The 6th of October is World Cerebral Palsy day.
Cerebral palsy refers to a group of conditions that affect coordination and movement. It is caused by a problem that develops in the brain, before, during, or after birth. Symptoms are usually not noticeable until a child becomes a toddler. The exact cause of cerebral palsy is unknown in a lot of cases.
Before birth, cerebral palsy can be due to damage to the white matter of the brain due to a lack of oxygenation or a reduction in the blood supply. This is called periventricular leukomalacia. An infection caught by the mother passed onto the child such as chickenpox. If a stroke occurs, cutting off blood supply to the brain, or if the unborn baby suffers an injury to the brain.
During birth or shortly after, the brain could temporarily be deprived of oxygen during a difficult birth. A newborn could be susceptible to a stroke, meningitis, or head injury.
A baby is at increased risk of cerebral palsy if they are born prematurely, has a low birth rate, or if the mother smoked, drank alcohol, or did drugs during the duration of her pregnancy.
A diagnosis is made when a parent becomes concerned regarding their child's symptoms. The typical symptoms include muscle spasms, miscoordination of movement, and walking on tiptoes. The specialist will then refer the child for brain scans to confirm a diagnosis. There is no cure for cerebral palsy but physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, and occupational therapy can help a child with cerebral palsy live a long and fulfilling life.
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