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A Deep Dive Into the Complexities of Cerebral Palsy: What You Need to Know About Your Child’s Development 

A young child with cerebral palsy playing with his pediatric therapist

How your child moves early on in their development can give you a lot of important information. Today, a lot more parents know about cerebral palsy than did two decades ago. The condition is discussed more often and even seen in popular television shows and films. And yet, recorded cases of neuromuscular conditions are nothing new and have been around for a long time. 

As a parent in the 21st-century, people want to know all they can about these conditions, what to look for in their young children and the types of treatments available. 

Cerebral palsy is complicated and is actually a group of disorders that affect posture, muscle tone, mobility, and more. Children suffer from these symptoms differently, so it doesn’t mean that your child won’t be able to have some degree of independence and live a happy and productive life. 

Early Signs of Cerebral Palsy in Children 

A child born with cerebral palsy is a result of brain damage that happens early on in development. Most of the signs and symptoms will emerge early on in a child’s life and become apparent as the child is supposed to be reaching certain developmental milestones. 

Parents may begin to notice specific physical and cognitive signs that can indicate a possibility of cerebral palsy. 

Some of the most frequently spotted issues include:

  • A baby that struggles to lift their own head by the appropriate age
  • Baby’s that exhibit low muscle tone and appears to be floppy or without strength
  • Difficulty in coordinating movements
  • A child that fails to meet known milestones like rolling over, crawling, or walking
  • Poor balance
  • Difficulty with speech 

This condition is highly individual and affects people differently. Doctors might perform any number of different physical and neurological tests as a child is born. 

Testing Done on Children with Possible Cerebral Palsy 

Because not all children are diagnosed right away, there are several ways a healthcare professional or physician can seek to diagnose a child with possible cerebral palsy. 

The most common assessments performed include:

Physical Exam: In some circumstances, a child can be diagnosed based on several physical signs. 

CT Scans: A CT scan will combine two and three-dimensional images that can easily detect areas of the brain that have unusual activity, particularly in areas that are associated with balance and movement. 

Apgar Test: This is a test performed on newborns and it monitors the child’s heart rate, muscle tone, neurological responses. A lower score on this test might indicate there’s been oxygen deprivation. 

The Discovery of Cerebral Palsy in the Medical Community 

One of the first names mentioned in relation to the study and emergence of cerebral palsy is Dr. William John Little, a pioneer in the study of the condition. Dr. John Little had his own experience with physical disabilities and used what he knew of his own afflictions to study cerebral palsy. Dr. John Little suffered from a club foot and polio. He dedicated his life to studying these conditions and helping others with similar symptoms. It was initially called “Little’s Disease,” and soon enough he had established the neurological underpinnings of the condition. 

Another big name was that of Sigmund Freud who studied cerebral palsy and believed that this was a condition that developed early in fetal development. 

The biggest organization today that studies and advances the research on cerebral palsy is the United Cerebral Palsy Association, which was started by two couples. Both of these couples were active in advancing research because they had children that suffered from Cerebral Palsy. 

Learning the Risks of Cerebral Palsy 

Despite modern medicine’s advancements, there is still no absolute prevention for the condition. Most experts agree that cerebral palsy develops before the baby’s birth or during birth. It is more common, they say, during difficult childbirth if oxygen flow is reduced to the baby. 

The risk can be higher in baby’s that are:

  • Born after a difficult and complicated labor
  • Babies with low birth weight
  • Those born before 32 weeks of pregnancy 
  • Fever or infections during pregnancy 

Although less common, a baby can also develop the condition as a result of an injury during their early childhood. 

What Treatment Options are Available for Children with Cerebral Palsy?

Because the condition is so different in every child, the treatments are really tailored to each child and their specific needs. The three major treatment options will include medication, therapy, and surgery. The overall goal of each of the treatments is to encourage independence, maximize movement, and relieve pain. 

Here at Pasitos Clinic, we have experience with children that have cerebral palsy. We know that treatment options are a journey that must be discussed between the parent and child and parent and provider. 

Behavioral therapists and physical therapists can play a major role in a child’s plan and treatment. By encouraging certain movements and exercises, the physicians might succeed in breaking through (to some degree) 

A physical therapist can help a child with cerebral palsy by working on:

  • Balance 
  • Flexibility 
  • Posture
  • Strength 

Find a Trusted Pediatric Clinic for Your Child’s Health

Here at Pasitos Clinic, we focus on various therapeutic treatments to help children with various conditions. Our trained healthcare professionals have years of experience working with children that suffer from conditions like cerebral palsy. 

If you’re wondering what to do about your child’s health and development, contact Pasitos today. 

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