How To Identify a Child with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a group of non-progressive but permanent motor diseases that may affect the person’s movement, balance and posture. In many cases, this condition appears during the first few years of life, about 3 years of age.

In cerebral palsy, the area of the brain that is responsible for movement and balance gets damaged or does not develop properly. The manifestations do not worsen over time but would surely cause limited activity for the patient. Motor-related manifestations may often be associated with sensory disturbances, perception, cognition, behavior and communication disturbances. Seizures may also be present at times.

Cerebral palsy can be categorized in three types. The first one is the spastic type that is characterized by spastic diplegia or stiffness and difficulty of movement of both legs. Paralysis of the arm similar with the erb’s palsy or with the brachial plexus palsy is evident. The second type is the athenoid or dyskinetic form that is manifested by muscle tone fluctuations like mild to moderate jerky movements and difficulties of the tongue that lead to difficulty in sucking and swallowing. The last type is the ataxic cerebral palsy, which is characterized by unsteady gait and feet coordination.

There is no specific cure for this disorder to date. Medical professionals only offer limited treatment and information to prevent the complications that may arise with cerebral palsy. Treatment programs for this disorder include medicines, physical and speech therapy, and braces to support the patient’s body. The rule of the thumb is to help the patient have a chance to live a better life by detecting the sickness at an early age.

Here are the common steps to identify a child with cerebral palsy.

  1. Be keen to observe for changes in the mobility of child’s legs and arms. This pictures the progression and identification of the cerebral palsy type. Look for peculiar, stiff and odd movements that done by the child.
  2. Watch out for the child’s eating habits. Watch out for difficulty in swallowing, sucking, tongue protrusion, and drooling.
  3. Be keen with the child’s motor development. If a child seems to learn a motor activity at a slow rate, seek medical advice, as this can be one of the symptoms of the presence of cerebral palsy.
  4. A child of 2 months and above that cannot control his head properly or has stiff legs when carried may be a sign of cerebral palsy.
  5. A child of 6 months and above that uses only one hand while keeping the other in a fist when reaching something can also be a sign of cerebral palsy.
  6. A child of 10 months and above that pushes one hand and one leg while dragging the left extremities when crawling is another sign of cerebral palsy.
  7. A child who is more than 12 months old but still not capable of crawling and stands only with support can be suffering from early signs of cerebral palsy. Watch out for sensory, learning, hearing and vision difficulties.

Proper identification and early diagnosis of cerebral palsy using the guidelines above can be of great help to conserve what is left for the patient. Though, there is no cure for this disorder, the treatment program can surely help the child cope up, function and live more effectively.


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