In-Home Care: Cerebral Palsy

Posted in Articles, In-home Care: Diseases and Conditions on January 31st, 2012 | Comments Off

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy is a disorder of the central nervous system. Cerebral Palsy is characterized as a group of disorders affecting one’s ability to coordinate their muscle movements. This chronic condition occurs because of abnormalities in brain development. This condition affects the parts of the brain that control body movement. Cerebral Palsy can develop before birth or during the early stages of a child’s brain development. Typically, a child will be diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy before the age of 3.

Cerebral Palsy is a chronic disorder meaning the patient will most likely suffer from the condition for their entire life. This condition is non-progressive meaning it will not worsen over time. Cerebral Palsy is non-contagious and is not considered a disease.

The four most common types of Cerebral Palsy are Spastic Cerebral Palsy, Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, and Mixed Cerebral Palsy. Spastic Cerebral Palsy is the most common form of Cerebral Palsy and is characterized by tightness and stiffness in the patient’s muscles. Patients with Spastic Cerebral Palsy often have difficulties relaxing their muscles. Athetoid Cerebral Palsy patients do not typically have  learning disabilities. They have a difficult time controlling their muscles and are often unable to balance. Their motions are involuntary and uncoordinated. Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is characterized by unsteady and shaky muscle movements. Patients will often experience muscle tremors and have difficulties performing precise motor tasks, such as holding a pencil or tying their shoes. Mixed Cerebral Palsy is any combination of Spastic Cerebral Palsy, Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, and Ataxic Cerebral Palsy.

At this moment, a cure for Cerebral Palsy does not exist. There are medications that will provide relief from certain symptoms, but the medications will not eliminate the condition altogether. Although there is no cure for Cerebral Palsy, there are various treatment options that will help a patient maintain their independence and live a productive and enjoyable life.

What are the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy?

  • Hearing, vision, and speech problems
  • Seizures
  • Problems swallowing, eating, digesting, and breathing
  • Dental problems
  • Incontinence, vomiting, and constipation
  • Spasticity: muscle stiffness and abnormal reflexes
  • Irregular muscle tone
  • Tremors
  • Difficulties with body movement and precise motor tasks
  • Difficulties with walking, balancing, and muscle coordination
  • Learning disabilities/ mental retardation
  • Pain

What type of care does a Cerebral Palsy patient need?

Symptoms vary from patient to patient. If the symptoms are mild, a Cerebral Palsy patient may only require help from family members and friends. When the symptoms are more severe, a live-in caregiver will become necessary. Some patients may experience all of the symptoms at once, while others may suffer from a select few. A caregiver’s duties will vary depending on the situation and the patient’s symptoms. Parkinson’s patients may require part-time care, full-time care, or round-the-clock care.

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