Cerebral Palsy is a condition of the nervous system affecting movement, learning, hearing, seeing and cognitive development. The disease is caused by genetic abnormalities in the brain but can also be caused by severe cranial injuries. Cerebral Palsy often forms in the womb as a birth defect and symptoms usually manifest within the first two years of life. Symptoms can be pronounced or mild and can affect patients differently. There is no cure for Cerebral Palsy but symptoms can be contained with therapy and medication.
Cerebral Palsy can form during fetal development due to lack of oxygen to the forming brain and neural systems. Premature infants have a slightly higher risk of developing the condition. Cerebral Palsy can also form in young infants as a result of any of the following conditions: bleeding in the brain, meningitis, herpes, head injuries, infections in the mother during pregnancy or severe jaundice.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy tend to vary from one patient to the next. Of the most common type of Cerebral Palsy, patients endure tight muscles that do not stretch, abnormal gait, tight joints and muscle weakness. Symptoms may be present on one side of the body or both. Some patients experience tremors, twisting or jerking movements, loss of coordination or floppy muscles.
Cognitively, Cerebral Palsy affects one’s speech, hearing and vision. Intelligence levels vary and some patients show no marked decrease in cognition. Speech problems are common and many patients experience the sudden onset of seizures.
If Cerebral Palsy is suspected, imaging of the brain will be performed by a neurologist as well as blood tests and sensory tests.
No cure is available for Cerebral Palsy but patients can control and monitor their development through the use of therapy and medication. It is a lifelong disorder requiring care into adulthood. Many adults are able to live independently with Cerebral Palsy although some require in-home care or must live in a group setting.
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