Cerebral Palsy Introduction

Cerebral palsy (CP) is defined as persistent not progressive disorder of posture and movement system, associated with functional activity limitations and sensorial, cognitive, communication problems, epilepsy, and musculoskeletal system problems. This disorder results in posture and movement deficiencies. Functional independence levels of these children are affected negatively due to secondary disorders such as various musculoskeletal deformations and tertiary disorders due to different compensation mechanisms that develop over time. Although the damage is not progressive, manifestations of deficiency and disability may be progressive.

Cerebral Palsy is caused by:

  • Infections in pregnancy like German measles (rubella)
  • Severe jaundice
  • Parents taking feto-toxic drugs during pregnancy
  • Severe brain infection in infancy (Meningitis, Encephalitis)
  • Lack of oxygen to vulnerable areas of brain due to:
    • Bleeding
    • Prolonged labor
    • Birth traumas
    • Circulatory disturbances during pregnancy, especially involving placenta
  • Some rare hereditary diseases that resemble CP

The four types of Cerebral Palsy are Spastic, Athetoid, Ataxic and Mixed

Why is it important to aim for normalcy as fast as possible?

  • Spasticity of lower limbs (Achilles tendon) makes the child walk on the toes of extended foot. This causes unequal limb length, imbalance, frequent fall, and further development of irreversible contracture. Timely use of Nerve Blocks followed by long term intense Standard Therapy (which is rarely done anyway), intensive Pediatric Therapy of CP, made-to-order orthoses, etc. may prevent this problem to a significant degree.
  • Progressive muscle stiffness and contractures prevent proper growth of long bones. The child ends up with a stunted growth.
  • Limited movement and unequal weight distribution on the two sides causes unusual wear and tear of limb joints, leading to premature joint degeneration (Osteoarthrosis) and dislocations.