CEREBRAL PALSY (CP)
A child with cerebral palsy is also sometimes called a
spastic child because, in quite a few children with cerebral palsy, the muscles have increased tone. But this is a misnomer
because some children with cerebral palsy can also be hypotonic or limp.
SYMPTOMS: Though the cause is not known in most cases, a child whose brain has maldevelopment or has
been damaged during pregnancy, at the time of delivery or
soon after birth, runs the potential risk of cerebral palsy. Children who had severe jaundice within 30 hours after birth or
those born prematurely can also get this disease.
Unusual stiffness of the body or limpness should alert
us to the possibility of CP.
If you notice that your child is slow in learning new
skills as compared to his older sibling or children his age, you should consult your doctor to rule out this possibility.
Besides stiffness or limpness, these children can also
have other problems like excessive drooling, speech disturbances, dental, eye and hearing problems, convulsions and
different grades of mental retardation. However, 50% of children
with CP are mentally normal.
MANAGEMENT: Early diagnosis helps in management. However, do not despair if your child’s diagnosis was
delayed; a holistic approach to management will benefit the child
at any age.
If there is a specialised centre nearby for care of
children with CP, your doctor will refer you there for treatment. Otherwise, write to the Spastics Society of India, K. C.
Marg, Bandra Reclamation, Mumbai, with the background of the child. They may suggest the centre nearest to your home.
No specific drug is available for CP. But sometimes a drug to reduce the stiffness may be advised. Occasionally, an expert may administer an injection into specific
muscles. It is important that this injection be given in the early
years of life (preferably in the first 5 years) so that child can
learn to walk near-normally. Some children may benefit from surgery.
No treatment should be undertaken without expert advice.
Hearteningly, many children with CP can become useful citizens. With training, most of them learn to look
after themselves, though a small number may need supervision
for several years.
A child with CP improves much faster if both parents
share the responsibilities of his care. Living in a caring
joint family can prove advantageous. As a child with CP often needs
extra care, there is always a possibility that your spouse or
other children may feel neglected, and this can lead to other problems. Guard against this by involving them in the care of the special child.
11 February, 2013