It could be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. 

Symptoms of ALS

The initial symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis may look very different from one patient to another, depending on where the neurodegeneration first began. In general, some of the symptoms to keep an eye out for include:

  • Weakness in the limbs
  • Unsteady gait
  • Twitching sensations in the arms and shoulders
  • Muscle cramping
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble with eating and swallowing
  • Unexpected and rapid weight loss

Preparing for a future with ALS

It can be hard to think about a future where your abilities have declined, but it is crucial to do so while your faculties are in top condition. The objective of planning for the future is to ensure that you have the best quality of life possible, in ways that matter to you. Here are some things you might wish to consider after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Define what makes a quality life for you

Everyone’s definition of a good life is different, and having this clarity will help you make appropriate decisions for the kind of care you need. Think about factors like your religious and socio-cultural beliefs, the level of independence you want, the type of situations you would like to avoid, and which of your relatives and friends you would count on most. This will also help you choose a treatment plan that is most in line with your beliefs.

Modify your diet

Research shows that patients with ALS benefit significantly from a diet that is rich in micronutrients and antioxidants. Your diet should contain plenty of lean protein sources, fish, vegetables, and high-fiber grains, while minimizing or eliminating red meat, processed foods, and dairy.

Choose a reliable caregiver 

As the disease progresses, you will need to rely increasingly more on your caregiver, to assist with your daily functions. Make sure you choose someone who is trustworthy, dutiful, patient, and someone you have a good personal equation with. Additionally, make sure to have other relatives or caregivers on hand to help, in case your primary caregiver needs a break or is ill themselves.

Choose the right assistive aids

Based on the degree of disease progression and the level of functionality you have, talk to your doctor about the best assistive aids. These could include crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs as well as lifestyle devices to help you feed and dress yourself. There are also several technologies that can help you record your voice before your vocal chords degenerate, to help you communicate better.

Prioritize your mental health

It is easy to get caught up with negative feelings and regrets following an ALS diagnosis. However, good mental health will help you appreciate your life more and also potentially boost your physical health. Speak to a counsellor or loved one about your feelings, and do as many of the things you love as you can, be it cooking or crafting or traveling. Spend time with your loved ones and don’t be afraid to take their help or advice on anything.

There are several difficult decisions you will need to make when preparing for the future. However, planning in advance helps you and your loved ones come to terms with how things might turn out. Take the help of a support group if you need to, and seek legal and medical counsel wherever possible. This will help you move forward more confidently, and benefit from the best ALS treatment.

https://www.als.org/navigating-als/resources/fyi-planning-future

Spinocerebellar Ataxia And Genetics: What’s The Link?

Spinocerebellar Ataxia And Genetics

Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA) is one among a group of rare diseases known collectively, as hereditary ataxias. It is a progressive condition that has no cure, and lifelong treatment is necessary to control the symptoms and promote functionality. Given the severity of SCA and its symptoms, early diagnosis and intervention is crucial, which calls for genetic testing. Here we take a closer look at the role of genetic mutations in Spinocerebellar Ataxia and how that can help with a diagnosis.

Understanding Spinocerebellar Ataxi

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. While there is no cure for the condition, intensive neuro-rehabilitation along with physical and occupational therapy can reduce disease progression and maximize the functionality of the patient.

Symptoms of Spinocerebellar Ataxia

Each of the various subtypes of Spinocerebellar Ataxia has its own unique symptoms, but they also have several in common. Spinocerebellar Ataxia can manifest from adolescence to late adulthood, depending on the subtype. In general, the early warning signs of the condition include:

  • Trouble with balance and coordination
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Speech abnormalities
  • Learning and memory problems
  • Spasticity

Spinocerebellar Ataxia and genetic mutation

Spinocerebellar Ataxia occurs because of genetic mutations of various kinds. When it is inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion, it is sometimes caused due to trinucleotide repeat expansions. A trinucleotide repeat is simply a repeated segment of DNA. When such repetitions occur more frequently than normal, it can lead to genetic disorders. The higher the number of repetitions, the more severe the condition, and the earlier the onset. This phenomenon is known as Anticipation. In autosomal dominant inheritance, each new-born has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutated copy of the gene. Other types of SCA happen due to autosomal recessive inheritance, and these cases typically manifest symptoms at an earlier age. Anticipation does not happen in autosomal recessive inheritance.

It is also important to note here that the genetic cause of Spinocerebellar Ataxia remains unknown in 25-40% of the cases. This is what makes finding an effective cure so challenging.

Diagnosing Spinocerebellar Ataxia

It is possible for families to test for many of the genes that cause Spinocerebellar Ataxia, particularly the risk of passing it on to a child. There are, in fact, genetic registries where healthcare professionals can request these tests. Patients who are displaying symptoms will typically undergo genetic testing first so as to pinpoint the exact subtype of Spinocerebellar Ataxia that they have. In cases where the gene cannot be identified, the doctor will recommend a CT scan or MRI to identify brain abnormalities typically observed in SCA patients. Other tests include a general physical scan, neurological testing and a detailed family history, particularly when the genetic test is known to present false negatives or false positives. Treatment for SCA involves a mix of medication, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy to control symptoms. 

In conclusion, while navigating through Spinocerebellar Ataxia might be difficult, parents can offset the risk of passing it onto their children through proper genetic testing in advance, as part of family planning. Moreover, tailored treatment plans go a long way in keeping the condition under check and ensuring a functional and fulfilling life, as much as possible.

https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/10748/spinocerebellar-ataxia

How A Sensory Gym Can Help Your Child With Autism

For a child with Autism, navigating unfamiliar environments can be a challenge, particularly because of all the sensory input they may react negatively to. Regular guidance on handling sensory processing issues is necessary to help them adapt and self-soothe. In this context, Sensory Gyms are a safe and enjoyable way for them to get the sensory input they need. Here’s a quick guide on how to set one up at home.

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 navigating social settings and communicating with other people. Tailored treatment for Autism can go a long way in teaching necessary social and behavioral skills.

Sensory issues faced by children with Autism

Many children with Autism find it difficult to process the sensory information they receive. This is what is known as a sensory processing issue. These are broadly of two types:

  • Hypersensitivity – children are overstimulated by various sensations and thus, actively avoid them
  • Hyposensitivity – children are understimulated by various sensations and thus, actively seek them out

In both cases, sensory issues can lead to behavioral problems such as temper tantrums, kicking, fighting, fleeing situations where they feel overwhelmed, and so on.

How a Sensory Gym can help your child with Autism Spectrum Disorders

A Sensory Gym is a room fully dedicated to sensory play of various kinds. It contains various kinds of toys and equipment to provide children with the sensory input they need, and helps them understand their sensory triggers better. Through structured play sessions in a Sensory Gym, your child can get the sensory input they need to calm down, which will help them participate better in other activities throughout the day. Play activities directed by adults in a sensory room can improve gross and fine motor skills, as well as audio-visual processing. Over time, a Sensory Gym helps your child learn self-regulatory activities and thus, boosts their concentration and productivity.

While there are professional Sensory Gyms you can take your child to, it may be expensive as a regular affair. You can, however, easily set up a Sensory Gym of your own at home. Here’s what to keep in mind before you start:

  • Have a clear understanding of what your child’s sensory processing abilities are like, as everyone is different. Talk to the therapist and find out what your child has been responding well to, as opposed to their triggers.
  • Choose a range of items to provide different sensory inputs. Weighted toys, scooters, swings, trampolines, spin discs, balance beams, steppers, ropes, putty, sandboxes, and ball pools are all good ideas.
  • Optimize the size of the gym according to the requirements of your child. A good option is to start with just a few pieces of equipment and then expand based on what they like. This avoids overwhelming your child with choices.
  • Involve your child’s therapist in setting up the gym, so that your child gets the same sensory processing assistance at home as they do at the therapy center. Consult your therapist about appropriate games to play and how to schedule them so that your child can learn at their desired pace.
  • Organize games for your child where you either direct the activities or play an active part in them. Doing so in a Sensory Gym is a good way to accustom your child to interactions with grown-ups. This way, they are in a safe and comfortable place. As your child adjusts, you can even consider having other children or adults over to play.
  • Keep the focus on having fun during every session in the Sensory Gym. Choose equipment that provides the sensations your child most enjoys, and pay attention to new likes and preferences that your child expresses. This will ensure that your child keeps coming back willingly.

A Sensory Gym, in short, can be an extremely helpful way to guide your child through sensory processing issues. You can thus consider setting aside a room at home for sensory input sessions, based on guidance from your child’s therapist. It’s a great way for your child to have fun safely. It also makes it much easier to look after them for the remainder of the day.

Communicating With A Loved One With Parkinson’s Disease

Caring for a loved one who has Parkinson’s Disease can be especially hard. Not only does the condition affect their ability to perform daily tasks, but it can also make it harder for them to communicate effectively. Patience can go a long way in helping them open up, while external aids can also be helpful in many ways. Here’s a quick guide on communicating effectively with someone close to you, who has Parkinson’s.

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative conditions in the world. It primarily damages the dopamineTo help them out, have-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. As Parkinson’s Disease progresses, it affects movement and gait, and can lead to psychological symptoms such as paranoia or hallucinations. Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease include Stem Cell Therapy, Regenerative Rehabilitation Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech Therapy.

How Parkinson’s Disease affects communication

In addition to symptoms related to movement, patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease often experience difficulty with speaking. Many, for instance, may develop a soft hoarse voice that makes it difficult to hear what they are saying. Others may exhibit a stutter or a slur in their speech. As the disease progresses, or even as a consequence of medication, patients may experience hallucinations that can cause them to lose their train of thought. This may even be an obstacle in comprehending speech. Moreover, patients are often unable to make facial expressions, which can be perceived as disinterest in what is being said. This poses a further challenge in keeping the conversation going.

The other major challenge to communication is mental health. As many as 90% of Parkinson’s Disease patients experience Depression, both as a symptom of the condition, and a result of the frustration of being chronically ill. This can make them withdraw emotionally, even with loved ones. Many patients also feel conscious about being sick and thus refuse to talk about their symptoms. This can be dangerous, especially if there is a decline in the patient’s health that the family should be aware of.

How to communicate effectively with a Parkinson’s Disease patient

As someone emotionally close to the patient, it is important to keep the following points in mind when talking to them.

  • Focus on the conversation: Parkinson’s Disease patients may find it hard to talk to more than one person at a time or to talk while they are doing something else. To help them out, have a one-on-one conversation where both parties are sitting or standing, while maintaining eye contact.
  • Observe the ideal time for conversing with the patient: Depending on what their medication schedule is, there may be various ‘on’ and ‘off’ times for them with regard to activities like conversations. Engage with them during their ‘on’ times as much as possible.
  • Keep it simple: Make the comprehension process easy for the patient by using names rather than pronouns when talking about other people and keeping any questions simple.
  • Offer them tools: If a spoken conversation is difficult for the patient, offer them a touchscreen tablet that they can use to type out what they want to say. You can also equip them with a small wearable microphone if their voice has softened.
  • Avoid talking only about disease-related topics: Try not to fixate on the patient’s health or treatment. Instead, talk about things that they enjoy, such as books, music, or movies.
  • Be patient: Parkinson’s Disease patients may often struggle to find the right words, or to say something without stuttering. Let them take their time and avoid showing impatience or trying to finish their sentences for them.
  • Take breaks when needed: If you are a caregiver to a Parkinson’s Disease patient, it is important to take breaks to recharge your own mental health. By taking breaks you avoid the risk of burnout or revealing your frustration to the patient.
  • Consult a speech therapist: Speech therapists can work with the patient to improve their control over their mouth and tongue muscles to help them talk more easily. If your loved one’s speaking abilities show an unexpected decline, it may be time to enlist a therapist to help them out with appropriate exercises.

While it can be difficult to cope with a loved one’s impeded abilities and personality changes, it is essential to show empathy and patience above all else. Be attentive and listen actively if they express feelings of sadness or frustration. By simply showing that you care, you can maintain a strong bond and get them to open up to you in their own way.

The Application Of Splints In Hand Rehabilitation

A broken bone or sprain can be an unpleasant experience. Regardless of where it occurs, the patient needs prompt medical attention to set it in place. Often, chronic conditions like Arthritis, also call for splints to support the joint and guard against pain during regular movement. Here’s a quick guide explaining the role of splints used in Hand Rehabilitation Therapy.

What is a splint?

A splint is a medical device that holds the affected limb firmly in place and prevents it from moving. It helps correct deformities by stabilizing the finger/hand for uninterrupted healing. There are three main types of splints used in Hand Rehabilitation Therapy that doctors recommend.

  • Plaster cast: These are made from materials like fiberglass or plaster to provide firm support to the affected hand. They are among the most commonly used splints in Hand Rehabilitation Therapy.
  • Velcro cast: These are made from a fabric material that fits around the hand, wrist, or finger, and is held together with Velcro straps. They are easy to use and feel more comfortable than plaster casts.
  • Thermoplastic splints: These are typically used for fractures, strains, sprains, or Rheumatoid disorders to immobilize the hand. They are custom-made from light plastic materials to fit the patient and can be removed easily before baths. They are also useful for stabilizing the hand injury prior to any surgery. Thermoplastic splints tend to be more comfortable than plaster casts.

All splints should be completely dry before putting on and should be kept away from direct flames or excess pressure.

Applications of splints used in Hand Rehabilitation Therapy

Splints are used in various situations where the bone is either broken, or when the joints are painful or swollen. They ensure that the hand stays in an appropriate position for optimal healing. There are two main types of hand splints:

  • Resting splints: These help in reducing inflammation and pain when the injured hand is rested. A physiotherapist or an orthodontist will typically custom-make the splint to adhere to each patient’s need. They can wear them overnight or when they experience a flare-up, as may be the case with conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis. Resting splints also help fractured bones or torn ligaments, to heal better.
  • Working splints: These help in keeping the joint safe and assist with pain endurance, when the patient is engaged in their daily activities. They also help avoid the development of restrictive scar tissue that can inhibit the normal range of motion. Splints used in Occupational Therapy improve grip strength and keep the joint in a suitable position for the activity in question. They are useful to wear when the patient feels pain, or during certain activities that may hurt more than others.

It is important to wear the splint exactly as advised by the doctor and bring to notice any redness, inflammation, or pain at the site of the splint.

When splints may be recommended

There are a variety of injuries or disorders that can affect the structure and functionality of the hand. Some of these may have underlying causes, while some may occur suddenly and be hard to prevent. Doctors will typically recommend splints in the following cases:

  • Fractures, strains, and sprains: These can occur from a fall, heavy impact against an object or surface, or while playing a sport
  • Tendonitis: People who engage in repetitive motions on a daily basis are at risk of inflammatory conditions like Tendonitis or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Osteoarthritis: This occurs due to a wearing down of the protective cartilage at the ends of the bone. Splints help manage the pain and make daily activities easier
  • Dislocations: These refer to a bone or joint being bent out of shape owing to an injury, or congenital deformities. Splints can help correct these

To sum it up, splints help in securing the hand and keeping it safe as the patient navigates broken bones, sprains, or medical conditions like Arthritis or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It is essential to have a trained physician apply the splint and to follow all necessary instructions to keep the splint safe, in order to ensure a quick recovery.

Hand Rehabilitation Exercises

Hands are crucial to most of the activities that comprise a normal lifestyle. Hand injuries can thus be particularly difficult to navigate, as many of those activities now suddenly become difficult or impossible. With the help of the right therapist, however, Hand Rehabilitation can be a relatively easy process that can expedite recovery. Here’s a quick guide on various tools and techniques that can help a patient through hand injuries.

What are Hand Rehabilitation exercises?

Hand Rehabilitation exercises are designed to improve mobility, strength, and overall functionality in the hand. Typically, there are two kinds of hand exercises prescribed by physiotherapists:

  • Strengthening exercises, that employ resistance from an elastic band or a gel/foam ball to improve muscle strength
  • Mobility exercises, that increase the hand’s range of motion

Patients who have undergone hand injuries with lengthy recovery times may need Hand Rehabilitation exercises to make a complete recovery. These exercises are also useful for chronic illnesses like Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis, where joint pain and stiffness become progressively worse over time. If done correctly, the exercises can enable both gross and fine motor skills that are essential for daily activities like picking things up, feeding oneself, opening doors, and carrying bags.

Simple Hand Rehabilitation exercises to try

Certain types of Hand Rehabilitation Therapy may focus on restoring strength and mobility, while others may focus on enhancing functionality. Based on the nature and extent of the injury or inflammation, the therapist may recommend one or more of the following exercises to improve mobility and strength.

  • Making a fist: Starting with the fingers stretched out, make a fist and then release it
  • Wrist extension: Keep the wrist elevated by resting it on a soft edge, and then move the hand fully up and down with the palm facing either upward or downward
  • Finger lift: Place the hand on a flat surface and individually lift each finger, with roughly 8-12 repetitions
  • Finger stretch: With the hand resting on a flat surface, gradually straighten the fingers and hold the position for up to a minute; release and repeat
  • Claw grip: With the palm facing upward, move the fingers into a claw stance and hold it for 30-60 seconds
  • Thumb extension: Move the thumb to the middle of the palm and back, and repeat around 8-12 times
  • Thumb touch: Hold the hand straight ahead, bring the thumb up to touch each of the other four fingers in the shape of an O, hold the shape for up to 60 seconds, then release and repeat
  • Pinching: Pinch a foam ball between the thumb and index finger, hold for a few seconds and release; repeat around 10-15 times
  • Grip strengthening: Squeeze a foam ball with as much strength as possible for roughly 10-15 rounds
  • Opposition: Place the ball in the palm of the hand and bring the thumb towards the little finger and squeeze; repeat this 10-15 times
  • Finger squeeze: Balance the ball between any two fingers and then bring them together and squeeze and hold; repeat 10-15 times
  • Thumb pinch strengthening: Pinch the thumb hard against the side of the index finger and hold for a few seconds
  • Pinch and release: Place a pen or pencil on a flat surface and gently grip it with the fingers; hold, release, and repeat

The best tools for Hand Rehabilitation

There are several inexpensive tools that can help build strength in a patient’s affected hand which are also easy to use. Some of the tools your therapist might recommend include:

  • Hand Therapy balls, across a range of softness to pose enough of a challenge for people with different degrees of injury
  • Therapy putty
  • Finger strengtheners for rebuilding hand muscle
  • PVC pipe trees to practise fine and gross motor skills
  • Mirror Therapy, a particularly useful tool for those with hand paralysis

When investing in a tool, it is important to pick something that you will be motivated to use every day, as consistency is key in Hand Rehabilitation.
In conclusion, recovering from a hand injury or combating chronic hand pain requires regular Physical Therapy to gain back functionality. While many of these exercises may seem too challenging at first, continue practicing, and slowly increase the number of repetitions or the amount of resistance. Over time, you will feel your strength and mobility return, and you will be able to enjoy doing things on your own again.

Commonly Witnessed Hand-Related Injuries and Trauma

Hands are crucial to so many activities in our daily lives, yet we do not always perceive hand injuries to be a serious matter. While some forms of injury and trauma may indeed heal quickly, others are more serious and may even point to an underlying condition. In certain cases, hand injuries may require a course of hand rehabilitation to fully restore normal abilities and heal the pain. Here’s a quick guide going over what that looks like.

What is a hand injury?

A hand injury refers to any form of injury or trauma that affects the hands, wrists, or fingers. Injuries of this nature can range from simple cuts and burns on the surface, to more serious trauma that affects the nerves in the hand. Hand injuries require prompt attention and swift treatment so that the patient is able to make a complete recovery.

Types of hand injuries and trauma

There are several types of hand injuries one might experience, from mild cuts that can be treated at home, to severe fractures or infections that require professional help. Some of the commonly witnessed types include:

  • Abrasions: These refer to a scraping away of the skin from contact with a rough surface. There is usually some skin loss and little to no blood loss.
  • Lacerations: These are deep cuts to the hand, usually from a sharp object, and involve loss of blood. They need to be cleaned and dressed properly, and may require stitches based on severity.
  • Burns: These occur due to heat, electrical, or chemical sources. First-degree burns are less serious and typically only cause localised pain. Second and third-degree burns are more serious, with some causing extensive nerve damage.
  • Bone dislocations and fractures: These involve trauma to the bones or joints. Dislocations occur when two connected bones become separated, while fractures are partial or complete breaks in a bone.
  • Soft tissue injury: These include sprains, strains, bruises, tendonitis, and stress injuries, and affect tendons or ligaments.
  • Infections: Infections can occur from untreated wounds or from exposure to toxins. At the early stages of an infection, antibiotics are usually enough to treat it. Left untreated, however, an infected hand may call for tissue removal and the draining of accumulated pus.
  • High-pressure injection injuries: These arise from the use of tools like paint or tattoo guns and typically affect the dominant hand. The injury may appear like a small sore and can require serious attention depending on the pressure of the injection and the temperature.
  • Amputations: In certain serious injuries or as the result of disease, the patient may end up losing the hand altogether.

Causes of hand injury

Hand injuries typically occur from daily activities or recreational sports, and can affect people of all ages. Athletes are particularly at risk of injury of all kinds, more so in high-contact sports like football or boxing. In older people, the natural wear and tear of the body as well as the increased risk of falling from poor balance increases the risk of hand injuries. The most common causes of hand injury or trauma include:

  • Accidents while performing daily activities, such as cuts and burns while cooking
  • Impact or injury from sporting activities
  • Accidents while riding a bike or in a car crash
  • Wear and tear from ageing or from poor muscle use during weightlifting
  • The use of heavy machinery or equipment

Treating hand injuries and trauma

Regardless of the source of the injury or trauma, the patient will need a tailored hand rehabilitation program to recover. Trained therapists at a rehabilitation clinic will assess the hand to determine the best way to minimize pain, strengthen the muscles, and restore functionality for daily activities like eating or dressing. If the hand is lost altogether in the injury or if it has been amputated to prevent infection from spreading, the therapist will guide the patient through using assistive devices. Some of the activities that the therapist might recommend for a patient include:

  • Exercises to improve range of motion, strength, and dexterity
  • Scar tissue management
  • Therapeutic modalities for joint/muscle stiffness
  • Compression therapy and edema management
  • Custom orthotics to support the hand after the injury or to correct a deformity
  • Training for the use of prosthetics or assistive devices
  • Energy conservation training

Hand injuries and trauma are often regarded as less serious than other types of injury, but they require due care all the same. With proper hand rehabilitation, the patient can safely recover their facilities. In addition, taking suitable preventive care during sporting activities or any other lifestyle activities will help to reduce the risk of hand injury and ensure healthy functionality.

Emotional Regulation for Children: An Introductory Guide

Children often exhibit emotional outbursts when they are very young. However, if tantrums and meltdowns are persistent, even at a school-going age, your child may need some guidance on appropriate emotional expression. As the regular educational curriculum does not include lessons on this, children often have difficulties knowing how and when to express what they feel, which can lead to behavioral issues. In this context, emotional regulation, as taught during Occupational Therapy, provides children with the tools and resources to manage their feelings healthily. Here’s a quick guide covering how emotional regulation can help your child.

What is emotional regulation?

According to the American Psychological Association, emotional regulation refers to a person’s ability to monitor and moderate their emotions. It can occur before the feeling actively develops, while the feeling is in process, or after the feeling has subsided. Broadly, there are two types of emotional regulation:

  • Implicit: This is an unconscious practice, and involves tempering the extent with which one feels an emotional response.
  • Explicit: This involves consciously monitoring one’s emotions and working to express them more appropriately. It can include altering an emotion for a more positive response, reframing one’s perspective to view a situation more positively, or recognising and practicing the behaviors that can improve one’s emotional state.

With emotional regulation, children learn to navigate tough situations such as dealing with disappointment, calming down during an upsetting time, and controlling their temper when something makes them angry.

Why is emotional regulation important?

Life is unpredictable for the most part, and every child will face many unexpected hurdles and disappointments as they grow older. At a young age, the instinctive response to such hurdles may be to cry or to start screaming. This, however, is neither appropriate nor useful, particularly as the child grows older and participates more in social settings. Moreover, many parents take on the job of soothing their children every time they have an outburst rather than helping them find ways to self-soothe. This leads to negative consequences, as children grow up relying on their parents to regulate their emotions and cannot do it on their own.
Emotional regulation, when taught with care and patience, helps children face difficult situations calmly and respond in a mature fashion that is solution-oriented and not impulsive. When they encounter any stimulus that upsets them, they learn to slow down and choose an emotional response with care. Particularly when interacting with others, emotional regulation helps children respond in a manner that is considerate to the other person, which makes for better relationships with friends, colleagues, teachers, and family members over time. It also promotes mental health, as children learn to deal calmly with tough situations rather than giving in to unrestrained emotion.

Emotional regulation strategies that every child should learn

When teaching emotional regulation as part of Occupational Therapy, it is important to treat it as a skill to be taught, rather than a correction of bad behavior. This will help children view it positively and learn it eagerly than out of compulsion. Some of the tools that help with inculcating emotional regulation include:

  • Self-awareness: This involves slowing down and providing calm feedback on what the child did wrong and how they can do it differently. The better a child understands what constitutes a ‘good’ emotional response, the likelier they are to do it themselves.
  • Scaffolding: This involves providing a supportive framework to encourage a behavior that the child may not want to exhibit. For instance, if children throw tantrums about doing their homework, parents can help them out with one part and then step back to let the child figure it out. Whenever they feel frustrated, they can be allowed to take a break, and parents should praise the effort being made.
  • Practice runs: This is particularly helpful if children tend to act out in specific situations. For instance, if children are prone to throwing tantrums at the supermarket, parents can take their children on a visit without actually buying anything, to teach them how to walk quietly, how to not take things from shelves, how to not throw tantrums about buying treats, and so on.

Navigating emotions is complex for people of all ages, but with the right guidance, care, and the best Occupational Therapy in Bangalore, children can imbibe the tools early on. For parents and teachers, it is important to remember that consistency and teaching through small, manageable exercises will make a big difference over time. The more encouragement a child receives, the more motivated they will be to practice smart self-regulating behaviors all their life.

The‌ ‌Types‌ ‌and‌ ‌Symptoms‌ ‌of‌ ‌Spinocerebellar‌ ‌Ataxia‌

Spinocerebellar Ataxia is a progressive, degenerative condition that is classified as a rare disease. As a genetic condition, it can be passed on by members of the family who carry the disease-causing genes without displaying any of the symptoms themselves. At present, doctors have identified about 20 different subtypes of Spinocerebellar Ataxia, each of which has its own unique symptoms but most of which have a lot in common. Let’s take a closer look at how this condition manifests.

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. The best Spinocerebellar Ataxia treatment includes Stem Cell Therapy as well as extensive Neuro-rehabilitation, including Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech and Language Therapy.

Symptoms of Spinocerebellar Ataxia

Spinocerebellar Ataxia is divided into several subtypes, distinguished by numbers. The numbers do not indicate an increase in severity, but the order in which they were linked to a specific chromosome. For all the subtypes of Spinocerebellar Ataxia, patients will experience a progressive difficulty with walking and other voluntary movements. This is known as ataxia, which simply refers to uncoordinated movement of all kinds. Patients will also experience difficulties with speech and swallowing. In addition, several subtypes have their own unique characteristics, which we can discuss as follows.

  • SCA2 causes slow eye movements and may often involve dementia
  • SCA4 causes sensory loss
  • SCA5 manifests earlier than most subtypes, in the patient’s twenties and thirties. Disease progression, however, is slow
  • SCA7 leads to vision loss
  • SCA10, a rare subtype, can occasionally cause seizures
  • SCA13, another rare subtype, manifests in childhood and leads to shorter stature and some mental retardation
  • For several types of Spinocerebellar Ataxia, the disease can continue progressing for decades and the patient may have a normal lifespan. However, subtypes like SCA1, SCA2, and SCA3 have an average prognosis of 10-15 years

Diagnosing Spinocerebellar Ataxia

There is no specific diagnostic procedure for Spinocerebellar Ataxia, and in most cases a doctor will rule out other conditions with similar symptoms first. Blood tests, medical history, and genetic history also help to diagnose exactly which type of Spinocerebellar Ataxia the patient has. An MRI or a CT scan can indicate shrinkage of the cerebellum, which will help to track disease progression. However, it is important to remember in this regard that genetic testing can only identify about 60% of hereditary ataxias. There are several types for which the patient may display normal genetic results. As more cases of different subtypes are diagnosed, genetic tests will become more refined.

Treatment options for Spinocerebellar Ataxia

At present, there is no cure for any of the ataxias. Physical therapy is the best Spinocerebellar Ataxia treatment for controlling muscle spasms, enhancing mobility and improving balance. Assistive devices like crutches or walkers can also help patients get around better. People affected by the most common subtypes – SCA1, SCA2, SCA3, and SCA6 – will require a wheelchair about 10 to 15 years after the diagnosis, as well as eventual assistance with daily tasks. In addition, Stem Cell Therapy and Occupational Therapy can help manage the day-to-day symptoms and give the patient greater independence.
While Spinocerebellar Ataxia currently has no cure, extensive research is underway to learn more about this rare disease, how it manifests, and how it can be kept in check or even reversed. By getting an early diagnosis and embarking on the best Spinocerebellar Ataxia treatment, the patient can enhance their range of motion and enjoy a higher quality of life with their friends and family.

What Life Skills Does My Child With Autism Need To Know?

Essential life skills for childrem with autism

For a child with Autism, managing small daily tasks that everyone else takes for granted can pose a big challenge. And while you can help them when they’re young, they will need to learn how to take care of themselves so that they can function adequately when you are not around. While teaching your child self -sufficiency can seem daunting, it can help to break it down into a list of key skills to build up over the years. Here’s a quick guide to the most important life skills for your 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 tend to have trouble communicating with others and following social rules, for which occupational therapy and other treatment for Autism in Hyderabad is crucial. 

Important life skills for your child with Autism to learn

To give your child the best shot at a healthy individual life, it’s important to start young with skills training. Your healthcare team can give you guidance on the right teaching methods and exercises. In addition, come up with your own ideas depending on your child’s needs and likes. Here are the six key groups of life skills to focus on when raising your child with Autism.

  • Personal care: These skills include personal hygiene, nutrition, and exercise, as well as the ability to handle emotionally challenging situations as well as physical illnesses. Children should be encouraged to learn these as early on as possible. Creating easy-to-follow routines and breaking down each segment of personal care into multiple steps will help children with Autism grasp them better and replicate them as needed. 
  • Daily living skills: These include skills related to managing a household and carrying out more complex activities, such as laundering clothes, cooking meals, cleaning the house, reading maps and so on. The best way to incorporate these skills is by involving your children with Autism in household tasks as early as possible. The sooner they start learning their way around tasks like cooking and shopping, the likelier they are to get used to doing them independently. 
  • Executive skills: These include tasks and decisions related to planning and organising, such as determining one’s schedule or creating (and sticking to) a to-do list. This category may be challenging for your child and will require ongoing effort. Step-by-step routines and interactive activities can help.
  • Social skills: This is a critical skill set that should be taught from an early age, as children with Autism tend to struggle the most with this. They include participating in group activities, making friends, sharing things, holding conversations, taking turns, and so on. Enlist the teacher’s help to create a school environment where your child can learn these skills effectively. This also includes knowing how and whom to ask for help as needed.
  • Job skills: These include the skills that will enable your child to build a career of their choice, and include the job-search process as well as the skills to do well at the job. Once your child is a little older and has mastered some social skills, consider taking them along to your place of work to show them what you do and let them try things hands-on. You can also ask around to see whether any companies or organizations in your neighborhood offer volunteer opportunities. Other ways to learn job-related skills include volunteering at parks, signing up for youth clubs, enrolling as a boy/girl scout and so on. It is important to choose something based on what your child’s interests are to sustain their attention.
  • Self-advocacy: This is somewhat akin to self-care, but at a higher level. It involves teaching children how to state their opinions, how to ask questions, and when and how to say no. For children who have made progress on their social and executive skills, guidance in self-advocacy can help them navigate complex situations and resolve conflict gracefully without compromising on their own needs and beliefs.

It is important to remember that your child will not learn these skills overnight. They will take their own time and their education needs may evolve as they grow. The key here is to provide a safe, loving atmosphere that motivates your child to learn through encouragement rather than fear of punishment. With the right care at home supplemented by the best treatment for Autism in Hyderabad, your child will be well on their way to becoming an independent, productive adult.

The Relation Between Parkinson’s and Ataxia: All You Need To Know

The Link between Parkinson’s Disease and Ataxia

Parkinson’s Disease and Spinocerebellar Ataxia are both progressive conditions that affect muscle movement in patients. In both cases, patients can experience a set of symptoms that include slurred speech, trouble walking, body tremors, and so on. The conditions are highly different, however, and require their own unique diagnosis and treatment approaches. Let’s take a closer look.

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease and Spinocerebellar Ataxia

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. Tremors are among the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, as well as uncoordinated gait, difficulty with fine motor skills, and slurred speech.

On the other hand, 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. Stem cell therapy and physiotherapy are important components of both Parkinson’s Disease and Spinocerebellar Ataxia treatment.

Similarities between Parkinson’s Disease and Spinocerebellar Ataxia

One reason why many people confuse the two conditions is because of the word ‘ataxia’. In isolation, ataxia simply refers to any kind of uncoordinated movement. It is caused by damage to the cerebellum and is a symptom of several illnesses, and can also appear after certain viral infections or physical trauma. Patients with Parkinson’s Disease often experience ataxia, which manifests as:

  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination
  • Difficulty walking and a tendency to fall
  • Difficulty with actions that involve fine motor skills
  • Trouble with swallowing
  • Rapid, uncontrolled eye movements

Ataxia, in fact, is one of the earliest symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. There are also certain Parkinson’s Disease medications that could exacerbate the tremors. 

However, ataxia can also refer to Spinocerebellar Ataxia, which is a group of genetic, neurodegenerative conditions that affect the way the brain coordinates movements. In this case, the cause of the ataxia is not acquired but hereditary, based on faulty genes that cause the damage to the cerebellum. 

One easy way to tell whether ataxia is the outcome of Parkinson’s Disease or Spinocerebellar Ataxia is by looking at the patient’s age. Parkinson’s Disease affects patients above the age of 60. Different subtypes of Spinocerebellar Ataxia, however, can affect patients in the age range of 20-80. Another difference between the two lies in the cause. In most cases, the cause of Parkinson’s Disease is unknown. Spinocerebellar Ataxia, however, is always hereditary. 

Treating the two conditions

Currently, neither Parkinson’s Disease nor Spinocerebellar Ataxia have any cure. Treatment, however, can slow disease progression and manage the symptoms. Physiotherapy, stem cell therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy are all highly beneficial for improving the patient’s independence and mobility. There are also various exercises that specifically target tremors and help to reduce their frequency. For both Parkinson’s Disease and Spinocerebellar Ataxia treatment, assistive aids like crutches and wheelchairs will become necessary as the condition progresses and the patient loses mobility.

In conclusion, Parkinson’s Disease and ataxia are certainly related, but it depends on which meaning of ‘ataxia’ you are referring to. Ataxia in the sense of uncoordinated movement is a primary symptom of Parkinson’s Disease, while Ataxia as shorthand for Spinocerebellar Ataxia refers to a set of genetic conditions with which Parkinson’s Disease has some symptoms in common.

Managing Tremors in Multiple Sclerosis

Controlling Tremors in Multiple Sclerosis 

A tremor refers to an involuntary movement of the limbs or body. It is a common symptom in many neurological and autoimmune conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis. About 25% to 60% of Multiple Sclerosis patients will experience this symptom, which can be embarrassing as well as debilitating to manage. The right treatment, however, can make things much easier. Here’s a quick guide on how to manage Multiple Sclerosis tremors on a daily basis. 

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 tissue — in this case, the myelin or the protective covering around nerve fibers. This leaves scarred tissue 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. Multiple Sclerosis has no cure, but treatment plans can slow disease progression, control symptoms, and enhance quality of life.

Tremors in Multiple Sclerosis

People with Multiple Sclerosis typically experience what is known as an intention tremor. This type of tremor shows up only when the person is moving, not when they are at rest. As the person tries to reach for something or take a step in a certain direction, the tremor kicks in, impeding the movement. Another type is a postural tremor, in which the person experiences tremors while standing or sitting, but not when lying down. Some Multiple Sclerosis patients also experience jumpy eye movements, known as Nystagmus. Tremors occur due to damage in the nerve pathways from myelin erosion, leading to loss of control over balance and coordination. The tremor can show up as an early warning sign of Multiple Sclerosis and persist as the disease progresses.

Tremors can make it harder to perform daily activities like getting dressed or feeding oneself, and may even be dangerous if the patient is handling objects like sharp knives. Tremors also take its toll mentally as the patient struggles to keep them a secret, particularly in public. Since the nerve pathways that govern movement also coordinate functions like speaking and swallowing, Multiple Sclerosis patients with tremors may also exhibit difficulties with these functions.

Managing tremors in Multiple Sclerosis

A typical Multiple Sclerosis treatment plan will include a combination of Stem Cell Therapy, Physiotherapy, Behavioral therapy, Speech therapy, and Occupational therapy to slow disease progression and control the symptoms. Physical therapy can make the body more stable over time and improve control over voluntary movements, while Speech therapy can help control actions like speaking and swallowing to overcome facial tremors. There are no specific treatments available to cure tremors, although certain lifestyle changes can help. These include:

  • Adding small weights to utensils to help with eating safely
  • Using a drinking straw to avoid spillage
  • Wearing clothes with velcro fastenings rather than hooks or buttons
  • Using a speech-to-text converter to type
  • Stretches and exercises to improve mobility and control in the limbs
  • Assistive devices for dressing, writing, cooking, and other daily activities
  • Braces to hold the joint still and to make it easier to walk and move around (when placed on the ankle, foot, or arm)

Your doctor will make recommendations for some or all of these depending on what your symptoms are and the extent of disease progression. In addition, psychological counseling can help with the emotional impact of tremors, enabling you to feel more comfortable, and confident in social settings.

Tremors can be alarming when they occur and impede your normal lifestyle, but the right Multiple Sclerosis treatment will help you manage them and make necessary adjustments. Above all, be patient with yourself and seek the help you need, when you need it. This way, you can continue living as independently as possible and learn to not let the tremors define you or your outlook on life.

Mental Health for Parkinson’s Disease Patients: A Guide

Managing Mental Health with Parkinson’s Disease

Depression can affect any of us for any reason, and is a tough challenge to navigate. Those with Parkinson’s Disease have an even harder time battling Depression, and other mental health conditions because of all the other symptoms that coexist with it. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease itself, there are several ways to manage mental health conditions to the point where they no longer affect your daily life. Here’s a quick guide to maintaining your mental health when you’re also battling Parkinson’s Disease.

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

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. The symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease are both physical and neurological, these include tremors, unsteady gait, slurred or softened speech, impaired memory, mood swings, and delusions. 

Mental health conditions and Parkinson’s Disease

One of the common symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease is Depression, caused due to chemical imbalance in the brain. Depression, in fact, could make many symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease worse, if left untreated. You may have Depression if you experience the following for more than two weeks at a stretch:

  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • A lack of pleasure in things you once enjoyed
  • Altered energy levels, including feeling tired more often
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Poor appetite or binge eating
  • Low mood and self-esteem

A condition that often manifests along with Depression is Anxiety, which involves prolonged periods of general unease and fear. Anxiety, like Depression, can affect the patient’s ability to maintain a normal social life.

Another mental health challenge that patients often face, takes the form of paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations. All three are common side effects of Parkinson’s Disease medication, and involve a belief in something that isn’t actually true. With paranoia, the patient may feel like they are being watched or followed all the time. A delusion indicates a firm belief that something is true when it is not. For instance, the patient may suddenly believe that their nurse is out to kill them. Hallucinations involve seeing or hearing things that aren’t actually there.

Diagnosing mental health conditions

Your doctor will ascertain that the mental health problems are linked to your Parkinson’s Disease, and not some other condition. They will typically run tests to check your lungs, liver, and kidney function as well as your blood work – as chemical imbalances in these organs could also cause mental health conditions. They will then look into all of the medication you take, including over-the-counter pills and alternative remedies, as these may also be the culprit. 

Mental health treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

The best way to treat Depression in Parkinson’s Disease is through a combination of therapy and medication. Talk therapy helps the patient work through issues of feeling low and thinking less of oneself, while finding a new sense of self-worth. It also allows them to enjoy daily activities, special interests, and family time much more. Medication in the form of antidepressants is also valuable. The doctor will prescribe medication depending on the patient’s current health so that they do not interfere with other Parkinson’s Disease medication. Medication is also essential to keep delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations in check, along with a regular sleep cycle and more physical activity.

Prescribing mental health medication for Parkinson’s Disease can be tricky.  Some of the Parkinson’s Disease medication could itself be causing mental health problems. On the flipside, certain mental health medication could interfere with Parkinson’s symptoms. Generally, the doctor will prescribe a combination of medication, to keep both in check with minimal side effects. Keep talking to your doctor at regular intervals about any changes you feel – good or bad, in your mental and physical health.

In many cases, lifestyle changes can help a great deal with conditions like Depression or Anxiety. Some changes you can consider include:

  • Regular exercise under the supervision of a physiotherapist
  • Cutting down or avoiding caffeine
  • Avoiding alcohol and tobacco
  • Trying aromatherapy, meditation, or other forms of relaxation
  • Getting enough sleep every night
  • Maintaining a nutritious diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables

In conclusion, there are several ways to treat mental health disorders in Parkinson’s Disease patients, including lifestyle changes and counselling to enable a more positive outlook. If you are experiencing Depression or any other mental health condition, bring it to the notice of your doctor right away so that you can benefit from the right treatment.

Exercises to Help Manage Ataxia – Occupational Therapy for Spinocerebellar Ataxia

Managing Ataxia with the Right Exercises

Spinocerebellar Ataxia is a rare disease that affects voluntary muscle movement. There is currently no cure, but treatment can slow the progression and give patients a productive, fulfilling life. In particular, exercise has several benefits in enhancing muscle control and thus combating Ataxia over time. Let’s take a look at how exercise can help, as well as some of the exercises that your physiotherapist might recommend.

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 movement. 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.

Exercise for Spinocerebellar Ataxia

The main symptom of Spinocerebellar Ataxia is a lack of control over muscle movement. It occurs due to damage in the part of the brain that controls voluntary movement, and hinders daily activities like picking up things, feeding oneself, or walking around. While some of these activities can be completed with adaptive or assistive devices, exercise is the best way to bring about long-term recovery of muscle function. 

Physical exercise is a crucial component of any Spinocerebellar Ataxia treatment program. Exercise can help to improve gait, enhance muscle function, and reduce the risk of falls. Some exercises may focus on restoring muscle abilities in the patient’s limbs, while others focus on compensating for the deficiency in the limb in conjunction with assistive devices. Regardless, the end goal of exercise is to equip the patient with as much mobility as possible. Here are some of the exercises that your physiotherapist may recommend.

  • Sit to stand: This exercise builds lower body strength and improves mobility. To perform this, sit on a chair with your knees hip-width apart and feet under your knees. Gradually shift your upper body weight forward, transferring it to your legs, and use your leg muscles to stand up. Sit down again slowly and repeat this at least 10 times.
  • Quadruped opposite arm and leg extension: This exercise builds core stability and helps with reaching for objects. Start by kneeling while putting your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Raise one arm slowly till shoulder height, then raise the opposite leg to hip height, and balance for a second. Gradually pull your arm and leg back and repeat on the other side for at least 10 rounds.
  • Sitting lateral weight shifts: This exercise builds core stability while you remain in a seated position. Sit upright on an exercise ball with your knees hip-width apart and your feet under your knees. Slowly move your upper body from side to side, allowing your trunk to shift and bear the weight. Repeat 10 times. To make it easier, sit on a steady surface and place your hands on either side.
  • Standing anterior-posterior weight shift: This exercise serves as a precursor to walking by improving balance. Stand with your feet hip-width or wider apart. Gradually, shift your body weight back and forth between your toes and your heels. Perform 10 repetitions, holding on to something for support if necessary.
  • Single leg stance: This exercise improves balance and makes walking easier. Stand upright and slowly shift your weight onto one leg while lifting the other leg off the ground. Slowly lower the leg and do the same on the other side. Perform 10 repetitions. Try to balance on each leg for as long as possible.

For maximum benefit, home exercises should be performed at least three times a week, in sessions that are at least 20 to 30 minutes long. Whenever performing an exercise for the first time, keep it to two or three sets of eight to ten repetitions, in a controlled manner. Once you become more confident, you can increase it to 12 to 15 repetitions. When using weights, always start with light ones and be sure to maintain the correct form. In addition, aerobic exercises such as running, biking, or swimming improve overall cardiovascular health and help to maintain a healthy weight.

In conclusion, exercise has a myriad of benefits as part of Spinocerebellar Ataxia treatment, in terms of improving coordination, balance, strength, and mobility. Be sure to perform all exercises with care and to stop at once if you feel any pain or discomfort. Over time, you will see functional improvements that allow you to lead your life more independently.

The Best Age to start Speech Therapy for your Child

The Right Age to Begin Speech Therapy for your Child

Every parent likes to track their growing child’s progress. Even small delays in speaking and communicating can cause them worry. There are times when your child may simply pick up pace a little later. However, if there are significant delays, your child may benefit from sessions with a speech therapist. The sooner you start them on a speech and language therapy program, the more they will benefit. Let’s take a closer look at how speech therapy can help your child.

Understanding speech and language delays

Speech refers to the verbal expression and articulation of language. However, language refers to understanding and being understood through communication, be it verbal or non-verbal. So a child with a speech delay may not be able to articulate words at all, or may articulate in a way that is hard to understand. On the other hand, a child with a language delay may know how to articulate words, but may not do so adequately or correctly when communicating. A child may have a speech delay, or a speech and language delay combined. Some reasons for speech / language delays include oral impairments, poor control over mouth and face muscles, hearing problems, illnesses that affect the part of the brain controlling speech, and so on.

Understanding speech therapy

Speech therapy refers to the assessment and treatment of communication disorders related to speech and language. It may take place in a classroom setting or through one-on-one sessions, depending on your child’s needs. Some of the exercises that a speech therapist might use include using picture books to develop language, spoken interaction through play, and modeling correct sounds and syllables to improve articulation.

Signs that your child may need speech therapy

A delay in speech or language doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong. Your child may simply be a late developer and catch up to their peers without needing any intervention. At the same time, certain signs merit a closer look and may indicate a need for speech therapy for children. Here are some milestones to look out for. 

  • 6 months – Babies should ideally start babbling between four and seven months of age. It’s worth taking note if your child is unusually silent, or doesn’t make eye contact with you.
  • 12 months – Most children should be able to nod and shake their heads, gesture towards things, and wave their hands. These are all signs that your child has grasped the basics of communication and knows how to attract your attention. If your child doesn’t do these, or doesn’t react when you address them or gesture at them, you may want to consult someone. 
  • 12-24 months – At this age, children should be able to understand simple verbal requests, like ‘sit down’. An inability to understand what you want of them could indicate a language delay. 
  • 24 months – By this age, most children will string together two or three words to indicate what they want, such as “drink milk” or “play ball”. If your child is not vocalizing, or is not speaking independently unless spoken to, or has a raspy or nasal tone of voice, visit a specialist.
  • Above 36 months – Children aged three and above will usually speak a lot of words, most of which are intelligible. If you are finding it hard to understand most of what they are saying, speech therapy for children may be necessary. 
  • 48 months and above – Between the ages of two and four, it becomes most obvious if your child needs assistance. Even if they can speak, they may not be able to understand simple instructions like “go over there” if they have a language delay. Low levels of interaction, frequently using the wrong words, or not answering questions correctly are also signs to watch out for.

While missed milestones at earlier ages are not necessarily a cause for alarm, it is important to take action and sign your child up for speech therapy if the problems continue at 24 months of age and beyond. Enrolling your child in speech and language therapy will help them acquire fluency in language, articulate sounds better, and communicate effectively, while also boosting their confidence.

Speech Therapy for your Child With Cerebral Palsy

Improving Speech and Communication for your Child with Cerebral Palsy

Children with Cerebral Palsy often experience speech problems as a result of poor control over the muscles in their face, neck, and throat. This can impede their ability to learn and interact and also cause problems with swallowing. An important component of the treatment for Cerebral Palsy thus involves strengthening the face and neck muscles through physiotherapy and speech therapy. Read on to know more about speech therapy and how it can benefit your child with Cerebral Palsy.

Understanding 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. Children with Cerebral Palsy often experience stiffness, contractures, or lack of control in their muscles, which affects their ability to move, speak, and swallow. The best treatment for Cerebral Palsy involves a combination of stem cell therapy, physiotherapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy to help the child function as independently as possible.

Benefits of speech therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Children with Cerebral Palsy struggle to control their face and neck muscles. This can lead to a variety of speech related problems such as slurred speech, drooling, difficulty in controlling breathing, and difficulty in swallowing. Apart from hindering the ability to communicate, these problems can be potentially dangerous if the child is unable to swallow food properly, as the food may get stuck in their throat or go down the windpipe.
This is where speech therapy comes in. Speech therapists teach your child special exercises to improve control over the muscles involved in speaking and swallowing. This allows them to eat safely and obtain the nutrition and hydration they need to stay healthy.

Speech therapy also focuses on correcting the child’s communication problems, including:

  • Sound and word formation
  • Stuttering
  • Poor articulation
  • Speech volume
  • Breath control
  • Word comprehension and association
  • Vocabulary development

The better a child is able to communicate, the stronger their cognitive abilities become. As children learn to express themselves effectively, they adjust better to social environments, and also develop emotionally as they gain confidence in themselves. Over time, speech therapy can help a child with Cerebral Palsy overcome shyness, ask for what they want, improve their problem-solving ability, enhance their ability to socialize, and boost their self-esteem. 

Exercises commonly used in speech therapy for Cerebral Palsy

As part of the treatment process, your child’s therapist will conduct an assessment to determine what abilities your child currently has and how exactly they could benefit from speech therapy. The assessment could involve an oral exam, tests of articulation and fluency, audiology tests, cognitive tests, and so on. Subsequently, the therapist will select exercises tailored to your child’s specific difficulties with speaking and swallowing. 
Some of the Speech Therapy exercises the therapist might recommend for your child include:

  • Breathing exercises to strengthen the diaphragm, and control the inhalation and exhalation process
  • Jaw exercises to help with foods that require extra chewing, such as carrots or apples
  • Blowing exercises such as whistling or bubble blowing, to strengthen the abdominal muscles and to learn how to produce certain sounds
  • Swallowing exercises to enable safe eating practices, such as effortful swallowing (where the child swallows a mouthful of liquid or saliva at one gulp) or the masako maneuver (where the child sticks the tongue out and puts gentle pressure on it with the teeth)
  • Tongue exercises such as pressing the tongue against a spoon or depressor for several seconds at a go, to strengthen the tongue muscles
  • Lip strengthening exercises, such as putting or squeezing one’s lips around a lollipop
  • Articulation therapy to teach children how to make certain sounds, including practising before a mirror and using language cards as a guide
  • Language and word association for children who are more advanced in their speaking skills, with the help of flash cards to show children how certain words go together, like ‘sock’ and ‘shoe’, or ‘chips’ and ‘dip’

In addition, if the child is non-verbal or has extreme difficulty speaking, the therapist can teach them how to use tablets, augmentative devices, flash cards, or sign language to communicate their wants and needs.
When choosing the right speech therapist for your child, it is essential to pick someone experienced in Cerebral Palsy and its associated challenges. They will typically work with the child’s occupational therapist and physiotherapist to come up with a comprehensive all-in-one treatment plan. The sooner your child starts attending speech therapy, the sooner they will gain the skills they need to express themselves, and as a result, become confident.

Dealing with Challenging Behaviour in Autism: A Quick Guide

Tips on Dealing with Challenging Behaviour in Children with Autism 

Children with Autism tend to have trouble expressing their wants or needs. When it gets too much for them, they may act out in frustration and display what is known as challenging behavior. Dealing with such behavior may be tiring, embarrassing, and overwhelming for parents and caregivers, especially in public. Here, we take a closer look at what might constitute challenging behavior and how to react, when your child with Autism displays this.

Understanding Autism
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. 

Why challenging behavior might occur
‘Challenging behavior’ refers to a situation where children with Autism perform acts that could cause them to hurt themselves or others around them. Examples of challenging behavior include:

  • Ignoring requests or refusing to obey instructions
  • Yelling or speaking aggressively
  • Hurting other people around them by hitting them 
  • Hurting themselves by banging their head
  • Engaging in inappropriate behavior like taking their clothes off in public

Most children with Autism will at some point demonstrate challenging behavior. There are several reasons why a child might do it, including:

  • Trouble understanding what other people are saying to them
  • A break in the child’s routine, such as stopping after school to buy groceries instead of going straight home
  • Difficulty in transitioning from one activity to the next
  • High levels of anxiety or stress
  • Sensory overload, when taken to a new place or when there is a lot of noise or bright light around
  • Sensory sensitivities, where the child is not allowed to touch or feel something that they enjoy touching and feeling
  • Frustration at being asked to do something they do not have the skills for, such as independently feeding themselves
  • Feelings of discomfort, such as prickliness from wool clothes or a price tag rubbing against them
  • A lack of sleep, which could indicate an underlying sleep disorder

How to tackle and minimize challenging behavior in your child with Autism
It is important to sign up where relevant, and take your child for required treatment, at an early age. The more your child is able to participate in occupational and behavioral therapy, the better they will be at gaining control over their emotion and grasping how to communicate in a socially acceptable manner. 

If your child is demonstrating challenging behavior, the first step is to track exactly when and where this behavior happened, and what incited it. This will give you information on what your child’s triggers are and help you work around them. Here are some tips to follow.

  • Maintain a detailed record of your child’s routine and keep track of all the instances where your child acted out or behaved aggressively.
  • Help your child prepare for changes in routine by giving them a warning in advance. Use pictures to illustrate what the child will do that day. For example, if your child is going to be leaving school and stopping to pick up juice before heading home, rather than going straight home.
  • Make sure your child is paying attention when you explain the change to them. Communicate clearly and use words, pictures, and symbols that your child will understand.
  • Encourage your child to ask for help when they are facing difficulties, such as saying the word ‘help’ or holding up a ‘help’ sign.
  • If the change in routine is permanent, help your child with Autism ease into it gradually. For example, if you now plan to visit the supermarket every Tuesday after school, introduce your child to it with short trips during less busy times and allow your child to buy something they like.
  • If you know that you may be going to places or doing things that make your child uncomfortable, plan in advance by carrying a favourite toy, or by ensuring that your child gets plenty of sleep beforehand.
  • If your child with Autism starts protesting, stay calm and feign indifference until they calm down too.
  • At the same time, praise your child for behaving well, particularly in a difficult or new situation.
  • Consult a doctor if you suspect that your child’s challenging behavior could be a medical cause, such as epilepsy or ADHD.

Dealing with challenging behavior can be exhausting for you as well as your child with Autism. By understanding the root cause, you can respond to your child’s underlying needs and help them behave better. 
The best treatment for Autism in Hyderabad, will go a long way in teaching your child good behavior and healthy communication practices.

How to Say “No” to your Child with Autism

Communication Directed Towards Children with Autism  

Children with Autism have difficulty communicating their needs and understanding what is being communicated to them. Often, this could lead to situations where they cannot have what they want, which could cause them to have a meltdown or behave inappropriately. In such cases, calmly and gently guiding the child towards better behavior, has a more impactful long-term effect than simply saying ‘no’ or scolding them. Here’s a quick guide on when to say ‘no’ to your child with Autism, and alternatives you can use instead. 

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 expressing themselves, adjusting to their social environment, and coping with changes in their routine. While Autism currently has no cure, the best Autism treatment in Hyderabad could go a long way in helping your child adjust to and function in daily life more effectively. 

Saying ‘no’ to your child with Autism
It is understandable for a parent or caregiver to feel nervous about saying ‘no’. A child with Autism often cannot handle rejection well, and may break down, yell, hit, or demonstrate other inappropriate behavior. ‘No’ is also regarded as a word indicating some form of punishment, and may end up exacerbating the child’s meltdown. Having said that, it is essential to teach your child boundaries and good behavior, and saying ‘no’ is a part of that. The best Autism treatment in Hyderabad could also help your child understand boundaries better, through occupational and behavioral therapy.

An important thing to remember here, is to limit usage of the word ‘no’ unless absolutely necessary. Children with Autism learn from repetition and will equate one situation with other similar situations. The word ‘no’ represents an absolute command and your child with Autism should associate it with situations where they have to listen. For instance, you can use it when your child is trying to touch a hot stove or run out in the midst of traffic. By using it for both, serious and trivial situations, you could risk confusing your child. The child may associate the word ‘no’ with getting into serious trouble, and end up having a meltdown.

In order for your child to model good behavior by learning and for remembering the next time around, here are some alternate ways of saying ‘no’ to them.

  • Use statements that clearly explain what your child is expected to do. For instance, instead of saying ‘No, don’t eat your brother’s dessert’, you could say ‘This is your plate with your dessert. You can eat this’.
  • Provide reasons instead of just saying ‘no’. If your child with Autism wants to go to the pool, explain why they cannot, by showing them their existing schedule and pointing out what they are scheduled to do, instead of the pool.
  • Explain to the child what they need to do before they get what they want. Instead of saying ‘no’ when your child wants chips, you can say ‘First do your homework, then have a bath, and after that you can have chips’.
  • Demonstrate the behavior you’d want to see in your child. For instance, if they are lowering their head towards the plate to eat, instead of raising their hand to their mouth, demonstrate with a spoon or fork how you want them to eat instead.
  • Use pictures or other visual rules to explain to your child why you must say ‘no’. For instance, you can use cartoons or symbols to demonstrate to your child how they might get hurt from touching a hot flame or a sharp knife.
  • Praise their attempts to enact new behavior or behaviour you want to see in them. This will encourage them to do more of it.
  • Teach every member of your family to reserve the word ‘no’ only for extreme or dangerous situations. This way, your child with Autism will learn to follow this instruction at once, no matter who is saying it.

Your child with Autism may not respond well at first when you say ‘no’, but by communicating in a manner that calmly explains what you expect of them, they will learn to adjust and listen with time. Above all, remember to exercise patience and care at all times, and always reward them for good behavior with love and affection.

The Best Play Activities for your Child with Autism

The Best Play Activities for your Child with Autism

All children love to play, and children with Autism are no exception. Play is an excellent way of teaching coordination, movement, problem-solving, and creativity, while allowing your child to have fun along the way. With the right play activities, coupled with the best Autism treatment in Bangalore, your child can learn important social and communication skills. These skills in turn, help them adjust better at school and other interactive environments. Here’s a quick guide to simple and fun play activities for your 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 may be uncomfortable in social situations and have trouble interacting with their peers at school or on the playground. Getting your child the right Autism treatment in Bangalore early on, will help them pick up necessary social skills and live a more fulfilling life.

The best play activities for your child with Autism
Just like neurotypical children, your child with Autism learns new skills and abilities through play. Different types of play activities help your child explore their environment, make connections, copy things, learn how to share, use their imagination, and so on. Playtime is also a valuable opportunity for the caregiver to model good behavior and build a stronger bond with the child.

When selecting play activities for your child, it is important to keep watching them to see what they are interested in, and what they tire of. There are three main types of play that can help your child learn while having fun. Here’s a quick guide to incorporating each of these types into your child’s day.

Sensory play
This type of play touches upon the child’s senses and helps soothe them or excite them, in a healthy way. Most children with Autism are prone to sensory overload, and sensory play can keep them calm during stressful situations. Some examples include:

  • Making a sensory collage as a way of introducing your child to different textures.
  • Teaching them to identify different smells by hiding different objects (coffee beans, soap, rose petals) in a covered jar, and having your child sniff at them.
  • Creating a sensory bottle by adding water, glitter, and colored marbles to a bottle.
  • Having a sensory bin filled with different textures like rice, pebbles, buttons, beads, sand, feathers, pasta shapes, and so on.

Structured play
This type of play involves the adult providing some sort of structure or direction to get playtime going. It is important for teaching children skills like sharing or taking turns, as it involves clear guidelines as opposed to free play. It also makes playtime less stressful for your child with Autism, by introducing predictability. Some examples include:

  • Piecing a jigsaw puzzle together
  • Taking turns with another child to build something with building blocks
  • Matching pictures with each other or matching pictures to toys
  • Coloring an outline with crayons, based on a picture guide

The key here is to be involved in playtime at first, and then to gradually withdraw as the child learns to do the activity on their own. 

Outdoor play
Outdoor play can take place in your garden, park, jungle gym, or schoolyard. This type of play enhances your child’s gross motor skills and helps them adjust to new textures, smells, and sounds. Examples of outdoor play include:

  • Barefoot races involving running or jumping
  • Swinging on the swings
  • Playing on a seesaw with another child
  • Scavenger hunts where the child has to find objects in a certain color or shape
  • Teaching them about textures by having them identify and pick up grass, leaves, pebbles, flowers, and so on.

Here are some other tips to remember for effective play:

  • Explain play activities in a language that your child with Autism understands. If your child is a visual learner for instance, use pictures to explain the different steps of a game.
  • Plan play activities that fall within the child’s interest. For instance, if your child likes Winnie the Pooh, use toys, visual cues, and other activities with a Winnie the Pooh theme.
  • Use play to help your child adjust to new environments. So if your child likes to play with modeling clay, encourage them to play with modeling clay at a classmate’s house.
  • Always praise your child for responding well to play activities or trying out something new.

Play is an invaluable component of teaching your child with Autism important life skills while letting them explore and have fun. By incorporating play into their daily schedule and gently guiding them towards new things, your child will be happier and more effective, at home and elsewhere. 

Heavy Work Activities for your Child with Autism

Physical Activities Suitable for Children with Autism

Children with Autism often experience sensory processing issues that make it difficult for them to cope with the presence or absence of certain sensory inputs. This can interfere with their schedule and make it harder for them to perform at school or home as expected. In this regard, heavy work activity forms an important component of the best Autism treatment in Bangalore to address sensory issues. Read on to know more about heavy work activities and why they must be a part of your child’s routine. 

Understanding Autism
Autism or Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. The condition has no cure, and typically manifests when the child is between one and three years of age. Children with Autism often have trouble regulating their senses and controlling their emotions when confronted with uncomfortable situations. The best Autism treatment in Bangalore can help them gain the tools they need to self-regulate and participate effectively in social situations. 

Benefits of heavy work activities for your child with Autism
Heavy work activities include anything that involves pushing or pulling against the body. It could involve activities like swimming or running, where resistance is against the flow of water or air, or movements like swinging and hanging, on playground equipment like monkey bars. The aim of heavy work activities is to activate and engage as many muscle groups as possible.

Heavy work activities are an important part of dealing with sensory processing issues. In particular, children who seek what is known as proprioceptive input, may need those activities to calm them. In the absence of structured heavy work activities, the child may seek that input in dangerous ways, such as jumping off ledges or crashing into things.

Your child’s occupational therapist will incorporate various safe, heavy work activities to assist your child with senses that they may be seeking or avoiding. Regularly engaging in these activities helps increase your child’s body awareness, or proprioception, by helping them assess exactly how much physical effort they need to complete tasks like shutting a door or writing with a pencil. This input helps the child know their spatial orientation, i.e. where their body is in space and what it should be doing, which is known as heavy work.

The best heavy work activities to do at home
There are several simple ways in which you can incorporate heavy work activity into your child’s home routine. Essentially, they have to involve movement and resistance so as to engage the child’s muscles. Most of them are daily chores and ordinary play activities, although you can choose to enrol your child in structured sports too. These activities are ideal if your child is overstimulated in a new environment or is upset for some reason.

Your occupational therapist will help you identify which senses your child needs help self-regulating, and corresponding activities to provide the best sensory input. Examples include:

  • Taking out the trash
  • Pushing the shopping cart at the supermarket
  • Playing with modelling clay
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Riding a tricycle or bicycle
  • Rearranging books on shelves
  • Mopping the floor
  • Swinging on monkey bars
  • Playing catch with a ball
  • Jumping on a trampoline
  • Marching or running in place
  • Shoveling snow or raking leaves
  • Calisthenics routines like jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, and so on (particularly for older children)
  • Stretching resistance bands

Be sure to monitor your child through all these activities so that they stay safe and do not hurt themselves. Try and decide on a set of activities that your child ca