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.